Replacing the "old-school Republican mandate" with Whole Foods and Tea Party values

Lately, I'm frequently asked by Republican campaigns, party executives, consultants and think-tank leaders about how to connect better with Tea Party or libertarian voters.

Partying with Tea Party partiers

It's for good reason that Republican operatives want to connect with Tea Partiers.  After all, Rasmussen suggests that a generic Tea Party candidate is more popular than more traditional Republican candidates.

"Republican leaders should be embarrassed," notes conservative icon Richard Viguerie. "Instead, the Republican establishment disdains this populist uprising. Rather than embracing this genuine movement, establishment politicians and consultants are calculating how to co-opt, sideline, or even defeat the newest phenomenon in politics: tea partiers."

GOP leaders are now observing what conservative movement people have known for some time.

"The media are paying attention now," observes conservative movement writer Robert Stacy McCain. "They have no choice. Over the past nine months, hundreds of thousands of citizens have answered the Tea Party movement's call to direct involvement in politics. Their activism has ignited the spark that now threatens to incinerate the agenda of Hope and Change that once seemed impervious to conservative opposition."

The recent NY CD-23 race showed two things.  The Tea Party movement doesn't seem quite organized enough (yet) to actually win a major race, but we are clearly organized enough to knock out an establishment Republican candidate. 

The Crist-Rubio senatorial primary in Florida will probably serve as the major test between these two factions.  Alternately, one could look at the Alabama gubernatorial race  to see how the chips will fall when a much broader range of GOP candidates jump into the fray.

This Tea Party veteran would like to offer some quick advice to those trying to obtain the support of the Tea Party crowd:

 

  • Republicans are poised to make some electoral gains in 2010.  "The prevalence of the Tea Party movement does hold a cautionary note for the GOP -- if they win," blogged Pat Ruffini. "The danger is that Republicans will interpret a victory as a sign that all is well in the party, and that they can go back to their old ways pre-2008. In other words, they'll confuse a Teapublican victory for an old-school Republican mandate." I wholeheartedly concur.
  • A candidate, organization or political party has to earn the support of the Tea Party folks.  Mouthing recently rediscovered words of fiscal conservatism isn't enough.  Those who want Tea Party support will have to become a Tea Party personality or organization.
  • Michelle Malkin's sage advice: "Memo to GOP candidates: Do not call yourself the 'Tea Party backed candidate' if, in fact, Tea Party groups aren’t backing you."
  • Candidates with bad voting records (especially on issues like stimulus spending, Medicare Part D, etc.) can't simply make these records disappear.  For those guilty of expanding the size or indebtedness of government, a fresh bold idea might be to sincerely apologize for these votes and demonstrate some sort of plausible plan to change one's fiscal direction.
  • Don't (and I see this time and time again) offer the same old worn-out GOP platitudes about cutting taxes. Deficit spending is a big issue to Tea Party people and these folks are an understandably distrustful lot. Folks who promise tax cuts but either don't deliver or provide only minor tax relief while continuing to vote for deficit-busting legislation won't earn the support of the Tea Party crowd.

The verdict may still be out regarding whether the Tea Party movement has the organizational and leadership skills to consistently win elections.  However, one thing is already certain: We already know how to make a lot of noise.  Considering that a considerable portion of Tea Party organizers have ties to the Ron Paul movement, this should come as no surprise.

"The Tea Party Movement is determined to save America," wrote Vigeurie. "Republican Party leaders would be unwise to try to co-opt, sideline, or defeat it. Perhaps they should welcome the new leadership into the party as their single most promising survival tactic"

Those darned Whole Foods, South Park and Starbucks Republicans

Although the GOP ignored them (to their misfortune) in 2006 and 2008, there is a large and growing bloc of voters who are fiscally conservative but are turned off by some of the more extreme social conservatism (Internet gambling bans, Terri Schiavo case, etc.) associated with the Republican Party.  Like the Tea Party movement, there are a lot of Ron Paul supporters in this demographic group.

The Tea Party movement is, to a great degree, a populist one. This other group of potential Republican voters is more somewhat more elitist and certainly less socially conservative than many Tea Party folks. This younger and upwardly mobile crowd tends to be somewhat libertarian -- not to say that there aren't plenty of Tea Party libertarians.  The common tie between these two groups is one often ignored by the Republican establishment: consistent fiscal conservatism.

"Let the Democrats have the Starbucks set, goes the thinking [of some GOP leaders], and we'll grab working-class families," wrote Michael Petrilli in the Wall Street Journal while dubbing this second group of fiscally-conservative potential GOP voters "Whole Foods Republicans."

This Starbucks-drinking, South Park-watching and Whole Foods-shopping libertarian does not buy into this line of thinking.  Nor does Starbucks, as they've taken some not-so-sugary lumps from Jon Stewart over their decision to cobrand with self-described "conservative with libertarian leanings" Joe Scarborough.

