October 20, 2012

Romney’s “Unique Qualifications” for the Economy

The Romney campaign likes to refer to Mitt as “uniquely qualified” for the office of the presidency. While I enthusiastically agree, I’d like to extend the phrase to a particular subset of the role: economic policy.

A couple days ago, I argued that a political windfall would potentially lay at Romney’s disposal should he win November 6th. To recap, that windfall would depend on a couple significant developments: job growth would have to pick up, the deficit would have to decrease, and Mitt would have to persuade the American public that his leadership directly contributed.

This time around, I’d like to go through a few ways Mitt’s background and policy positions can make progress on the most pressing component of the equation, the economy, in descending order of bipartisan support needed and, thus, ease of implementation.

First and foremost, day one of a Romney administration (and perhaps even the day after his election) would present a crystal-clear signal – a green light, of sorts – to the business community. We’ve seen countless stories about how the investor class and business leaders have increasingly kept cash on the sidelines, because of the painful uncertainty regarding tax and regulatory policy and the distinctly hostile attitude Washington and the culture at large has taken toward wealth, business, and success in general since the financial crisis of 2008.

Having Romney in the White House would essentially tell the business community, “There’s a new sheriff in town, and this one appreciates you. This one values what you do, so please, do it. We won’t demonize you, we’ll celebrate your achievements and contributions.” While policies obviously matter, rhetoric does, too. Having a president who understands the business community and uses the bully pulpit to lead a change in attitude toward capitalism, free enterprise, and success in general will make a huge impact from day one.

Now, onto the issues that would require legislation, starting with the one that would have the most bipartisan support: corporate tax reform. Our left-of-center friends and even President Obama himself often note, correctly, that the President supports reform of the corporate tax code. However, this is a matter of priorities, and Obama clearly doesn’t place corporate tax reform high on his list. A President Romney, however, would. And this issue truly does have a great deal of bipartisan support, so much so that Romney could easily get legislation on his desk in the early days of his administration. Numerous authorities have studied the stimulative effects of cutting the marginal rate to 25% or less – essentially the OECD average, reducing or eliminating deductions, and instituting a territorial tax system. This is an easy one, and Mitt would get it done, quickly.

The next issue would necessitate more bipartisan support, but still less than those I’ll discuss later, since Republicans could go the reconciliation route: healthcare reform. Mitt has made it no secret that he would embark on an endeavor to repeal Obamacare as soon as he took office. Removing the tax increases and crushing regulatory burden Obamacare would impose would certainly help job growth, but to promote the maximum positive impact on upward mobility, Romney would need to follow up Obamacare repeal with reform of his own.

Simply enabling states to “craft their own solutions” represents a marked improvement over the status quo, but he could take it one step further by moving toward a system that detaches healthcare from employer-based coverage. Empowering individuals to take their insurance plans from one job to another and especially to self-employment would make MASSIVE progress on one of the most important issues of the day: income growth. After all, studies have shown that people usually obtain the greatest raises when they accept promotions at different companies, but many hesitate to take the leap due to benefit-based concerns. Healthcare reform like that described above, along with the aforementioned corporate tax reform and improved attitude toward the business community would represent some of the most powerful measures Washington has taken to promote income growth and upward mobility in years. We must not underestimate the magnitude of this proposition, not merely from a political standpoint, but also from a personal perspective, as it would make a real, noticeable impact on millions of everyday lives.

After tackling these issues, President Romney could then move onto those that would involve the greatest across-the-aisle cooperation and, thus, the most challenging paths forward: personal income tax reform and entitlement reform. As Gov. Romney so compellingly argued in his first debate with Pres. Obama, reforming the personal income tax code would have a stimulative effect on the greatest job creators in our economy: small businesses.

And entitlement reform, while having less of an immediate effect on the employment picture, would still help, as it would supply another positive signal to the financial community – that taxes will not skyrocket in the future to chase runaway entitlement spending, and that America’s political leaders can break the gridlock on key issues. However, this would obviously involve extraordinary negotiation, effort, and political capital. As a result, a Pres. Romney should focus on it after addressing the other topics cited above, since those reforms and the subsequent boosts to the economy would create a proverbial political wind at his back and maximize his ability to secure public support of his positions.

Of course, while Mitt’s background of executive experience and cooperation with Democratic legislatures act as key components of his “unique qualifications”, we mustn’t discount the helping hand his running mate would play, as well. The influence and contacts Paul Ryan has built over his 13 years in the House would prove instrumental in stewarding Pres. Romney’s agenda through Congress.

In the end, Mitt Romney’s experience and positions on the issues do, indeed, render him uniquely qualified to provide the leadership and reform necessary to confront the matters most salient to the American public: economic revitalization, income growth, and upward mobility.

by @ 1:44 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Campaign Issues, Deficit, Economy, Mitt Romney, R4'12 Essential Reads, Spending

October 18, 2012

Great Challenges Bring Great Opportunity

Many within and outside the Republican Party have commented on the intimidating situation Mitt Romney would inherit (yes, I went ahead and used one of President Obama’s favorite words) if he won this election. The remarks usually fall along the following lines: “Romney will have to make so many tough and unpopular decisions to fix the economy and deficit that he won’t win a second term.”

While I certainly agree with the assessment of the situation facing the tenant of the Oval Office come January 20th, I’ll add a bit of a caveat to the forecasting of the 2016 election: because a President Romney would encounter such difficult circumstances, and because American voters understand this, a political windfall that would bear fruit for the Republican Party for years would potentially lie at his disposal.

After enduring almost four years of a near-collapse and painfully weak “recovery”, Americans have for the most part fully internalized the economic circumstances facing our elected officials. Therefore, they wouldn’t expect immediate results from a President Romney. In fact, many probably doubt he could even make a significant difference. The frequent references to a “new normal” by countless talking heads only compounds these beliefs. In effect, low expectations have become baked into the cake.

But, as we saw after the first general election debate, low expectations can become a tremendous advantage. If the economy started to produce strong job growth by the second or third year of a Romney administration, if the deficit finally began to shrink, and if Romney could persuasively argue that his actions contributed to these improvements, he’d enjoy a massive swell in public opinion, possibly to the extent that he’d cruise to a landslide re-election.

If this became reality, it could reverberate throughout the American political landscape for years. Bill Clinton showed just how effectively a president can re-brand his party with the right policies, messaging, and results, when he changed the public’s perception of Democrats from heirs to the Vietnam-protesting counterculture to champions of the middle class, siphoning off millions of votes from suburbanites and college students in the process. Under the right circumstances, Romney could re-brand the GOP as the “competence” party that gets things done on the big issues of the day (especially if he can spearhead and sign entitlement reform) and Democrats as ideologues out of touch with mathematical reality.

Obviously, A LOT would have to fall into place for all of this to happen, but the possibilities are very real.

September 24, 2012

Romney Opens Up Big Lead Among Middle-Class Voters

For those who haven’t seen it, Politico released an article that provided plenty of causes for optimism for Republicans.

Some key excerpts:

We took a special look at middle-class voters, and middle-class families in particular, in this latest POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll and found that [the belief that Romney has a weakness with middle-class support] not to be the case. In fact, on every measure it is Romney who is winning the battle for the support of middle-class families.

Overall, Obama leads Romney by just 3 points on the ballot (50 percent to 47 percent) – which before we rounded up, is actually a 2.6 point lead and only up a half-a-percentage point from the 2.1 point lead for Obama in our last Battleground poll in early August. In our latest POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll with middle-class families, which comprise about 54 percent of the total American electorate and usually split in their vote behavior between Republicans and Democrats, Romney holds a 14-point advantage (55 percent to 41 percent).

…All of this data make clear that Romney has won the strong support of middle-class families and is leading the president on an overwhelming majority of key measurements beyond just the ballot. In fact, when respondents were asked who, Obama or Romney, would best handle a variety of issues, Romney led on all but one including the economy (+9 percent), foreign policy (+3 percent), spending (+15 percent), taxes (+7 percent), Medicare (+2 percent), and jobs (+10 percent). Ironically, the one measurement Obama led Romney on was “standing up for the middle class” (+8 Obama), reinforcing that often the Democrats win the message war with the middle class, but not their hearts and souls.

…Even with the past few weeks containing some of the toughest days of earned media for the Romney campaign, and perhaps as a surprise to Washington insiders, Romney continues to win Republicans (Romney by a net +87 percent) by the same margin Obama is winning with Democrats (Obama by a net +88 percent), and is still winning with independents (+2 percent). Romney has majority support with voters over the age of 45 (+7 percent), with men (+6 percent), with white women (+9 percent), and with married voters (+14 percent). In addition, Romney has solidified his base. Support among conservative voters exceeds 70 percent (73 percent), his support among very conservative voters exceeds 80 percent (83 percent), and his support among Republicans exceeds 90 percent (91 percent). Romney is also receiving a higher level of support among Hispanics (40 percent), which is driven by higher support from Hispanic men.

…Fully 66 percent of voters select a pocketbook issue as their top concern. The Romney camp should feel good going into the three presidential debates knowing he has majority support (Romney 53 percent/Obama 44 percent) from these economically focused voters.

In fact, even with all of the misleading partisan attacks on the proposals from Ryan to reform Medicare, a majority of seniors (61 percent) select a pocketbook issue and not Medicare as their top issue of concern and nearly 6 in 10 seniors (58 percent) are voting for the Romney-Ryan ticket.

…A significant number of voters report that the upcoming presidential and vice presidential debates will be extremely (11 percent) or very (12 percent) important to their vote decision…This means the debates are one of the best opportunities available for Romney to take votes from Obama. If Romney can continue to make a solid case about turning around the economy and the direction of the country in contrast to the president’s failed economic policies, these voters will be watching and many of them are currently Obama supporters.

