Sheldon’s Lap Dogs

2016 Republican hopefuls head to the “Sheldon Adelson Primary” to speak before the GOP megadonor

2016 Republican Hopefuls Head To The “Sheldon Adelson Primary” To Speak Before The GOP Megadonor

This weekend, 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls will head to Nevada to the Republican Jewish Coalition’s spring meeting – a confab that the media have widely taken to calling the “Sheldon Adelson Primary” because of the billionaire casino mogul’s connection to the group. At the meeting, the 2016 hopefuls will have a chance to parade before Adelson and each make the case for why they should be next to move into the White House. Ted Cruz and Rick Perry are making an appearance at the coalition’s meeting this year, while Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio, the current “clear front-runner” in the Adelson sweepstakes according to sources, have met with Adelson previously.

As explained in a new CAP Action issue brief, the 2016 contenders’ appearance at the “Sheldon Adelson Primary” is no small thing. In 2012, Adelson and his wife sent $98 million to conservative outside spending groups and candidates, and possibly another $45-$55 million to dark money spending groups. The Adelsons can be powerful friends to have: as the campaign of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich began to founder, an Adelson-funded super PAC “single-handedly kept Gingrich’s presidential bid alive,” before the Adelsons moved on and became some of the biggest contributors to outside spending groups supporting Mitt Romney’s bid.

While we don’t know exactly what the GOP hopefuls will say this weekend, we do know that they’re committed to policies that provide more for the wealthy few but make it harder for working families to get ahead. Four of the top 2016 candidates support tax policies that could result in huge tax savings for Adelson and his wife. Under Bush, the Adelsons could cut an estimated $139.7 million of his total tax bill; with tax plans supported by Cruz and Perry, the Adelsons could save $144.1 million and $141.9 million respectively.

However, each of these 2016 hopefuls has opposed the Affordable Care Act, a key protection for hundreds of thousands of working Nevadans. The law has helped more than 280,000 Nevadans get access to health coverage through the insurance marketplace and the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, leading the uninsured rate in the state to decline by 4.3 percentage points, from 20 to 15.7 percent.

BOTTOM LINE: 2016 GOP contenders are showering Sheldon Adelson with attention, who together with his wife spent anywhere from $100-150 million in the 2012 election. The GOP’s presidential hopefuls may frame their pitches to the mogul by pledging to grow our economy and attack inequality, but their records reveal their support for policies that will give Adelson and the wealthy few still more ways to avoid paying their fair share while dismantling supports for working families. They may promise Adelson a windfall, but the GOP hopefuls’ policies are a bad deal for everyone else.

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