The South Park Republicans of 2001 and 2002 became "South Park refugees" by 2006.  As these folks graduated from college, joined the work force, became married and started raising children, many of them have morphed into Whole Foods Republicans.

Here is Petrilli's suggestion:

What's needed is a full-fledged effort to cultivate "Whole Foods Republicans"—independent-minded voters who embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics. These highly-educated individuals appreciate diversity and would never tell racist or homophobic jokes; they like living in walkable urban environments; they believe in environmental stewardship, community service and a spirit of inclusion. And yes, many shop at Whole Foods, which has become a symbol of progressive affluence but is also a good example of the free enterprise system at work. (Not to mention that its founder is a well-known libertarian who took to these pages to excoriate ObamaCare as inimical to market principles.)

What makes these voters potential Republicans is that, lifestyle choices aside, they view big government with great suspicion. There's no law that someone who enjoys organic food, rides his bike to work, or wants a diverse school for his kids must also believe that the federal government should take over the health-care system or waste money on thousands of social programs with no evidence of effectiveness. Nor do highly educated people have to agree that a strong national defense is harmful to the cause of peace and international cooperation.

Petrilli expands his view a bit more:

Even more important is the party's message on divisive social issues. When some Republicans use homophobic language, express thinly disguised contempt toward immigrants, or ridicule heartfelt concerns for the environment, they affront the values of the educated class. And they lose votes they otherwise ought to win.

This sounds very similar to words Senator Jim DeMint's penned in the same newspaper:

To win back the trust of the American people, we must be a "big tent" party. But big tents need strong poles, and the strongest pole of our party -- the organizing principle and the crucial alternative to the Democrats -- must be freedom. The federal government is too big, takes too much of our money, and makes too many of our decisions. If Republicans can't agree on that, elections are the least of our problems. [...]

[...] Freedom will mean different things to different Republicans, but it can tether a diverse coalition to inalienable principles. Republicans can welcome a vigorous debate about legalized abortion or same-sex marriage; but we should be able to agree that social policies should be set through a democratic process, not by unelected judges. Our party benefits from national-security debates; but Republicans can start from the premise that the U.S. is an exceptional nation and force for good in history. We can argue about how to rein in the federal Leviathan; but we should agree that centralized government infringes on individual liberty and that problems are best solved by the people or the government closest to them.

"The races in Virginia and New Jersey show what can happen when the GOP sticks to its core economic message instead of playing wedge politics," noted Pertilli, reflecting my own observations. "Both Republican candidates won majorities of college-educated voters. Their approach attracted Sam's Club Republicans and Whole Foods Republicans alike."

The GOP could be eating Whole Foods cake at populist Tea Parties

Candidates who run on Ruffini's "old-school Republican mandate" may win in 2010, but their base will certainly be strengthened by adding one or both of the aforementioned demographic groups.  A candidate who can appeal to more traditional Republicans, the Tea Party crowd and Whole Foods Republicans could create a mandate not seen since 2004 or the Reagan years.

Smart leadership at the helm of the USS Republican would be steering the ship with the current in the direction of Wholefoods Republicans and Tea Party conservatives.  The ship wouldn't even have to be powered at full steam, as Obama, Reid and Pelosi seem to be determined to provide plenty of wind for both of these movements. By disregarding the rocks of big-government conservatism, fighting the libertarian current, or ignoring the wind provided by the Democratic overreach, Republican leaders could be poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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I agree.

You get to win an election or put the fags in their place. Pick one.

I've noted before that there's two possibilities before the Republican Party. If the party believes its own rhetoric -- that the Republic itself is crumbling from these fiscal policies -- wouldn't they start building a coalition and jettisoning the parts of their platform irrelevant to the threat?

I mean, the alternative would be that they don't believe their own rhetoric, and are therefore doubling-down for their own supporters and are mouthing the words they hope will bring them power.

Want the libertarians? Make with the liberty.

(I won't bother replying to any posts helpfully explaining, again, that I want the wrong kind of liberty. Arguments about money I have to have with Democrats are easier to win than arguments about Jesus I have to have with Republicans.)

What about the knownothingness of the movement?

Is a WholeFoods Republican really going to be happy making common cause with people who proudly wave signs saying "keep the Government out of my Medicare", "Obama = Hitler AND Stalin AND Mao", and "abolish all taxes"?

You know nothing

All things are possible

It was during CPAC 2008 that Mitt Romney suspended his presidential race.  When he did, the Romney crew turned their already-paid-for booth over to the Ron Paul crew.

While all Romney suporters couldn't be classified as Wholefoods Republicans and all Ron Paul supporters weren't as radical as the ones often depicted on television, mixing a few apples and oranges illustrate how well these two groups of people can work together.

a fresh bold idea might be to

a fresh bold idea might be to sincerely apologize for these votes and demonstrate some sort of plausible plan to change one's fiscal direction.