My takeaways:

1. Kudos to Politico, a site that has a reputation for leftward bias, for posting an article so favorable to Romney.

2. If this poll largely mirrors Team Romney’s internal numbers, the campaign’s play-it-safe strategy makes more sense. In all likelihood, they have long identified the debates as Mitt’s greatest opportunity, with his skill in the format, to pull ahead and thus hope to keep the race as close as possible until the first showdown. They’ll probably follow the debates with an all-out push, utilizing the campaign’s war chest to peak at the correct time.

3. The snippet about Romney winning the “brain” but losing the “heart” side of the equation for middle class support calls for a precise strategic response: Paul Ryan. They should let the Congressman do what he does best on the campaign trail. Let him talk about budgetary issues. Let him showcase his famed ability to connect with these voters on a personal level. Let Ryan be Ryan.

***Update:*** 4. Mitt’s surge in support from Hispanic voters came as a very pleasant surprise; if he manages to draw that number in the general election, he will have performed better than John McCain (31% in 2008), widely considered a Republican well-positioned for Hispanic support, and even Ronald Reagan (37% in 1984). Among recent GOP candidates, only George W. Bush has done better with this demographic (44% in 2004).

September 17, 2012

BREAKING: Romney Caught in Hot Mic Moment

Mother Jones has released a video showcasing audio of Mitt Romney at a recent fundraiser, at which he made some candid comments that do not play well in a general election:

Coming from a candidate infamous (some might say notorious) for his discipline and sense of caution, this will surely create a stir.

Now, of course, those on the right will largely agree with the substance of Mitt’s remarks. However, as previously stated, this will only further cement the “out-of-touch” perception surrounding Romney.

by @ 7:08 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Mitt Romney, R4'12 Essential Reads

August 12, 2012

Team Romney Rocks the Ryan Rollout

While watching Mitt Romney’s announcement of Paul Ryan as his VP choice and the Congressman’s subsequent address, it became quite clear that they seek to move the perception of the ticket – and, consequently, the Republican Party – in a new direction.

Of course, our always-insightful Dave Gaultier already has expanded on this notion, so I won’t venture into his territory; rather, I’ll cite aspects of the speech that I considered particularly effective.

First and foremost, Mitt began his portion of the rollout with Ryan’s personal background, making it a point to discuss the challenging circumstances the Budget Committee Chairman’s family faced during his youth. Romney then proceeded to highlight Ryan’s character, integrity, and honesty and praise his bipartisan efforts, optimism, and leadership. Words cannot express the importance of this, as Team Romney must do everything it can to get out ahead of the Democrats’ Mediscare tactics by defining Ryan in a positive light.

The Governor also didn’t just talk about Ryan’s favorite issues – the debt and budgetary reform, he also branched out into the all-important topics of income growth and economic revitalization. This provides a strong signal that the Romney campaign intends to fold Ryan’s specialty into a broad, comprehensive vision they’ll offer as an alternative to President Obama’s.

Also in the realm of messaging and defining the ticket, Mitt brought up the fact that Obamacare cuts Medicare by $800 billion and pledged to “strengthen and preserve” Medicare and Social Security. While this may offend some of our ideological sensibilities, a campaign that figures to get hammered on long-term entitlement reform must frame the issue on their favored terms. The aforementioned verbiage takes care of that.

During his speaking time, Ryan took care to describe himself as a solutions-oriented problem-solver. This is music to the ears of Independents, including my fellow suburbanites (especially those of the non-ideological variety). This also suggests to voters that while Romney-Ryan’s proposals will undoubtedly have foundations in conservative philosophy, the ticket does not consist of ideologues.

Along these lines, Ryan threw down the gauntlet to address the big issues and problems facing America. As DaveG has noted, many campaigns have paid lip service to these lofty ambitions in the past, but none have pushed them as one of the key tenets of their platform.

The Congressman took Gov. Romney’s attempts to resurrect Americans’ collective spirit to another level, specifically challenging the notion, widely embraced within the Beltway, of the “New Normal” and arguing that current conditions have dampened our sense of optimism and confidence in the future.

He reminded us that the Democrats enjoyed supermajorities in both houses of Congress during the first two years of the Obama administration, helping to counter the false narrative of Obama’s reform attempts getting stymied at every turn. He contrasted the pettiness of the Obama campaign and other Democrats with a vow to take a positive message of growth and opportunity to “every corner of the country”. He defended risk-taking and entrepreneurship (“If you have a small business, you DID build that!”). He repeatedly talked about income growth. And he definitively proclaimed, “We CAN turn this thing around!”

All in all, Rep. Ryan, Gov. Romney, and the rest of the campaign team collectively hit a home run with the announcement. They kept the media (and observers like us!) guessing until the very end, they ignited the enthusiasm of the Republican base, and they boldly moved the party in a new direction, one geared toward leadership on the tough issues of the day, solutions, and reform.

Buckle up, my friends, and get your popcorn ready. We’re in for quite a show this Fall!

August 3, 2012

Paul Ryan: Still the Best Option

These ideas began as a comment on my colleague Matthew Miller’s helpful reminder of Paul Ryan’s sheer brilliance when it comes to philosophical framing of the choice we face this November. I decided to turn it into a full-fledged post, to open up some debate on one of my favorite political topics, the Veepstakes, just ahead of Gov. Romney’s final decision.

Back in April, I advocated Congressman Ryan as Gov. Romney’s best choice for VP. Despite the scuttlebutt that Tim Pawlenty has pulled into a commanding lead on Mitt’s Veep depth chart, I maintain my preference of Ryan (and this comes from someone totally in the tank for T-Paw back during the primary campaign). I also take the view that Ryan would actually help more than Pawlenty among younger voters and moderates, by improving the ticket’s – and the Republican Party’s – brand.

First and foremost, Rep. Ryan would bring enormous intellectual heft to the ticket, as evidenced once again by the videos in the aforementioned Matthew Miller post. I don’t mean this to denigrate T-Paw as an intellectual lightweight, but few, if any, can better articulate the merits of capitalism, free enterprise, and limited government than our dear Budget Committee Chairman. This would go a long way toward changing the perception of the GOP (among young voters, moderates, suburbanites, and other growing demographics) from a rural-dominated group deficient in critical thinking to a liberty-focused, philosophically sophisticated bunch – closer to the positioning the party established during the Reagan years.

Many in Romney’s corner have voiced concern that tapping Ryan would shift the conversation away from the economy and onto his budget proposals. I may stand alone here, but I would welcome this shift if it changed the target of the Democrats’ attacks from Romney’s wealth – their current topic du jour – to entitlement reform. Class warfare is very powerful politically. It plays into voters’ insecurities and jealousies. People can do scary things when their emotions take over. And like it or not, Mitt already struggles with the “empathy” test. That, along with the electoral efficacy of class warfare, largely accounts for why Democrats have trained their fire on Mitt’s wealth so often in the campaign, and they show no signs of discontinuing. If he figures to get attacked for his success, anyway, why not at least strive to extract some benefit from it, by going all-in on long-term, structural budget reform with Rep. Ryan?

And that brings me to my next point: adding a counter-punch to the Romney campaign. Mitt has drawn criticism for relying too heavily on negativity, instead of following up his critiques of the President with proposals of his own. What better way to do that than to add arguably the biggest policy wonk among Republican elected officials in Washington, not to mention one of the most persuasive salesmen of conservative reform? Instead of simply arguing, in effect, “Obama’s policies stink,” Team Romney can go on the offensive with, “Obama’s policies stink, and we can do better. Here’s how.” We must not underestimate the significance of this; voters don’t always just want to vote against someone or something, they prefer to vote for something else, if given the chance. This especially holds true if the person they would have to vote against retains strong popularity on a personal level.

Last but not least, Ryan has spent 13 years in Washington. While that in itself carries some risk, it also means he has forged valuable relationships and connections on the Hill. Recent administrations have demonstrated the advantages of a vice president well-versed in the legislative process. As such, a Vice President Ryan could prove invaluable with spearheading a President Romney’s agenda through Congress. All the executive experience in the world doesn’t matter very much if the president can’t get any legislation passed. Ryan’s ability to help in this realm adds the figurative cherry on top for his case.

In the end, Paul Ryan may not have the greatest chances of getting the eventual nod from Gov. Romney, but when we take a step back and analyze the long-term implications of this campaign, he remains the best option.

August 2, 2012

New Obama Ad Continues Class Warfare Theme

The Obama campaign has released a new ad that has a familiar message: this Mitt Romney guy is, like, really rich, and he gets most of his income from capital gains, which get taxed lower than wages, so you should really dislike him, or something.

Here it is, in all its “glory”:

The analysis Rachel Weiner, of The Fix blog, offers contains some revealing information:

The ad will air in New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.

So, THIS is the material Team Obama plans to use in swing states? Instead of arguing anything positive about the President’s first term or his plans for a second, they’ll just prey on people’s insecurities and animosities? I obviously come from a biased point of view, but that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence (or intimidation, from our perspective).

Is this how far we’ve come from Hope and Change?

Fine, Mr. President, you stick to the class warfare, and Gov. Romney can stick to ads like this:

August 1, 2012

The Diversifying GOP

It’s not every day that the Republican Party gets some positive mainstream media coverage about minority inclusion, but we’ll take it when we can get it, especially from the Washington Post:

Ted Cruz’s come-from-behind victory in the Texas GOP Senate runoff on Tuesday — and the near-certainty that he will cruise to a general election win in November — ensures he will immediately join a rapidly growing group of rising national Republican stars that have one big thing in common: None of them are white.

…For a party that has struggled in recent years to escape the caricature that it is dominated by old, white men, the spate of minority faces rising to statewide office is a welcome development.

Since elected officials obviously serve as the most public faces of a party, this definitely represents a positive for the GOP. After all, in politics, perception is everything.

by @ 9:02 pm. Filed under Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, R4'12 Essential Reads, Republican Party

Back from Hiatus…Fired Up and Ready to Go!

