By Jon Keller, WBZ-TV Political Editor

BOSTON (CBS) – Would you like to take a guess how much money will be spent on the presidential and congressional campaigns by candidates, parties, Super PACs and other hangers-on?

Go ahead, take some time to think about it.

Political Editor Jon Keller reports

OK, time’s up. Would you believe more than $6 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics? That’s $700 million more than the previous record, and it’s a bi-partisan binge.

The Democrats tend to stuff themselves with public employee donations plus real estate and lawyer/lobbyist money; Republicans pig out on Wall Street and business dollars.

And all in the name of delivering… what, exactly? An edifying campaign? New ideas? Hope and leadership for a nation in need?

Not exactly. Long after most details of this presidential campaign have been forgotten, I’ll remember the Romney ad falsely claiming the president wants to do away with welfare reform, and the Obama campaign claiming Romney’s business decisions killed a woman.

Hopefully we’ll find out next Tuesday night and in the exit polls that follow whether or not the billions in attack ads made any real difference in the outcome, not to mention the hideously wasteful and useless party conventions. I bet they didn’t in any major way.

And if I’m right, it makes you think about the endless list of better ways in which that $6 billion could be used.

Hurricane disaster victim relief comes to mind. At a median salary of $50,000 a year, six billion could buy you 120,000 cops and take a bite out of crime.

At $38,000 a year for a middle school teacher, you could hire 157,000 of them and really cut class sizes.

But let’s get our priorities straight. All those billions made sure we knew that the Obama family took 16 vacations in three years, and that Ann Romney rides dressage horses.

Seems well worth it as we head to the polls, don’t you think?


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