Kudos to President Obama For Touching the Third Rail

third_rail President Obama submitted a budget wildly out of balance that increases taxes across the board. But he also stuck his tongue on the infamous ‘third rail’ of American politics by proposing chained CPI for calculating Social Security cost of living increases. Bravo.

We’ve Been Asking For This

Economic conservatives have pointed out for years that America’s entitlement programs are bankrupting the country. The $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities can’t go on. Accounting gimmicks only get you so far.

I proposed a phase out of Social Security in The Conservative Manifesto  in 1993. Obama’s proposal isn’t even a step in that direction, but it’s still an acknowledgement by the most liberal president in US history that entitlements can continue to grow.

Republicans Can’t Oppose Chained CPI

Sure, the AARP and other far-left groups are crying an gnashing teeth over the proposal—that’s why they call it the ‘third rail.’ But Obama’s move is strategic. Republicans have to sign on or risk being seen as hypocrites.

Already, the Club for Growth slammed Rep. Greg Walden for Walden’s take-down of the chained CPI proposal. Walden’s comment about Obama’s “shocking attack on seniors” threatens to put the GOP into position as defenders of Social Security, guardians of the third rail. For my entire life and longer, defending Social Security against any reform has been the job of Democrats.

Millennials On The Hook

I heard someone say that Obama’s “turned his back” on the people who elected him. Poppycock. The people who elected Obama, especially in 2012, were Millennials—the folks born after 1982 who begin adulthood with an anvil over their heads—the weight of unfunded liabilities under Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Meanwhile, the AARP’s members voted overwhelming for Romney.

Obama’s mild revision to COLA indexing benefits his strongest demographic group, and the group I’m most interested in winning over. This will be their country soon and for a long time.

This Could De-Energize the Third Rail

Welfare reform was possible only because Bill Clinton was President and Newt Gingrich was Speaker. When one party controls White House, Senate, and House, that party actually tends to play it safe. Why? They have no one to blame if something goes wrong, and they’re more worried about holding onto what they’ve got than advancing the principles that got them there. See Tom DeLay.

But when power is split, both parties want to gain the office they lack. Or, in the case of presidents, they want to solidify their legacy. Both sides, then, are willing to take chances.

Once Clinton agreed to welfare reform and the GOP signed on, it was a sure thing. A certain number of Democrats were sure to go along because Clinton was their president. Republicans were certain go go along because it was an issue they’d championed for years. And it got done.

George Bush could not have touched the third rail, because Democrats and the media—and some Republicans—would have destroyed him. Look what happened when he pitched privatizing part of Social Security.

But Obama has flipped the switch on the third rail. If the Republicans jump on that one issue fast, they may be able to make Social Security reform a debatable issue instead of a suicide mission. This is their chance to advance a principle instead of covering their asses.

Let’s hope they take it.

How To Get More Twitter Followers

Unless you just want to vent, the reason you post things on Twitter is to influence people. But you can’t influence people who don’t see your tweets. The more people who see your tweets, the more influential you are. So you should increase your Twitter followers. twitter

How can you increase your followers?  Research at Georgia Tech gives you the answer.

Twitter Things To Do

Be Positive. Positive tweets are more likely to be retweeted and people who use positive words have more followers. Who wants to listen to people complain all day? Use the ideal positivity ratio of 3 positive tweets to every 1 negative.

Be Informative. People like useful information. Link to How To articles. Give useful tips, like “Order the Margharita Pizza at Stefano’s.”

Get Followed By People With Lots of Followers.  Network overlap is the number one driver of followers. If you know someone with lots of followers, ask them to follow you.

Fill Out Your Profile. Longer profiles earn more followers because people want to know about the people they follow. Link to your facebook page, to your blog, or to someplace where people can learn more about you. And tell people where you live, because we like people who are like us, even if they only share a name like ours.

Follow Back. When a real person with a picture and a profile follows you, follow them back. Reciprocity is the most powerful tool of persuasion, and it works on Twitter, too.

Twitter Things To Avoid

Avoid Negativity. Negative sentiment turns people off.

Avoid Hashtags. While hashtags help with SEO rankings, they turn people off. And never use a hashtag if you’re cross-posting to Facebook.

Avoid Broadcast Communications. People don’t check Twitter to read your ad.

You might say, “Great, Bill, but the country’s going to hell in a hand basket. Why shouldn’t I complain?  How else will we get people to pay attention?”

Most people know America is heading in the wrong direction. They don’t need more evidence; they need more answers.

Every bit of scientific evidence shows we’re attracted to positive things and we avoid negative things. Negative campaigning works by turning people away from the other candidate, but it also turns people off from the negative campaigner.

If you want to influence people and win your point, first they have to like you.

So here’s your super simple task for this week: post 3 positive tweets every day.  About anything.  “My kids are great!”  “Here’s some good news we can use [link].” If you want, you may add one negative or neutral post.

Do that for five days and see how many followers you gain.

BONUS: You will love this new information instantly, because it’s free!

Republicans Lose Because They Don’t Attract Enough Conservatives

For 20 years, the Battleground Poll of States (now the Politico/GW Battleground Poll) showed a freakish consistency about ideology.

2009: 59% Conservative

battleground-d3-2009

2012: 57% Conservative

battleground-d3-2012

 

With almost 60% calling themselves somewhat or very conservative, how could Barack Obama get re-elected? How could Republicans fail to gain the Senate in 2010 and 2012? Come to think of it, how do Democrats win at all?

The answer is simple: being conservative doesn’t make you Republican, but being Democrat makes you a liberal.

Look at responses to question d4:

battleground-d4-2012

Only 40 percent of respondents called themselves Republican (of some type), while 43 percent identify as Democrats.