After some time where I consciously tried to detach myself from the campaign (to avoid news that might make me feel pessimistic) and instead help my wife start our new business she runs, I find myself drawn right back into the race. Why? Simply put, President Obama.

As many have noted, the President gives us a little window into his philosophical mind when he lets his guard down and speaks off-the-cuff. The statements that have come about when he has lapsed into his statist streams-of-consciousness, topped off, of course, by the now infamous “You didn’t build that” drivel, have transformed this coming election into something greater than many, myself included, expected as recently as a few months ago.

Earlier this year, I wrote:

Wouldn’t it be nice to have an election that pits two competing broad visions of America’s future – of a private sector-driven market economy vs. state-managed corporatism – against each other for the voters to evaluate?

As it turns out, my hopes did become reality. It just took a little while.

Now, the choice we face has become strikingly clear; on the one hand, we have a President who offers the most anti-business, anti-capitalist, and anti-success ideology and rhetoric than possibly any other in history and definitely in recent memory. On the other hand, we have a nominee who has experienced firsthand some of the greatest gifts free enterprise has to offer. Gov. Romney has achieved success beyond most of our wildest dreams with the help of the very things that make capitalism so powerful: entrepreneurship, innovation, and reward for risking one’s wealth (read: property) on successful business ventures.

This now widely viewed ad from Sen. Scott Brown beautifully articulates and depicts this night-and-day dichotomy:

Many right-of-center observers have commented that it doesn’t really matter who we elect this November – that policy wouldn’t meaningfully change with either candidate in office come January. Even if you accept this line of reasoning, which I don’t, I would argue that the stakes remain high enough to care about the campaign, because of one key facet of the presidency: the bully pulpit.

At the end of the day, even if a commander-in-chief encounters opposition from an uncooperative Congress or challenging external events, their voice carries more influence than any other single person in the world. Because of that, their words matter. It matters if a president demonizes success and casts business owners in a suspect or outright negative light. It matters if they doubt the efficacy of our capitalistic system. And it matters if they question America’s future place in the world.

In contrast, it would matter if a new president celebrated entrepreneurs, encouraged the innovation and creative destruction essential to a thriving economy, and articulated a firm belief that free enterprise offers the greatest potential of prosperity for all. It would matter if they inspired a generation of younger Americans to dream of new advancements in technology, better ways to serve customers, and more powerful means to expand the economic pie, instead of simply further dividing up the existing pie. And it would matter if they forthrightly declared that America will maintain and even expand upon its preeminent status in the world.

As our 40th President told us nearly 50 years ago, this is a time for choosing. And because of that, to borrow a rallying cry from President Obama’s own 2008 campaign, I’m back, fired up, and ready to go!

by @ 4:40 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, R4'12 Essential Reads

May 9, 2012

The Battle for the Suburbs—The “Mature” Suburbs

It has been widely recognized and conceded that this year’s election is going to be decided in the suburbs of the Battleground States, and perhaps within the most swinging suburbs of the most swinging States.  Washington Post political columnist Chris Cillizza is out today with an analysis of the suburban “battle space.”  Most notable is his delineation and description of mature suburbs as opposed to the more outer suburbs and or exurbs.

But the “suburbs” is a very broad description that takes in areas that have very little in common aside from some basic geographic proximity to a major metropolitan area. Alexandria, Virginia and Purcelville, Virginia — for example — have very little in common other than they are both in the proximity of the D.C. metro area.

Thanks to the data and graphics gurus at the Washington Post — Ted Mellnik we are looking at you — we now can refine what exactly we mean when we talk about the the swing suburbs.

It’s the “mature suburbs”, areas that are 75 percent to 95 percent urban, where the battle between President Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will really be waged. Need examples of mature suburbs? Loudoun County (Va.), Pima County (Ariz.), and Kane County (Ill.) all qualify.

In 2004, President George W. Bush bested Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in the mature suburbs, which cast a total of 21.4 million votes, by nine points. Four years later, President Obama beat Arizona Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the mature suburbs 50 percent to 49 percent — winning two million votes more than Kerry in that key area.

Obama likely won win the mature suburbs in 2012 but he can’t afford to lose them by a double-digit large margin either.

The graphic below not only details the presidential candidates’ performance in the mature suburbs but also looks at how the 573 counties in the top 100 metro areas voted in 2004 and 2008.

(Fascinating factoid: Of the six counties on the map that went from Democratic in 2004 to Republican in 2008, three of them were in southwestern Pennsylvania.)

 

Read the full story here.

by @ 12:00 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Predictions, R4'12 Essential Reads

April 3, 2012

April 1, 2012

Paul Ryan for VP

This past week, my colleagues Matthew Miller and Dave Gaultier respectively made compelling cases for Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio as the next Vice Presidential nominee of the United States. Few subjects in politics interest me more than Veep discussion, so I decided to follow their lead and stump for my preferred running mate for Gov. Romney: the esteemed Congressman from the Badger State and visionary House Budget Committee Chairman, Paul Ryan.

I’ll begin by addressing the commonly cited downsides of Ryan-as-VP. First, some, such as Mr. Miller himself, have argued that putting Ryan on the bottom of the ticket would divert attention away from the top and essentially make the election a referendum on the Path to Prosperity (and if I have misrepresented Matthew’s position, I’ll stand corrected). I used to agree with this. However, in recent times, it has become obvious that Mitt’s healthcare – and, by extension, deficit – proposals largely mirror Ryan’s. Therefore, when considering the harsh scrutiny Republican presidential nominees receive during general election campaigns no matter what, I submit to you that having Ryan on the ticket wouldn’t make much of a difference. And in fact, if Mitt seeks to turn this election into a choice between two noticeably different visions for America’s future – a possibility I will examine later, his campaign may actually welcome the added attention, as it would reinforce the notion that they endeavor to offer the American public serious solutions to serious problems.

Along these lines, many have fretted the possibility that Romney’s running mate could eventually overshadow him, a la Sarah Palin and John McCain. However, when we consider the other “dream” running mates Republicans have most often cited for the Governor – Rubio, Jindal, Chris Christie, and Ryan – it becomes rather clear that the Chairman appears far less likely than the others to outshine Mitt in personality, charisma, or background. Ryan obviously brings extraordinary strengths to the table, but he doesn’t provide Christie’s edge-of-your-seat excitement, Rubio’s inspiring oratory, or Jindal’s jaw-dropping record of achievement and competence. This may provide more of a good match than a conflict with Romney’s seemingly risk-averse nature.

I’ve made it no secret that I harbor a fondness for the Cheney/Biden VP model – of a Washington insider (excuse the dirty word) with an intimate knowledge of political and legislative dynamics and the ability to spearhead the president’s agenda through Congress. More so than the other oft-mentioned top choices, Ryan fits this profile. While he has taken great pains to preserve his reluctant citizen-politician image, the fact remains that Ryan keeps an ear firmly to the ground when it comes to political sentiment. Consequently, he could serve as a key policy adviser to a President Romney and help him shape his agenda to best adapt to political realities. He could also utilize his sterling reputation and extensive connections in Washington to win over key support on crucial legislation. The president (thankfully) only has so much unilateral power, so all the executive experience in the world will not amount to enough for Romney if he can’t get Congress to work with him.

Above all, Romney should tap Ryan if he seeks to make this election the aforementioned choice between two competing visions for America’s future – between the government-driven corporatism Obama offers and the private sector-driven opportunity society that Romney professes to desire. More than any alternative, Paul Ryan would help center the focus of the fall campaign on the most important issue facing the country: our debt and deficit.

I suppose we can look at it this way: if Mitt cares most about political considerations, he should go with Sen. Rubio. If he cares most about executive competence and nuts-and-bolts governing, he should opt for Gov. Jindal. But if he cares most about addressing the biggest of the big issues of the day, he should select Chmn. Ryan.

Photo h/t to talkingpointsmemo.com

by @ 9:55 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Mitt Romney, R4'12 Essential Reads, Republican Party, Veep Watch

The Path to Prosperity Beats the Alternatives

The Bipartisan Policy Center has produced a nifty graph comparing Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity to the plans prepared by Alice Rivlin and former Sen. Pete Domenici, Simpson-Bowles, House Democrats, President Obama, and the BPC itself (to provide a baseline). The results are striking:

And to top it off, these numbers use the CBO’s pessimistic growth assumptions.

Of course, some have attacked the Path to Prosperity from the right, arguing that it doesn’t go far enough or balance the budget quickly enough. However, we must remember that Chairman Ryan incorporated a keen understanding of political reality when he compiled the plan. When we consider this, the merits of the Path look all the more impressive.

by @ 1:57 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Deficit, R4'12 Essential Reads, Spending

February 29, 2012

Obama Ramping Up Campaign Rhetoric

President Obama has begun to telegraph the type of messaging he’ll use during the upcoming general election:

Given that reality [a sluggish economy], Obama needs to find smaller success stories that allow him to effectively make a “promises made, promises kept” argument. The recovery of the auto industry is sure to be front and center in that argument from the Administration.

“If we had turned our backs on you; if America had thrown in the towel; GM and Chrysler wouldn’t exist today,” Obama said to huge cheers from the UAW crowd. “I placed my bet on American workers…three years later, the American auto industry is back.”

Promise made, promise kept.

But then Obama sought to broaden out the argument — making the case that what he did for the auto industry is what separates him from the men vying to be the Republican presidential nominee this fall.

Said Obama: “You want to talk about values? Hard work — that’s a value. Looking out for one another — that’s a value. The idea that we are all in it together — that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper — that is a value.”

…In the space of a single speech that spanned just over 2,000 words, Obama summed up the entirety of his re-election message: 1) There have been provable successes because of actions his Administration has taken 2) He better understands what it means to be an American than do Republicans and 3) The Republican philosophy toward government represents a step backwards not a step forward.

While the philosophy the president espoused may appeal more to our collectivist than individualistic natures, we cannot deny the appeal of this kind of rhetoric to the broad public, especially the notoriously fickle low-information swing voters.

