Shutdown spells big gains for nation’s gross political product


For furloughed workers, kids on Head Start, and patients waiting for experimental cancer treatment among others, the shutdown of the federal government has spelled bad economic news. But for the nation's political war profiteers, it has been a bonanza. 

In the two weeks that many Americans' government services and benefits have been held hostage to their elected representatives' seemingly irreconcilable differences over President Barack Obama's health care plan and federal spending, enterprising campaign operatives have produced and aired nearly two dozen television and Internet ads focusing on the shutdown. Surprise! Both sides in the debate are doing it and each blames the other for the crisis.

It's just another sign of just how much money is tied up in fomenting, rather than resolving, partisan conflicts.

The ads began airing Oct. 3, three days after the shutdown began. A complete list spotted on Political Ad Hawk, the Sunlight Foundation's mobile app for monitoring campaign advertising, is below. Ad buyers run the ideological gamut: Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia, is trying to link his Republican opponent in the Nov. 5 election to the Tea Party lawmakers whose budget cutting zeal has laid off so many workers in the state; meanwhile Gary Bauer, a former GOP presidential candidate and champion of socially conservative values, is using uses lefty folk legend Woody Guthrie's famously anti-chauvinistic anthem to complain about closed monuments.

Both the Republican Party and the House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, are trying to tie vulnerable House members to the shutdown. Each party blames the other for "extremism." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has cut a radio ad accusing the president of refusing to compromise; Obama, in another ad, urges New Jersey voters in Wednesday's special Senate election to send Democrat Corey Booker to Washington as a vote of confidence in his side of the argument.

We'd love to tell you how much campaign committees have spent — and consultants have made — from this latest round in the nation's finger-pointing air wars but we can't. Till the government reopens, Political Ad Sleuth, our searchable, sortable database of political ad buys filed online with the Federal Communications Commission, is kaput.

Internet and TV ads capitalizing on the shutdown

See any not on our list? Email us here.