BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Despite getting little or no return on his monumental investments in the last election – between $100-150 million to GOP-sponsored super PACs and candidates – Las Vegas and Macao casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has pledged to double his investment to the GOP during the 2016 presidential election.
"I happen to be in a unique business where winning and losing is the basis of the entire business," Adelson, the seventh richest man in America ($24.9 billion as of March of this year) and the biggest campaign donor in political history, told The Wall Street Journal. "So I don't cry when I lose. There's always a new hand coming up."
Adelson, who contributed $20 million to Mitt Romney’s super PAC “Restore Our Future,” $15 million to Newt Gingrich’s super PAC – which for all intents and purposes kept the disgraced former House Speaker in the presidential primary race and handed the nomination to Romney -- and about $50 million to nonprofit Republican fronts such as Rove’s Crossroads GPS.
In a lengthy interview with Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, Adelson “excoriated President Barack Obama, Democrats and unions,” the WSJ’s Alicia Mundy recently reported.
Adelson also claimed that he was “basically a social liberal,” and that his views differed sharply from the Republican Party on a number of issues:
“Number one, I’m supporting stem-cell research.” As exemplified by the new Adelson medical research foundation that is funding some stem-cell based science. “I’m pro choice,” he pointed out. “You can take your own religious beliefs …and live your life with your own beliefs. But to make it a portion of the government’s policies?” Adelson also maintained “Abortion shouldn’t be brought up as a political issue,” he said.
On immigration: “I’m pro-Dream Act, I’m pro the Dream Act. My parents were immigrants to this country,” he said. “What are we going to do? Listen, I’m sure a lot of my parents generation ….. snuck onto the ship and they came into the country.
“So – people will do anything to leave massacres and to leave the economic conditions – they can’t put food on their own table.
“There has been in our history a lot of illegal immigration. Do I approve of it? No, but it’s here.
“It would be inhumane to send those people back , to send 12 million people out of this country to disrupt a whole potpourri of family issues” over what happens to the children.
“I mean it’s all ridiculous. So we’ve got to find a way, find a route for those people to get legal citizenship,” he said.
Adelson also claimed that he was “in favor of a socialized-like health care”: “I think that to take care of everybody is part of Tikkun Olam” the Hebrew motto meaning “repair the world,” he said. “And to deprive somebody for money of heath care or [medical] testing is bordering on criminal.”
Although claiming to favor “socialized-like health care,” Adelson said that he was adamantly opposed to Obamacare: “I’m against this Obamacare because it’s making the [medical] decisions based upon money.” If one goes to Israel, he said, one chooses among four or five HMO’s. “You go in there you get all your health care from cradle to grave.”
“When I learned about that [Israeli] system, to my own surprise I said, ‘Oh, I’m in favor of socialized medicine’– which is such a bad word here,” he said.
Adelson’s comments about social issues in his WSJ interview brought strong criticism from some fellow conservatives. He told Commentary magazine’s Alana Goodman that “If we took a softer stance on those several issues, social issues, that I referred to, then I think that we would have won the most recent election,” he said. “I think people got the impression that Republicans didn’t care about certain groups of people.”
“They talked about Mitt Romney and said that he can’t identify with poor people. I can identify with poor people because I was one of them,” he added.
Adelson, who attended a foreign policy speech Romney gave in Jerusalem last summer, also hosted Romney “in private several times in Las Vegas,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Laura Myers recently reported. He “also met with Romney’s running mate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin … . [and] chatted with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who campaigned in Las Vegas for Romney and is a potential 2016 White House contender.
According to Myers, “At a post-election Republican Governors Association convention in November, state leaders paid their respects to Adelson while meeting at The Venetian, his hotel-casino on the Strip. Governors who visited Adelson included Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, John Kasich of Ohio, and outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia.”
Last week, Adelson was in Washington, D.C., “seeing leaders of GOP campaign committees as well as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.”
"By the time 2015 rolls around, Adelson will probably be on a first-name basis with every Republican candidate serious about pursuing the nomination," said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with The Cook Political Report.
"Adelson has become one of the power brokers for 2016, particularly since he was willing to get involved in the primary," Duffy pointed out. "Anyone with a checkbook of his size would become a power broker. It provides a degree of influence for Adelson and his agenda. Beyond Israel, I am not entirely sure what that agenda is."
According to New York magazine’s Margaret Hartmann, Adelson “was already approached by five potential GOP presidential candidates at last month's Republican Governors Association conference, including Bob McDonnell and Bobby Jindal, but he still hasn't decided whom he'll shower with money in 2016.”
What does Adelson and fellow billionaires who contribute to the GOP expect to get for their money? “[I]f and when they eventually win, … [they] will clean up,” Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, recently pointed out. Their taxes will plummet, many of laws constraining their profits (such environmental laws preventing the Koch brothers from more depredations, and the anti-bribery Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that Adelson is being investigated for violating) will disappear, and what’s left of labor unions will no longer intrude on their bottom lines.”