No matter whether Obama squares off against Romney or Santorum, his argument still has the potential to resonate among enough people to nudge him over the line. In short, Republicans sure have their work cut out for them this Fall.

by @ 6:00 am. Filed under 2012 Misc., Barack Obama, Democrats, R4'12 Essential Reads, Republican Party

February 21, 2012

Romney’s Tax Plan, Phase 2.0

Numerous observers (especially those of the supply-side persuasion) have eagerly awaited the release of Mitt Romney’s long-awaited addendum to his tax proposals. With a hat tip to James Pethokoukis, Larry Kudlow passed along the following:

Team Romney tells me there will be a bolder tax-cut plan released either at the debate tomorrow night (if Mitt gets it in) or more formally at his Detroit Economic Club speech on Friday. I’m embargoed from releasing details until tomorrow. But I can say that the new plan will be across-the-board with supply-side incentives from rate reduction, and that it will help small-business owners as well as everyone else.

Pethokoukis then offers some predictions regarding the proposal’s content:

– Romney has said he doesn’t want to raise capital gains tax rates, which Simpson-Bowles does.

– Romney wants to lower the corporate rate to at least 25 percent, meaning the top marginal tax rate probably needs to be in that vicinity.

– Romney is unlikely to suggest a net tax increase.

– Romney is unlikely to propose anything that would result in his own taxes directly being cut.

– Romney is unlikely to suggest “paying for” upper-income tax hikes by raising taxes on the middle class.

– Romney economic adviser Glenn Hubbard recently suggested “a progressive consumption tax, equalising the tax treatment of debt and equity, and drastically lowering tax rates on dividends and capital gains.”

A bold, supply side-friendly plan carries plenty of potential to make inroads among the party base, but it also further exposes him to class warfare attacks (“Gov. Romney wants to give more tax breaks to rich people like him, while the the middle class continues to struggle.”).

However, with the troubles he has recently encountered, this seems like a risk worth taking. Many have lamented that Romney’s campaign lacks “vision” – an overarching theme that clearly articulates the main goals of a Romney administration, or, phrased more bluntly, justification for its existence. By injecting some supply side into his campaign, Romney can take up the prosperity “mantle” and entice Americans with the prospect of a more dynamic and vibrant economy – and, consequently, country.

by @ 7:36 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Mitt Romney, R4'12 Essential Reads

February 18, 2012

GOP Leaders Prepare Santorum Contingency Plan

I call your attention to today’s installment of what has begun to seem like daily brokered convention/white knight rumors:

Most reporters still think Romney “will find a way to win Michigan.” Nevertheless, some of the nation’s most powerful Republicans are poring over filing deadlines and pondering worst-case scenarios.

Our friend handed us a printout of FEC deadlines for ballot access, with five of them circled and starred: California (March 23), Montana (March 12), New Jersey (April 2), New Mexico (March 16) and South Dakota (March 27). The point: Even after Feb. 28, it might be possible to assemble a Hail Mary candidacy that could garner enough delegates to force a CONTESTED convention (a different nuance than BROKERED, which implies that someone is in charge).

Under RNC rules, the delegate count builds slowly: just 15% before Super Tuesday, March 6; 19% through Super Tuesday (brings you to 34%); 17% in the rest of March (brings you to 51%); with 48% in April, May and June (21%, 12%, 15%).

Our friend said: “If somebody came on the scene that week after Super Tuesday with, ‘I’m coming in. I’m taking a look at this,’ there are enough delegates. He would suck all the oxygen out of the race.

At this point, the unfolding of this race has so often taken me by surprise that I no longer place much stock in predictions even by me. But, for what it’s worth, I’ll opt against categorically ruling out a brokered (or contested, as the cited article suggests) convention.

Of course, the conversation then turns to who (or is it “whom”?) would benefit from the unrest in the party and become the white knight. For my money (keep in mind how poorly I’ve fared with foreseeing the proceedings of this race), I can’t see the GOP rallying behind Jeb Bush, with his toxic last name and the treasure trove of campaign material it would bring. Mitch Daniels doesn’t seem to have the personality to clear the “intensity” hurdle the base clearly seeks in a potential nominee. Nor does Bobby Jindal. Chris Christie doesn’t seem to want it. Neither does Marco Rubio (nor does he likely feel ready). Mike Huckabee appears too comfortable in his media role. Sarah Palin generates too much uneasiness among much of the party faithful. And for the nostalgic, Rudy Giuliani would have a difficult time convincing voters of his relevance.

Thus, for my money, I’ll have to agree with my esteemed colleague Matthew Miller and argue that Paul Ryan seems like the most logical and realistic choice. As Matthew frequently notes, Ryan still has one of the highest profiles of anyone in the party, especially when budget season rolls around. And both the grassroots and upper levels of the party hold him in high regard. What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

February 8, 2012

It’s the Economy, Stupid…Or Is it?

While nearly every political onlooker, including yours truly, has expected that the 2012 election will revolve around the economy, recent events have cast some doubt on that assumption. As Rachel Weiner, of the Washington Post, reports:

For months, the Republican presidential candidates have hammered away on the economy — and only the economy — as they crisscrossed the campaign trail. But over the past few days, longtime social issues — contraception, abortion and gay marriage — have taken the stage in the campaign.

First, Planned Parenthood supporters helped force the resignation of Susan B. Komen Foundation executive Karen Handel after the breast cancer organization cut grants to the family planning group.

Then Catholic bishops began sparring with the White House over a new mandate that all employers cover birth control for women, with very narrow exemptions for Catholic-run institutions.

And on Monday, a federal appeals court in California struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, prompting outrage from the GOP candidates.

…How long this spike in passion over social issues will last is unclear. There were no exit polls from Tuesday night, but in other states the economy is consistently the voters’ top concern.

Still, the longer this wave goes on, the more it hurts Romney, who has supported abortion rights in the past.. He has struggled among evangelicals and voters who oppose abortion in all circumstances.

One can’t help but ponder whether Obama had something like this planned all along. It has become no secret that his greatest vulnerability lies with Independents, who propelled him to election in 2008 but have since grown skeptical of his administration.

Perhaps the President, searching for a means to lure back these pivotal voters without angering the Democratic base and thus risking the progress (no pun intended) his populist turn in the last year has made, figured that he had another option.

Wooing the Center on economic issues would most likely require Clintonesque messaging focused more on growth than “fairness” (read: redistribution) – not exactly what the Left wants to hear. He already enjoys strong approval numbers on foreign policy among Indies, so he can’t really shake up things much in that realm. However, when it comes to social matters – especially issues like contraception and gay marriage – nonpartisan voters increasingly side with the Democrats. So, by bringing social issues to the forefront, perhaps Obama calculated that he could provoke Republicans into caricaturing themselves as champions of the Religious Right, thus scaring Independents away from the GOP and into the Democrats’ open arms.

Maybe I’ve just over-thought this (you don’t say, a political junkie over-analyzing a potentially minor event in a presidential campaign?), and these events have converged merely out of coincidence. Regardless, it appears that we may see yet another piece of conventional wisdom about this election shattered.

by @ 8:24 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Barack Obama, Democrats, R4'12 Essential Reads, Republican Party

February 7, 2012

Should We Focus on Demand to Spur the Economy?

In case I haven’t made it blatantly obvious, I like to turn to AEI’s James Pethokoukis when it comes to economic commentary and analysis. He does another number today on the Keynesians’ obsessive focus on the demand side of the economy. He begins with two charts, courtesy of the BLS and adds the following:

These charts are based on the U.S. Job Openings and Labor Turnover report. The first chart shows that with 13.1 million people unemployed, there were an estimated 3.9 unemployed people for every opening. That’s the lowest level since December 2008. Good news.

Yet, as can be seen in the second chart, job openings have been rising faster than hiring. As Barclays concludes: “This suggests that factors such as mismatched skills continue to be frictions in the labor market.”

Or, in other words, people who lost their jobs in the Great Recession will not be able to return to their old jobs or even new jobs in the same industry.

He then points to a recent article in the WSJ, written by Arnold Kling:

Many jobs in home construction, durable-goods manufacturing and distribution, and mortgage finance were dependent on housing markets with ever-rising prices. In the U.S. and the U.K. in particular, the finance industry expanded well beyond its true economic value. Once the property bubbles burst, these jobs were exposed as not viable. Meanwhile, ongoing creative destruction brought about by the Internet and globalization have continued to allow substitution of capital and emerging-market labor for industrialized countries’ labor in many sectors. Together, these phenomena have caused widespread dislocation. … The necessary adjustments can only be made by the decentralized efforts of entrepreneurs. …

The Keynesian story would lead one to expect a recovery to consist of workers returning to the jobs that they held prior to the recession. That is not what happened after the Great Depression. It is not what has happened in recent recessions in the U.S., particularly the one that ended in 2009. Regaining full employment requires significant restructuring of the economy, rather than simply returning to the pre-slump status quo.

We’ve heard the standard arguments from the Keynesnians over and over again: Effective tax rates on individuals and businesses stand at or near historical lows, the Fed has interest rates at rock-bottom levels, and yet the rich and their companies still sit on trillions in cash, so what else can we do except stimulate demand via government spending until the private sector can once again shoulder the burden of driving growth?

Setting aside the Keynesians’ convenient avoidance of the simple truth that without the profit and price mechanisms depended on by the private sector, the government can never know exactly how much to pump into the economy and when to do it, the data and arguments voiced by Pethokoukis and Kling highlight only a fraction of the evidence against central planner orthodoxy and Obamanomics. Now, if only we could get the mainstream media to report this…

by @ 8:30 pm. Filed under Barack Obama, Deficit, Democrats, R4'12 Essential Reads

February 1, 2012

Romney’s Political Problem

For those who haven’t heard, Mitt Romney, fresh off his blowout Florida victory, stepped in it today, with yet another gaffe that looks even worse when you consider who said it:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT8PkyMLR30[/youtube]
It doesn’t matter if he answered Soledad O’Brien’s follow-up question with righteous indignation (whether authentic or not), statements like this continue to provide general election campaign fodder for President Obama and other Democrats. In case you need a refresher, here you go:

At two points in the campaign, Romney has described his desire to fire people — first a health insurance provider and then a hypothetical adviser who told him a moon colony was a good idea. That context aside, both could be very unhelpful sound bites for someone whose biggest liability may lie with people laid off by Bain Capital.