Now, look again at ideology.  Thirty-seven percent identify as liberal. So Democrats would appear to win over all liberals, all “moderates” and at least half those who don’t know or refused to answer question d3.

Meanwhile, at least 30 percent of self-described conservatives do not identify with the Republican party.

When you look at voter turnout, it seems clear that what Republicans are missing is 30 percent of conservatives.  They just don’t vote.

Why?

Because the Republican Party isn’t conservative in their eyes. So they stay home or vote third party.

Becoming More Liberal Isn’t The Solution

We hear a lot of Republicans saying the GOP must become more liberal. The Battleground Poll seems to disagree. Instead, the GOP needs to become more consistent in its defense of freedom and its promotion of liberty.

That means:

  • Reducing the size and scope of the federal government
  • Ending the Republican love affair with crony capitalism
  • Flattening the tax code until we convert to a simple consumption tax
  • Eliminating income taxes eventually
  • Scaling back the war on drugs
  • Eliminating the Department of Education
  • Reducing foreign investments
  • Scaling back the power of the federal reserve

When libertarian and young voters look at Republicans, we see a party that worships government as much as the Democrats. Republicans are just as quick to hold Congressional hearings on issues that belong to the states alone. Republicans crave the power of committees and brag about bringing home pork to their districts and states.

As I demonstrated, young people can smell a scam more readily than older voters, and they smell one when the GOP talks about reducing government. Government grew under Bush and a Republican Congress. It grew under Reagan and a Republican Senate.

The only real rollback of government power came under Clinton and a Republican Congress with welfare reform.

Republicans Will Never Win Over The Middle

With 57 percent of voters calling themselves conservatives, the GOP has no need to win over the middle. Instead, they need to win over all 57 percent of conservatives.

Even you argue that those 57 percent are unequally distributed, you can’t argue that they all voted in 2012. If they had—and if they had all voted Republican—Romney would have captured a popular vote landslide. But he didn’t.

If the Republican Party were authentically pro-liberty, pro-freedom, and pro-people, it would wipe out the Democrats election after election. But its inconsistency has the GOP on the verge of extinction.

The Best Grilling Of Bernanke Came From Senator Elizabeth Warren And Republicans Should Be Ashamed

I agree with Republican Senator Corker that inflation is a danger in the future. But inflation doesn’t win the hearts and minds of most Americans right now. No one’s worried about it except economists and economics geeks.

The death of the community and regional bank, however, does bother people. As does the printing of money that goes straight into the 5 biggest banks in history . . . and stays there.

The US Government bailed out those 5 “too big to fail” banks in 2008 and it’s been propping them up with our money ever since. That was one of the driving forces behind the birth of the Tea Party movement in February 2009.

Four years later, the Fed, Congress, and the White House still support banks whose managers cannot operate at a profit. And the only Senator to point out the lunacy of this practice is a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts?

I realize that the Democrats are far worse practitioners of crony capitalism than the Republicans. That doesn’t excuse the GOP.

If the Republicans want people to see them as in-touch with the mood of the country, they should attack crony capitalism relentlessly. Republicans must advance sound macro economics, but they must also stress cases that win over voters. Future inflation won't do that, but crony capitalism will.

By failing to gage what messages will work, the GOP is in the odd position of standing for nothing while being perceived as too extreme.

Republicans Can't Just Rage Against The Fiscal Cliff Machine

Encouraging Boehner to shut down the government is the surest way to end conservatism as a practical political alternative. The GOP has no leverage in budget negotiations, and conservative denial won’t change that.

Use Game Theory

As I wrote on November 12, fighting Obama – voting down a budget in the House – results in the GOP’s worst possible outcome: total blame for anything that goes wrong and no credit for anything that goes right.

Obama’s not an idiot, and neither are the media. That’s why Obama proposed tax increases, executive power increases, and spending increases far beyond those previously proposed.

Obama holds all the cards.

Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Charles Krauthammer, Mark Lewis, and Ramesh Ponnuru all see it.

RushRepublicans should walk away from negotiations

NewtRepublicans should stop negotiating

The Hammer: Republicans should simply walk away

LewisRepublicans Are So Screwed

Ponnuru: No win situation

The cliché “elections have consequences” hasn’t gotten through some people’s heads. It will.

Expect Obama to get almost everything he demanded.

  • $1.6 Trillion tax hike—the largest in world history
  • Vast new powers for the president, including the power to raise the debt ceiling (or end the ceiling)
  • Big increases in social and construction spending
  • Effective elimination of the principle that the House originates tax and spend bills

In other words, it’s over. The Congress is going the way of the Reichstag—a formalized debate society that endorses the president’s dictates.

Fixing a problem requires, first, an honest understanding of the real situation. Passing a Republican budget in the House might make YOU feel good (“Yeah! Boehner. Way to stick it to the man!”), but it won’t change what happens:

  • Senate blocks
  • Obama goes on tour of 5 states hurt most by the fiscal cliff
  • Media runs 24/7 stories on the mounting “Republican Body Count” of Americans dying because Boehner drove the government train off the fiscal cliff
  • Panicked Republicans call on Boehner to pass the President’s tax cuts
  • House Republicans cave
  • Obama has a beer party
  • Obama’s power becomes effectively absolute.

If that’s what you want, then throw your temper tantrum and enjoy the consequences.

There Is Only One Option For House Republicans

Here’s the best strategy for Boehner to follow:

  • Walk away from the negotiations
  • Tell the president the House GOP will vote “Present”
  • Spend $2 billion over 2 years on marketing, networking, and advertising the dangers of doing what Obama just did
  • Focus on 2014

My solution might suck, but it’s what we, the people, voted for.

P.S. If you meet a “constitutionalist” or “conservative” who voted 3rd party, thank him for the worst-case scenario playing out before our eyes