Say there was a law that limited how much a presidential candidate could spend during the election process per month all/most of the campaign money isn't used (According to this article there isn't much leftover PAC money). According to this site:

  • Hillary Clinton raised $703,718,750 and spent $639,635,565 ($64 mil leftover)
  • Donald Trump raised $322,446,734 and spent $302,488,918 ($19 mil leftover)
  • plus the other $300 mil raised by other candidates ($1.3 bil - 1 bil of Clinton and Trump combined)

Also keep in mind that some years candidates raise even more money like when Obama and Romney both raise more than 1 billion.

I'd assume candidates would still be raising outrageous amounts of money from donors who support their cause.

Factcheck says that excess campaign funds can't be used for personal use (monitored by the FEC)

If there was another law requiring excess PAC funds to be donated to the federal debt, would it be possible to eventually eliminate the federal debt?

The donated money would be applied to those debts that have the highest interest rate and then the smallest debts (in excess of 1mil)

Related question on campaign money being spent on government programs

  • 2
    If campaigns were limited in how much they could spend, why would they raise more money than that limit? Why wouldn't the excess monies be redirected towards collectors that weren't limited in their spending? Under what constitutional Authority would a hypothetical law force a private entity to surrender excess funds to the Federal Government for dispensation? Jan 12, 2017 at 21:08
  • This is a great example of a scale error.
    – Mark
    Jan 14, 2017 at 2:43

2 Answers 2


The US deficit in 2016: $590 billion.

Highest estimate for total campaign fundraising ever: $5 billion.

Note that this assumes that none of the campaign funds are spent and still leaves us $585 billion short just in 2016. That says nothing about paying down the existing debt.

Also, note that campaigns have expenses after finishing. While the Clinton and Trump campaigns may have had additional money on election day, they are likely to have spent at least some of it since.

  • Question refers to the federal debt, answer points at budget Deficit. Jan 12, 2017 at 20:59
  • 5
    @DrunkCynic If you can't even cover the current deficit, you're never going to pay off the debt. Not even in 14,000 years.
    – Brythan
    Jan 12, 2017 at 21:22
  • 1
    That point is correct, and would make a valuable transition towards properly critique the recommendations of the question if added. To the answer. Consider the importance of addressing each side of a mathematical equation in like terms. There is a relationship between the national debt and the federal budget deficit; why not explicitly state it instead of stopping at the implicit argument? Jan 12, 2017 at 22:25

I think that is a wonderful plan.

The Federal Debt is somewhere north of$18 trillion. (source)

Using your number of $1.3 billion excess every 4 years, the debt could be paid off in just under 14,000 years.

I'm sure my kids will sleep better knowing that.

  • 2
    In fact, since we now have a working plan to get rid of the national debt, I think Congress has now some room to increase spending or cut some taxes (or both :-D)
    – SJuan76
    Jan 12, 2017 at 20:13
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    This is incorrect. It's not 1.3bn excess, it's ~100mm excess. So that's 180,000 years to clear the debt or 0.000139% could be cleared off annually.
    – Alex
    Jan 13, 2017 at 10:45

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