In the same vein is Romney’s “corporations are people” argument at the Iowa State Fair. And then there’s the time he defended banks.

And let’s not forget the time when Romney offered Texas Gov. Rick Perry a $10,000 bet at a debate, or the time he only had $100 bills in his wallet and needed an aide to hand him a single, or the time he gave an unemployed woman a $50 bill (who carries around $50 bills?).

…Romney’s liability, though, seems to be in how often he reinforces his wealth and appears out of touch with average Americans. And the more concise he makes those moments, the better it is for Obama’s team.

I’m sure all this will infuriate our numerous die-hard Romney supporters, but we discount and dismiss these blunders at our own peril, as they only lend credence to the perception Americans already hold:

Now, I don’t write this to argue in favor of Newt Gingrich (or any other candidate, for that matter), as that WaPo poll shows he only fares worse in the image department. I just hope the Romney campaign realizes just how much work their candidate has to do.

by @ 9:00 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, R4'12 Essential Reads

January 29, 2012

Ups and Downs for Mitt Leading Into Florida

Today, Politico had two interesting articles about Mitt Romney’s electoral prospects and the current state of the race in Florida. The first details the recent success Mitt has had in the Sunshine State:

Like they have throughout the primary, the two Florida debates this week played a major role in Romney’s resurgence.

Romney took advantage of both debate audiences. The quiet, smaller crowd in Tampa allowed him to accentuate his sober demeanor. In Jacksonville, the hall was packed with vocal Romney supporters, much to Gingrich’s frustration.

Romney used both occasions to charge after Gingrich who, without the crowd on his side, was visibly off his game and didn’t go on the offensive.

The change was palpable, showcasing a different Romney than the unsteady South Carolina debater, in part thanks to new debate coach Brett O’Donnell, McCain’s and Michele Bachmann’s former coach.

…It shouldn’t be underestimated how much the Romney operation has managed to get into Gingrich’s head. From its first day in Florida, the campaign held daily anti-Newt conference calls featuring campaign surrogates. The calls didn’t break news, but left Gingrich to defend ever more allegations about his time as speaker and post-House career.

And there were the real-time Romney surrogates, tasked with trailing Gingrich from event to event and offering rebuttals to reporters in real time.

This so aggravated and distracted the Gingrich campaign that spokesman R.C. Hammond wound up in a yelling match Friday with Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz at a Delray Beach event. Chaffetz, using the Romney campaign’s buzzword for Gingrich, said Hammond became “unhinged” in responding to him.

…There was no way Romney was going to match the thousands of people Gingrich drew to campaign rallies Tuesday in Sarasota and Naples.

So he didn’t try.

Instead, the Romney advance operation built a series of small, made-for-TV events at the beginning of the week to spotlight the campaign’s message.

One, a Monday roundtable with eight people hit by the mortgage crisis, had as witnesses only the traveling press. The next day, Romney spoke to an invite-only crowd in an empty Tampa warehouse and stood in front of a foreclosed-by-Freddie Mac house to spotlight the mortgage broker for which Gingrich consulted.

As recently as Tuesday, Romney senior aide Eric Fehrnstrom told reporters the campaign would stick to “message-driven” events rather than big rallies.

I came away with two chief conclusions after reading this piece: 1. Romney has surrounded himself with a highly capable staff that knows how to adapt to changing circumstances and handle the cards dealt to them; and 2. It bodes poorly for Newt’s general election prospects if he and his team cannot handle the challenges imposed by a primary race. If they can’t cope with Romney surrogates pressuring them, how on earth can they possibly expect to combat the full weight of the Obama organization and the Democratic machine?

Unfortunately, with the positives, come some negatives, as highlighted by the next Politico article:

Obama’s biggest challenge, the CW goes, is winning back a percentage, however modest, of independents that have deserted him wholesale since 2009. So, it’s with no small degree of satisfaction that they are closely watching Mitt Romney’s recent swan dive with swing voters.

A poll-of-polls analysis of Romney’s recent unfavorable rating with indies, provided to POLITICO by a Democratic strategist, shows that the race has driven him way underwater, with more than 50 percent of unaffiliated voters given him failing grade; Only about a quarter of independents give him a favorable approval rating.

Romney’s staff says that this is simply a product of a ferocious GOP primary, and his numbers will rebound once the tidal wave of negative super PAC advertising recedes; Dems say voters are turned off by Romney’s Eddie Haskell, say-anything-to-get-elected style.

The latest bad news for Romney a Washington Poll poll last week showing him with a 23 percent approval/49 percent disapproval split with independents. Red siren, that: His unfavorables had been in the 30s, not bad, in recent months.

…But Obama, whose health care reform remains as popular with centrist voters as dry rot, will accept misery-loves-company parity. Romney’s unfavorables are also spiking with the larger electorate, up from 42 percent last year to 45 percent this month, according to the Pew poll.

“This is not normal,” the Democratic memo reads. “Republicans may claim that this is typical of a primary process — it is not.”

We Republicans cannot simply brush off this information. With the expanding numbers of Independents in recent years, if the GOP hopes to maintain long-term viability, Republican candidates need to enhance their appeal to these voters. Romney must launch an all-out assault to address this reality as soon as he (presumably) wraps up the nomination.

by @ 1:10 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Barack Obama, Democrats, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, R4'12 Essential Reads

January 26, 2012

Thinking Conservatives Are Now Getting Serious About Newt

It appears that many conservative activists are now having to look themselves in the mirror and ask:  Do we want to win, move the ball and actually accomplish something constructive; or, do we want to just emote, fight, make a lot of noise, and lose.

Many in the Conservative Media, and assorted other activists, have decided it’s time to speak out and tell what those of us who have seen him up close know to be the real Newt.  A nice summary can be found at the following link to Politico.  There are several pieces to this story, together with sublinks, that make for interesting reading.  The links to related stories as reported by Drudge can be found here.

For obvious personal reasons, I find some of the accounts by former Reagan Administration officials to be particularly notable since, according to Newt, he was the Right Hand of Reagan coaching him on the development of the strategic policies that revived the economy and won the Cold War.  Yet, here is what former Assistant Secretary of State and former National Security Council senior staff member, Elliott Abrams, had to say in National Review.  Abrams’ account is consistent with my own recollections of Newt during the ’80s.

If the most recent trends in Florida polling are accurate, folks are once again catching on to “The Great Manipulator.”   At times a British perspective on things American can be both amusing and accurate such as this recent quote from The Economist.

That Mr Gingrich is a cartoon of a corrupt demagogue doesn’t seem much to matter. Not only do conservatives believe Mr Gingrich feels their pain, they believe he seeks their revenge. That’s thrilling.  Mr Romney’s challenge tonight is to talk conservatives down from the ledge without worsening his position by insulting them for climbing up there with Newt in the first place.

by @ 11:08 am. Filed under Newt Gingrich, R4'12 Essential Reads

January 11, 2012

Sorry Ron, Mitt’s the Guy

As regular visitors to Race know, I went out on a limb and publicly endorsed Ron Paul less than a month ago.

As I stated at the time, my residence in Iowa lent my support greater-than-average weight. However, I ended up missing the caucuses, on account of needing to get my appendix removed the same day. So, in the end, my backing didn’t really count for much.

At the time I wrote my endorsement, I explained that I liked Gov. Romney, I just feared that the party base would never completely warm up to him, forever suppressing his political capital upon entering office. I still harbor that concern, but recent events have led me to overlook them, due to the stakes involved.

The recent adoption of anti-capitalistic, anti-free enterprise attacks (and for those naysayers who still scorn private equity, I direct you to this magnificent article) from the Democrats and, most alarmingly, other Republican candidates (I’m looking at you, Newt, Ricky P., and Jon!) has revealed just how important this race has become. This election will not simply come down to a choice between a Democrat and a Republican (although, with the way Gingrich, Perry, and Huntsman have talked lately, you’d be forgiven if you couldn’t tell the difference), it figures to evolve into a choice between European-style social democracy and the vibrant, entrepreneurial capitalistic system America so successfully pioneered.

Indeed, as a brilliant commentator I have often linked to here, Jim Pethokoukis, observed today:

Some conservatives were hoping Rep. Paul Ryan would run for president and challenge Barack Obama — not just on his economic record but also his economic vision for America. Probably no conservative in politics today does a better job than Ryan in contrasting the differences between pro-growth, entrepreneurial capitalism and stagnant, state-managed capitalism. But Mitt Romney did a pretty fair homage to Ryan during his New Hampshire victory speech last night[.]

…Some conservatives have worried that Romney would try to make the election all about Obama’s failures — which gets slightly tougher as the economy slowly improves — rather than making an affirmative argument about where he wants to take America. Romney’s speech sure suggests such worry is unnecessary if he is the eventual nominee.

Well said, sir.

Making my decision even easier, the messaging Romney has featured in the last month, or so, has come as music to my ears. His laser-like focus on his optimistic vision of America’s future – a future complete with growth, opportunity, and rising incomes across the board – sounds precisely the right notes for a Republican presidential candidate. I try to avoid the Reagan comparisons that far too many in the party employ, but Mitt’s “Believe in America” themes bear a striking resemblance to the Gipper’s fabled “Morning in America” campaign ads.

