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RIP: Obama the Campaign-Finance Reformer

The president is overseeing a new era of big money politics, despite pledges to level the playing field with wealthy interests.
US president-elect Barack Obama gives a press conference in Chicago on December 19, 2008 to introduce his pick of California Rep. Hilda Solis as his labor secretary, former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk as trade representative, Karen Mills as head of the Small Business Administration and Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois for transportation secretary.

US president-elect Barack Obama gives a press conference in Chicago on December 19, 2008 to introduce his pick of California Rep. Hilda Solis as his labor secretary, former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk as trade representative, Karen Mills as head of the Small Business Administration and Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois for transportation secretary.

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama in 2008 pledged to blunt the power of big money interests in politics. Instead, he's overseeing the return of a gilded age with billionaires running their own parties out of high-rise offices and candidates spending more of their time mingling with them behind closed doors. 

The president's abandonment of good-government groups on the issue of campaign finance will reach a new peak this week when he signs the so-called cromnibus legislation, a $1.1 trillion spending bill that will keep the government open for a fiscal year. The bill, which Obama urged Democrats to pass, also lifts campaign contribution limits to party organizations allowing fundraisers to hit up donors for just under $1.6 million in each two-year election cycle, up from the current $260,000 limit. That comes after roughly a century during which the trend has gone the other way, with new laws tightening campaign finance rules and checking the power of rich donors.