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Romney vs. Obama: Money talks

In fact, in the 2012 presidential race, it positively screams.
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Eric Byler, head of the Coffee Party, speaks during a protest in front of the US Supreme Court in February, in Washington, DC. His group and others rallied to urge court justices to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a decision that prohibits the government from putting limits on political spending by corporations and unions. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Few issues galvanize the American electorate like money: who has it, who doesn’t, and what various people are doing to get it. In the 2012 presidential race, money may become the determining factor in the outcome.

If so, this is not good news for the Democratic incumbent, President Barack Obama. The champion fundraiser of 2008, who was able to refuse taxpayer money for his campaign because he was flooded with donations from the little people, is now locked in a fierce battle with a challenger who has made money the main pillar of his bid for the White House.

Mitt Romney, the all-but-crowned Republican nominee, is a very wealthy man — one of the richest, they say, ever to run for president. He touts his success at every opportunity, saying, in effect, that his ability to make money makes him uniquely qualified to lead the country.

But questions are now being raised about how he got his money, what he has done with it, and how the laws of the land seem to be in favor of Romney and other fat cats.

On Thursday, the Boston Globe broke the story that Romney remained CEO of Bain Capital three years longer than he's claimed. That sparked a firestorm of criticism, and prompted Obama's deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter to call Romney "the most secretive candidate to run for president since Richard Nixon," Politico reports.

The news comes after a trail of trouble-raising issues about Romney's finances. These are highlighted sharply by an investigative report in this month’s Vanity Fair. A lack of transparency in his financial dealings, says author Nicholas Shaxson, has made it difficult to unravel the tangled web of offshore accounts, tax havens, and questionable accounting practices that have allowed Romney to amass, and keep, his wealth.

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Health care decision leaves Americans divided

I have spoken to dozens of people about the health care act across the country. While reactions are split along party lines, neither side had a monopoly on logic.
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Medical students and professionals participate in a news conference in support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act outside the U.S. Supreme Court Building on March 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today the high court, which has set aside six hours over three days, will hear arguments over the constitutionality of the act. (Chip Somodevilla/AFP/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court’s long-awaited ruling on the Affordable Care Act — known to both admirers and critics as “Obamacare” — has been characterized as a compromise, meaning it made almost everyone a little bit happy and a little bit sad.

“Looks like they split the baby on this one,” said one political activist in Denver.

Even CNN and Fox News were confused, announcing originally that the law had been struck down, based on partial information saying that the Court had ruled that the attempt to justify the Act on the grounds of interstate commerce was unfounded. But Chief Justice John Roberts, a staunch conservative, found a way to uphold the law on the basis of the government’s right to levy taxes.

Compromises have been few and far between in this increasingly polarized political landscape, and so perhaps we should all welcome this rare event.

But judging by the level of anger surrounding the ruling, matched by the almost total ignorance of its provisions and effects among the general population, nothing has been solved by Thursday’s decision. Instead, the battle will continue — right up until Nov. 6, when voters can finally have their say.

A recent USA Today/Gallup poll indicated that Americans are evenly divided — 46 percent to 46 percent — on whether or not they favor the Affordable Care Act. The split reflects the deep chasm between Democrats and Republicans: 85 percent of Republicans want the Act repealed in its entirety, while 65 percent of Democrats want the bill maintained or expanded.

This is not a debate over health care, or even about the proper role of government in our society. It is politics, pure and simple. Republican challenger Mitt Romney — himself the author of a similar health care bill in Massachusetts, lost no time in weighing in.

"If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we're going to have to replace President Obama," Romney told a news conference on Thursday.

Over the past several months, I have spoken to dozens of people about the health care act. Reactions are split fairly neatly along party lines, although neither side had a monopoly on logic.

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