To top it off, Romney’s experience with a Democratic legislature in Massachusetts and his non-ideological posture during the campaign assures me that he will not allow himself to get distracted by partisan flame-throwing and gamesmanship. Sure, he may at times irritate the party base by accepting a less-than-perfect outcome to move the ball forward, but we need that kind of leadership if we truly hope to make a dent in the sad state of our political and financial affairs. As the saying goes, something is better than nothing. An agreement that produces 70% of a desired outcome beats 100% of the status quo.

In the end, while I do not regret my initial endorsement of Dr. Paul, recent events have opened my eyes to the sheer magnitude of the choice we face. A Romney nomination and presidency would afford the opportunity to re-draw the political map (assuming he picks the right running mate and maintains his campaign strategy) and re-orient the Republican Party away from identity politics and toward ideas and solutions. When I picture how a Romney administration might look, I envision Mitt working hand-in-hand with visionaries like Paul Ryan, Pat Toomey, and Vice President Christie, Rubio, or Jindal (my preferences, in that order) to craft and implement landmark reforms to address our economy, deficit, and debt, and I like what I see.

Now is the time. The wishful thinking for white knights and brokered conventions is over. The choice is clear. It’s Mitt.

Romney Dominates New Hampshire

Mitt Romney absolutely crushed last night’s New Hampshire primary, no doubt about it. Aaron Blake, of the Washington Post, penned an excellent analysis of the returns, detailing just how impressive of a performance Mitt had:

Specifically, the exit polls showed that Mitt Romney is the pick of pragmatists who want to beat President Obama and that everybody else in the field has a very defined base of support that calls into question any chance they may have of winning the GOP nomination.

…The former Massachusetts governor, in his double-digit win, took a stunning 62 percent of those who say they see the ability to beat Obama as the most important characteristic in a nominee, even more than he took in Iowa.

He also led all candidates among those who see the economy as the most important issue, taking 45 percent and doubling up second-place Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) on that measure.

This continues to argue for the fact that Republicans see Romney as their best hope for the race ahead, and that bodes well as he inches closer to becoming the presumptive nominee. He does pretty well among essentially every group — even upping his vote share among self-described “very conservative” voters in New Hampshire — and figures to have a good shot at picking up supporters from opponents who may drop out in the coming days.

To top it off, Romney also obviously became the first non-incumbent candidate to win the first two Republican nominating contests. In short, with campaign dynamics leading him to adopt an optimistic message focused on free enterprise, capitalism, and a brighter future, he looks VERY tough to beat, especially with his prospects in South Carolina appearing stronger than some believe.

January 9, 2012

The Democrats’ Stealth Campaign Against Romney

The Drudge Report linked to an infuriating article about how the Democratic National Committee has resorted to financially supporting an individual who got laid off from the company Ampad, which Bain Capital famously owned at one point:

As reporters and Mitt Romney supporters filed outside the gymnasium where the former Massachusetts governor had led a raucous rally ahead of the primary here Tuesday, Randy Johnson, a stooped and bearded man in late middle age, stood silently to the side and watched. Nearby, an operative with the Democratic National Committee directed reporters to him, where one by one, Mr. Johnson told them his story.

The 57-year-old described how he worked at a factory making office supplies owned by Smith Corona, which facing bankruptcy, sold his plant to another company, Ampad, that has recently been acquired by Bain Capital. Ampad promptly fired all of the workers at the plant, and then re-hired most of them. Since they were a union shop, and over half of the employees had been re-hired, the new owners were forced to recognize the union. They tried to renegotiate the contract, but the union eventually decided to go on strike, so Ampad shuttered the once-profitable factory.

…He sat out the 2008 race, but now Mr. Johnson is planning to travel around the country, and wait patiently on the side of Mitt Romney’s campaign events, prepared to tell his story to anyone who wants to listen.

…The DNC, he says, pays for his flights and for a hotel room, and he needled the DNC operative following him around for making him pay for tolls and buy lunch as they travelled around New Hampshire.

My stomach nearly turned when I read this. Sadly, we should expect this nonsense to only exacerbate should Romney get the nomination.

Attacks on Bain Capital as egregious purveyors of Gordon Gekko-style capitalism betray a lack of knowledge of the private equity industry and investing in general. As the esteemed James Pethokoukis explained today:

Well, Romney was really good at what he did. And what he did, initially, was venture capital, providing dough to promising young firms. Then he shifted to private equity, which is a) using investor money and debt to take over a business, b) attempting to improve its profitability (which may mean cutting the workforce), and c) selling the business and, as the WSJ, puts it, “extracting fees and sometimes dividends.”

That a small percentage of the Bain deals supplied most of the firm’s gains should not be surprising. Whether you are a private equity investor or a do-it-yourself stock picker, the key is letting your winners run and limiting the damage from your losers. Recall how famed Fidelity manager Peter Lynch always said he was on the hunt for “ten-baggers”—stocks where he could make ten times his original investment. A good investor is like a good baseball hitter. A .300 average gets you on the all-star team.

See, there is something called the Pareto Principle, which states that “for many events, roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes.” So 20 percent of customers, taxpayers, and investments often produce 80 percent of sales, revenue, and profits. Bain certainly seems to be another example of the Pareto Principle at play. A few big winners such as Staples, The Sports Authority, and Domino’s may well have provided a good chunk of the firm’s profits and the “over 100,000? jobs created (which Team Romney needs to do better at substantiating).

On the bright side, the emergence of these attacks so early in the campaign grants Team Romney more time to craft a defense.

by @ 5:52 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Democrats, Mitt Romney, R4'12 Essential Reads

January 6, 2012

December 24, 2011

The Racist Newsletter Author Exposed

As Newt Gingrich plummets and the single-digit candidates languish, the presidential race is shaping up to be a two-man race: Ron Paul (the Iowa frontrunner) and Mitt Romney (the New Hampshire frontrunner).

Romney has faced his fair share of attacks for his records and statements, but the heat is just beginning to turn up on Paul. At one time, it was thought that Paul’s non-interventionist foreign policy and laissez-faire social policy were his biggest liabilities. As voters everywhere, from the right to the left, grow tired of the endless wars and nation building, and as a majority of Americans now support full legalization for hemp and legal equality for gays, the country has found Paul to be more mainstream and tuned in to the average American household than previously assumed. The conventionally estimated “ceiling” of Paul’s support seems to be shattered anew each week, as Paul’s support rises with no end in sight.

The one hurdle that threatens to cause the most trouble for Congressman Paul consists of a series of newsletters that were published under his name during the early 1990’s. While the bulk of the newsletters consisted of sermons on economics, lessons in constitutional interpretation, and financial advice, there are a good handful of quotes that are, to say the least, despicable. Everything from calling Martin Luther King, Jr. a communist philanderer, to saying that only “5% of blacks have sensible political opinions,” to referring to blacks as “animals,” to salivating over a coming “race war.”

While these quotes would be damning for Paul’s campaign had they actually been written by Ron Paul himself as the header on the newsletter implied they were, there is no corroborating evidence that Ron Paul ever used this kind of language or espoused these kinds of opinions elsewhere at any time. Even Austin, Texas’s NAACP President Nelson Linder, a 20-year friend of Paul’s, has come to the Congressman’s defense on this issue. There is evidence that Paul occasionally read content in the newsletters during this time, and was aware that there were some controversial statements being made, but it appears Paul was not aware at the time of the full extent of the problem. Faulting him for not taking a more controlling attitude over the newsletter that bore his namesake is a legitimate criticism, but making Paul out to be an actual racist is quite a challenge.

Paul was one of the congressmen who voted for the establishment of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a federal holiday in November, 1979, possibly a rare exception to his lifelong strict constitutionalism (seeing as the Constitution does not authorize Congress to declare holidays for the entire nation, and seeing as giving federal bureaucrats paid holidays is not entirely fiscally conservative). Rep. Paul voted for the holiday at a time when Rep. Newt Gingrich opposed the idea. Ron Paul has time and again held up King as a personal hero to emulate, has always referred to all people as valuable individuals, and has never savored the thought of any “race wars” or aggressive violence of any sort (even garnering some criticism for expressing concern about the unsober way in which many reacted to the violent deaths of enemies like bin Laden or Qaddafi).

But if the grotesque utterings that pockmark those newsletters did not come from the pen of Congressman Paul, then whose are they? The answer has been a poorly kept secret among libertarian circles for years: self-professed “paleolibertarian” writer Lew Rockwell, of LewRockwell.com. A 2008 Reason article received word from a half dozen libertarian activists close to Paul who confirmed that Rockwell was the chief writer of the racist newsletter articles. Paul’s opponents have been reluctant to pin the racist remarks on Rockwell because they’d rather try to pin it on Paul, and Paul himself has been reluctant to shove the blame off on Rockwell because that’s not Paul’s style. As a libertarian who does not worship at the altar of demigods like Rockwell, however, I have no qualms about pointing out the emperor’s nakedness.

The evidence is plain enough for anyone to find.

Take the 1992 quotes about the “communist philanderer” Martin Luther King Jr. and his alleged “Hate Whitey Day”. Where have we heard this garbage before? Just months prior, in 1991, Lew Rockwell wrote an article in his own “Free Market” newsletter entitled “The Economics of Martin Luther King, Jr.”, which starts off with the sentence: “We’re supposed to venerate Martin Luther King, Jr., but that’s not easy for a believer in economic liberty.” The article goes on to excoriate King’s political beliefs, calling King a “Marxist,” saying King disliked the idea of entrepreneurship, and accusing King of intentionally pushing policies he knew would “create social conflict”.

In a May 1992 article in Rockwell’s “Free Market,” entitled “A New View of Civil Rights,” Rockwell continues this kind of language, saying that civil rights “have made us poorer and angrier,” and “must be junked.” During this time period, Rockwell also penned a pro-discrimination manifesto called “Repeal ‘64” (as in, the Civil Rights Act of 1964), in which Rockwell uses the kind of “black”-“white”, “us vs. them” collectivist thinking that Rep. Paul insists on avoiding. “White males,” says Rockwell, “are no longer fooled by the euphemisms.” Civil rights legislation, claims Rockwell, is about “denying economic opportunity to [white males] in order to benefit others.” Rockwell sounds positively David Duke-ian near the end of the article, when he proclaims “we also need to give up the notion of a ‘color-blind society’ – a goal as absurdly utopian as socialism itself.”

In a January 1992 article in Rockwell’s personal publication, in which Rockwell describes what he would do each day on his first 30 days as President, Rockwell gives curiously high priority to dismantling civil rights legislation, doing so on Days Eight and Nine.

In one of Rockwell’s more warped, pro-segregation rants in March, 1994, he fulminates over the small, Texan town of Vidor where four blacks had recently been chased out of town by hostile racists, and a new black family moving into town had to be escorted in by police. Rockwell was, of course, angry about the police escort for the blacks, not about the racist threat in the town.

Rockwell’s racist, twisted sense of justice was on display following the Rodney King beating, when he published in the Los Angeles Times an article with the title, “It’s Safe Streets Versus Urban Terror”, along with the repulsive, un-libertarian byline: “In the ‘50s, rampant crime didn’t exist because offenders feared what the police would do”. For any street criminal, Rockwell prescribes a police beating immediately after arrest, and another beating at the station. He also muses that perhaps video cameras should be banned in public, so that police can carry on these beatings undisturbed and without accountability. Rockwell’s comparisons of inner city troublemakers as “depraved infants” and “terrorists” would be perfectly valid, if the piece wasn’t in direct response to the Rodney King incident, with its obvious racial overtones. Rockwell does admit that the Rodney King beating was a tad excessive, but claims “that’s not the issue.” He writes that police beatings are “not a pleasant sight,” but equates such actions with “surgery” to remove “cancer.”

The style of writing and subject matter are undeniably similar to the racist articles peppering the newsletter that used Ron Paul’s name. Even if, by some unlikely coincidence, Rockwell was not actually the guilty ghostwriter for the Ron Paul newsletter, Rockwell has enough other unsavory work under his belt that deserves a full-throated apology.

Lew Rockwell needs to organize a televised press conference as soon as possible, take full responsibility for the racist, anti-libertarian content in the newsletters, apologize for, and fully repudiate them, and then completely disassociate and distance himself from venerable enterprises like the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the Ron Paul 2012 campaign, so as not to further tarnish these innocent parties. Rockwell, while claiming to be a fan of Ron Paul (though not a Ron Paul voter, because he considers voting to be “immoral”), has done more damage to Ron Paul’s presidential efforts than any other single person. Ron Paul has taken the heat and the responsibility for Mr. Rockwell long enough. Paul has apologized for and repudiated the newsletters, so why can’t Rockwell? I join countless other Paul supporters and lovers of the free market and individual liberty, in demanding that Rockwell come clean now and end his cowardly charade that threatens to damage the reputation of the congressman he claims to admire.

by @ 8:57 am. Filed under R4'12 Essential Reads, Ron Paul

December 20, 2011

Ron Paul for President

As a transplant to the state of Iowa, my support in the primaries carries a little more weight than the average voter’s. For that reason, I have taken my time to observe and evaluate the field of Republican candidates as the race has unfolded.

Early in the campaign, I wholeheartedly backed Tim Pawlenty, even casting my vote in the Ames Straw Poll for him. After his disappointing placement and subsequent exit, I didn’t know exactly where to go. Initially, I leaned toward Mitt Romney, enticed by his potential to expand the Republican Party’s electoral reach, regain the GOP’s historical perception as the party of competence, and train his laser-like focus on the economy. However, I held off on making anything formal, wanting to see how the race evolved and seeking to maintain as much objectivity as possible for as long as possible.

Rick Perry’s entrance made things a little more interesting, with his sensational campaign kickoff speech and famed ability to connect with voters on a personal level. However, my arms-length approach to the race proved rewarding once Perry encountered his debate struggles.

As the January 3rd Iowa deadline grew nearer and nearer, I found myself going back and forth between Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Ron Paul. Romney has many traits that appeal to me, in addition to those I’ve already mentioned. However, as recent events have suggested, Mitt may, quite simply, have a serious problem with establishing an emotional, visceral connection with voters. A concerning number of Republicans (and I have seen firsthand examples of this in Iowa) frankly do not trust him. They view him as lacking guiding principles and willing to say whatever it takes to win an election. Now, I do not agree with them, but when a candidate cannot win over the individuals who should embrace him with the greatest fervor, I begin to worry. After all, despite the assertion by many Romney supporters that he makes for a poor campaigner but a tremendous executive, a president’s campaigning never truly ends; in actuality, he becomes a permanent campaigner, constantly striving to marshal public support and political capital for his agenda. Romney’s struggles to increase his base of support beyond a solid 20%, or so, of the party bodes poorly for this consideration. Furthermore, the skills he has gained and utilized to great effect in the business world – and this also applies to his experience with the Olympic games and the Massachusetts Governor’s office – wouldn’t lend themselves as well to the presidency. After all, the president has less unilateral power over the federal bureaucracy and budget than, say, a CEO has over their company or a governor has over their state budget. A president’s role much more resembles Influencer-in-Chief, and they register their greatest successes when they can tap into and meld the public mood to suit their aims.

Huntsman’s diplomatic temperament, optimistic disposition, inclusive rhetoric, fantastic tax plan, and economically based foreign policy all tugged at my heartstrings. His nomination would go a long way toward remaking the GOP into a party of ideas, as opposed to identity politics. His positions on the issues do a phenomenal job of applying conservative principles to modern issues and sensibilities. And he would make substantial inroads into the emerging demographics Republicans must desperately win back if they hope to maintain long-term viability: young voters, the creative class, suburbanites, Hispanics, and Asians. Alas, his personality appears fundamentally out of step with the current mood of the GOP, and his campaign has pursued a perplexing strategy of attacking the party as a whole from the left and Mitt Romney alone from the right, leaving him a very narrow range of possible scenarios that would result in him winning the nomination. So, in short, I really like Gov. Huntsman, but it just doesn’t appear in the cards for him.

So, where does this leave me? No candidate in the field offers the total package of electability, emphasis of the issues that matter the most to me (the deficit/debt and the economy), and supreme political skills. Kind of disheartening, but that’s what happens when superstars like Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, and Bobby Jindal don’t run. Thus, the choice becomes akin to running the ball up the middle versus throwing it deep in a football game. With President Obama gearing up for a painfully negative campaign against Romney, the “safe” route may not prove so safe. That brings me to the candidate I voted for in the 2008 Illinois Primary, Dr. Paul.

Now, I realize that many within our community will disagree with this decision. And, to steal one of President Obama’s favorite phrases, let me be clear: I don’t agree with Paul on every issue. I don’t consider myself a dyed-in-the-wool non-interventionist like him. His lack of pragmatism concerns me. His dearth of legislative accomplishments troubles me. But in the end, he is my choice for both political and practical reasons.

The number one reason I back Paul is simple: more so than any of the other candidates, he understands the sheer magnitude of our debt problem. He understands that the growth in the U.S. economy in the last half-century, or so, has essentially mirrored the growth in public and private U.S. debt. He understands that instead of perpetuating our indebtedness and delaying the inevitable de-leveraging, we should pay down our obligations as soon as possible, while we still have some control. He has outlined the most serious, aggressive plan to address the issue, cutting $1 trillion of federal spending in the first year of a Paul administration and balancing the budget by the third, without relying on optimistic growth assumptions. And while the constraints of the political system would prevent him from enacting the entirety of his proposals, his strong initial negotiating position would likely result in more progress than any of the other candidates would achieve

Again, I do not agree with all of Dr. Paul’s foreign policy, but I’ve arrived at the understanding that America cannot hope for long-term fiscal solvency while maintaining our current military posture. We simply can’t afford it. In addition to the sheer hundreds of billions we spend on defense, the possibility of securing the massive cuts we need elsewhere in the federal budget plummets if Republicans assume the negotiating position of, “Absolutely no haircuts, period, for the Pentagon”. Furthermore, with our perilous fiscal situation, we simply cannot afford to provide security umbrellas for other nations and regions of the world. Our foreign policy needs a heavy dose of reality.

Although I abhor the tactics (and most of the aims) of Occupy Wall Street, they nonetheless represent the undeniable sense of anger and distrust many Americans harbor toward our major institutions. More than any other candidate, Ron Paul speaks to these frustrations, and he can offer these individuals hope for a president who finally “gets it”, “feels their pain”, and will advance reforms that can heal these wounds and ease the palpable friction and discord in our society.

No one can deny the enthusiasm Paul has generated among young voters. A party desperately searching for a means to win back these individuals should view him as a godsend. As studies have shown, party affiliation doesn’t tend to change once it gets established. According to some pundits, voting behavior solidifies after two presidential elections. The GOP made a horrible first impression on many young Americans in 2008. We lost them once. If we lose them in 2012, we could lose an entire generation.

As media outlets have begun to report, Paul draws considerable support from Independents and Democrats. Some on this site and elsewhere in the party tend to criticize candidates who receive favorable attention from these groups. My response is, why is this a problem? We should WELCOME people not formerly registered Republican into the tent. How else can we expect to grow the party ranks? We should view Paul’s crossover appeal as a colossal strength.

Last but not least, from a broader perspective, Ron Paul would re-orient the Republican Party to focus more on a philosophy of liberty, rather than an ideology that appears contradictory and incoherent to the average non-partisan voter. Paul’s inclusive message and approach could sound like music to the ears of the aforementioned creative class, the growing numbers of suburbanites, and even some urbanites.

Sure, some electability questions surround Paul. However, with his uniqueness and the unpredictable dynamics of this race, we shouldn’t place too much stock in the conventional political wisdom should he nab the nomination. In fact, a Paul-Obama match-up could fundamentally reshape the American political landscape, tossing much of what we think we know out the window, shattering assumptions, and forging new coalitions of support we never foresaw.

In the end, even if it resulted in him losing, a Paul nomination would afford him the chance to educate millions about the cause of liberty, shatter the pro-government Keynesian myths and theories propagated by Democrats and their allies in the media, and win untold numbers of converts to a philosophy of freedom, self-determination, and self-governance.

December 10, 2011

Newt and the Media: A Curious Marriage

Keach Hagey, of Politico, has written an eye-opening article about Newt Gingrich’s symbiotic relationship and history with the media. The article focuses primarily on Newt’s success in utilizing C-SPAN to advance his political pursuits but also extends to his general handling of the media:

“He has proven himself to be a very good debater in these presidential contests,” said Bob Walker, the former congressman who was one of Gingrich’s early comrades-in-arms and today advises Gingrich’s campaign. “I think at least part of it would go back to the days when he was debating on the House floor.”

Gingrich’s astute use of C-SPAN to project an energized and combative conservative caucus engaged in challenging the dominant Democratic majority – with him as its dynamic leader – showed an understanding of the political power of television and of messaging that was revolutionary for its day.

The cable network gave Gingrich both the conduit to reach a generation of conservative activists and a laboratory for figuring out how to dominate the news cycle — skills he has relied on in his debate performances this year and which will be crucial Saturday when Gingrich faces what’s likely to be a newly combative Mitt Romney at the ABC News/Des Moines Register debate in Iowa.

Behind his “elite media” bombast is a canny student of how to directly reach voters.

…But once he was speaker, Gingrich’s appetite for the kind of radical openness C-SPAN represented began to wane. Democrats accused him of “pulling up the ladder” that got him to where he was, and he rebuffed C-SPAN’s pleas for more access, as have the speakers that came after him.

But Gingrich’s appetite for media attention had not been curbed at all. As Ben Jones, the former “Dukes of Hazzard” star and Democratic congressman who ran against Gingrich in 1994 put it, “The most dangerous place in Washington, D.C .was to be standing between Newt Gingrich and a television camera. That’s probably been used by others at other times, but I said it first.”

That it has been used at so many other times to describe so many other lawmakers – it was being applied to Phil Gramm, then a Republican senator, back in 1994 when Jones was using it – is a testament to how fundamental the media is to wielding power in Washington. Gingrich was simply better at it than most.

“He understood that, if you compromised, there was no market value in that, in terms of going on television,” Clift said. “If you were bombastic and controversial, you were much more likely to be invited back.”

This information has numerous applications to the battle for the GOP nomination. While Newt’s detractors frequently point out his shortcomings and weaknesses – and, in all honesty, he has plenty – you can make the argument that Newt’s ability to massage and work the media to his advantage bears more relevance to the office of the President than do Romney’s undeniable skills as an executive and administrator. After all, the role of the President involves persuading, articulating, and influencing much more than, say, micromanaging the vast federal bureaucracy.

As many people have asserted recently and in years past, people tend to view as most effective the presidents with supreme powers of persuasion – Reagan, Lincoln, Kennedy, Truman, and both Roosevelts, to name a few – rather than those who governed more as administrators-in-chief – Bush 41, Ford, Carter, and Eisenhower for example.

I’m sure this will prompt much heated discussion and debate between the pro- and anti-Romney forces, but in the interests of intellectual honesty and the constraints of modern political reality, we ought to consider it.

by @ 2:32 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Newt Gingrich, R4'12 Essential Reads, Republican Party

November 28, 2011

The Changing Democratic Party

Yesterday, Thomas Edsall of the New York Times penned an absolutely vital report on the Democratic Party’s future political strategy. I strongly encourage everyone to read it in its entirety, but I present the highlights:

For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.

All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.

…The 2012 approach treats white voters without college degrees as an unattainable cohort. The Democratic goal with these voters is to keep Republican winning margins to manageable levels, in the 12 to 15 percent range, as opposed to the 30-point margin of 2010 — a level at which even solid wins among minorities and other constituencies are not enough to produce Democratic victories.

…For his part, [Stanley] Greenberg, a Democratic pollster and strategist and a key adviser to Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, wrote a memorandum earlier this month, together with James Carville, that makes no mention of the white working class. “Seizing the New Progressive Common Ground” describes instead a “new progressive coalition” made up of “young people, Hispanics, unmarried women, and affluent suburbanites.”

…The outline of this strategy for 2012 was captured by Times reporters Jackie Calmes and Mark Landler a few months ago in an article tellingly titled, “Obama Charts a New Route to Re-election.” Calmes and Landler describe how Obama’s re-election campaign plans to deal with the decline in white working class support in Rust Belt states by concentrating on states with high percentages of college educated voters, including Colorado, Virginia and New Hampshire.

There are plenty of critics of the tactical idea of dispensing with low-income whites, both among elected officials and party strategists. But Cliff Zukin, a professor of political science at Rutgers, puts the situation plainly. “My sense is that if the Democrats stopped fishing there, it is because there are no fish.”

…A top priority of the less affluent wing of today’s left alliance is the strengthening of the safety net, including health care, food stamps, infant nutrition and unemployment compensation. These voters generally take the brunt of recessions and are most in need of government assistance to survive. According to recent data from the Department of Agriculture, 45.8 million people, nearly 15 percent of the population, depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to meet their needs for food.

The better-off wing, in contrast, puts at the top of its political agenda a cluster of rights related to self-expression, the environment, demilitarization, and, importantly, freedom from repressive norms — governing both sexual behavior and women’s role in society — that are promoted by the conservative movement.

…The political repercussions of gathering minority strength remain unknown. Calculations based on exit poll and Census data suggest that the Democratic Party will become “majority minority” shortly after 2020.

One outcome could be a stronger party of the left in national and local elections. An alternate outcome could be exacerbated intra-party conflict between whites, blacks and Hispanics — populations frequently marked by diverging material interests. Black versus brown struggles are already emerging in contests over the distribution of political power, especially during a current redistricting of city council, state legislative and congressional seats in cities like Los Angeles and Chicago.

I had a few immediate reactions after reading this:

1. This could potentially spell big trouble for the Republican Party. It comes as no secret that the Democrats intend to strengthen their hold over many of the fastest-growing demographics in America. This renders it all the more important that the GOP re-focus its efforts to woo back young voters. If we do nothing, and the Democrats refine their pitch to these Americans, we risk losing an entire generation.

2. Thinking geographically, this would result in a Democratic Party even more concentrated on the coasts and in urban areas, with the GOP likely swooping in to the vast interior states. Carried out to the extreme, these dynamics could re-draw the electoral map so that we see states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and/or Wisconsin going red and Virginia, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, and/or Colorado going more solidly blue.

3. This does not appear to bode well for Mitt Romney, although this strategy may not have enough immediate impact to fundamentally change the 2012 race. Romney’s poll numbers typically increase with the respondents’ income levels, so a party base centered more on the lower end of the scale may not provide as much enthusiasm and fundraising dollars as he would like. Furthermore, Mitt’s potential to reel in suburbanites and more secular affluent types may get countered by the Dems’ full-court press for them.

4. This would play almost perfectly into Mike Huckabee’s hands if he had decided to run. It would have also come as good news to Sarah Palin, had she thrown in her hat.

So, now I ask our esteemed community, what thoughts do you have on this? Does anyone with political knowledge more encyclopedic than mine have any historical comparisons or examples to cite? And how can the GOP ensure long-term viability if the Democrats’ revamped strategy comes to fruition?

by @ 9:07 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Barack Obama, Democrats, R4'12 Essential Reads, Republican Party

November 20, 2011

Santorum Pushes New Economic Plan

Perhaps seeking to capture attention and enthusiasm similar to what Herman Cain received when he released his 9-9-9 Plan, Rick Santorum has produced a more comprehensive version of his economic proposals:

As some of his GOP rivals sell their plans with catchy names – such as Herman Cain’s “9-9-9″ plan or Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “Cut, Balance and Grow” – Santorum has simply titled his, “Made in America.”

…”This is the kind of plan that works. This is the kind of plan that makes sense,” Santorum added. “This is the kind of plan that will be able to transform America economically, will be able to revitalize our manufacturing sector and stop all the jobs going overseas and bring a lot of those jobs back and have ‘Made in America’ stamped on things again.”

Among the plan’s proposals: reducing the nation’s personal income tax rates to just two: 10% and 28%; eliminating both the Alternative Minimum Tax and the estate tax that conservatives deride as the “death tax;” dropping capital gains and dividend tax rates down to 12%; cutting corporate taxes from 35% to 17.5%; and eliminating corporate taxes for manufacturers.

Santorum also proposes a measure that many conservatives favor: passing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

…The candidate – who bests his GOP rivals by having visited all of the Hawkeye State’s 99 counties – told the crowd his plan “focused on some of the things that I’ve learned as I’ve traveled around Iowa.”

“One of the things I’ve learned is that most of the small towns in Iowa … there was some sort of manufacturing or processing facility that was the reason for the town to exist in the first place, or it was a railroad hub or some sort of center of commerce.”

…Any economic proposal, Santorum said, should not “focus all of our growth and energy on the big cities and service industries and financial services.”

As the article notes, Santorum has made an extremely hard push in Iowa, visiting all 99 counties and unabashedly touting his social conservative credentials in an effort to seize the as-yet-unclaimed evangelical vote. He has firmly staked his hopes on becoming the conservative alternative to Romney just in time for the Caucuses.

Now, Santorum’s brashness and strident crusader-like rhetoric provide legitimate cause for concern with respect to electability, but he deserves credit for becoming the only Republican candidate to regularly discuss income mobility and poverty from a conservative perspective. Furthermore, his laser-like focus on manufacturing strikes both political and economic gold, as America desperately needs to move away from a debt-financed, consumer- and financial services-driven economy and toward one centered more on wealth-creating sectors like manufacturing and energy.

by @ 1:38 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Iowa Caucuses, Iowa Watch, R4'12 Essential Reads, Rick Santorum

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