I'll not believe any politician, GOP or otherwise, who is spouting about cutting spending unless the who, what, where, when and how are detailed.  The GOP has coasted for the past 20 years on a reputation of being fiscally conservative, with no actual fiscal conservatism anywhere in sight. 

To truly reduce the size of the federal government, serious and unpopular changes would be needed.  There is no way to measurably reduce the federal budget and exempt Social Security, Medicare and the military from meaningful cuts and reforms.  It's just not possible.  Any fool (like John McCain) who claims that is possible is lying or delusional, or both.

BTW, I'd avoid quoting Robert Stacy McCain if you're serious about promoting outreach to younger, educated, libertarian-leaning voters.  Quoting a noted white supremacist in an article promoting the idea of attracting Whole Foods Republicans (are there such animals?) tends to damage the effectiveness of your message.

Agree and disagree

I'll not believe any politician, GOP or otherwise, who is spouting about cutting spending unless the who, what, where, when and how are detailed.  The GOP has coasted for the past 20 years on a reputation of being fiscally conservative, with no actual fiscal conservatism anywhere in sight.

Well, there are some good guys out there who have a well-deserved reputation for voting against spending.  There's a bit of a continuum in between them and the big-honkin'-spenders who don't mind blowing billions of dollars as long as their constitutents benefit and give the credit to the Congressman.

But yeah, overall they're not nearly fiscally conservative enough to actually shrink the government even when they do have power.

To truly reduce the size of the federal government, serious and unpopular changes would be needed.  There is no way to measurably reduce the federal budget and exempt Social Security, Medicare and the military from meaningful cuts and reforms.  It's just not possible.  Any fool (like John McCain) who claims that is possible is lying or delusional, or both.

Well, "measurable" is an exaggeration.  You start adding up the billions of dollars in federal departments and programs that could be heavily cut back or eliminated, and you end up with a huge number.  But they're as bulletproof as most military and entitlement spending.  Every program has its patrons on the Hill, and a dependent constituency, and often a union.

But it's true that the old "waste, fraud and abuse" talk needs to go.  We need big reforms, which will inevitably run into some fierce opposition.

I would point out, though, that Republicans did try to reform Social Security at the height of their power in 2005.  The Democrats immediately forced it to party-line trench warfare and scared up the seniors, who wouldn't have lost any benefits. The Republicans lost (and never regained) their legislative initiative -- and then they got crushed in the 2006 elections.

If they couldn't reform SocSec, there wasn't any hope of reforming the much bigger problem of Medicare/Medicaid, and there wasn't a chance that we were going to see military cuts in wartime.

BTW, I'd avoid quoting Robert Stacy McCain if you're serious about promoting outreach to younger, educated, libertarian-leaning voters.  Quoting a noted white supremacist in an article promoting the idea of attracting Whole Foods Republicans (are there such animals?) tends to damage the effectiveness of your message.

"Noted white supremacist"?  Isn't that the kind of claim that's usually accompanied by some evidence?

And yes, there are Whole Foods Republicans.  Not just the ones who showed up for the "buycott" either.

  I would point out, though,

 

I would point out, though, that Republicans did try to reform Social Security at the height of their power in 2005.  The Democrats immediately forced it to party-line trench warfare and scared up the seniors, who wouldn't have lost any benefits. The Republicans lost (and never regained) their legislative initiative -- and then they got crushed in the 2006 elections.

 

If they couldn't reform SocSec, there wasn't any hope of reforming the much bigger problem of Medicare/Medicaid, and there wasn't a chance that we were going to see military cuts in wartime. 

 

It is my understanding that it would have cost some 2 trillion dollars for the transition of Social Security to a privatized fund. The other argument or maybe the same argument, is that those left in Social Security would end up with a welfare program and probably would need taxpayer support.

The Bush administration added to Medicare with their Part D and it is estimated to cost 1.2 trillion dollars in 10 years. [Jacob Weisberg, Page 30 Newsweek, December 21,2009]

Re:

It is my understanding that it would have cost some 2 trillion dollars for the transition of Social Security to a privatized fund.

There was never a specific plan, but IIRC, there was some study of President Bush's outline for reform that estimated that a transition would cost $2 trillion over time.  But that would have been more than offset by reductions in the growth of future retiree benefits (some $10 trillion, IIRC).

The other argument or maybe the same argument, is that those left in Social Security would end up with a welfare program and probably would need taxpayer support.

You mean, people in Social Security, losing benefits, would require additional assistance?  Well, under President Bush's outline, current beneficiaries and people close to retirement wouldn't lose any of their benefits.  Later retirees would see a slower growth in their direct benefits, but would also be able to put some of their money into the market.  That's how I understood the proposal.

The Bush administration added to Medicare with their Part D and it is estimated to cost 1.2 trillion dollars in 10 years.

I've heard much lower figures (like one third of that figure), so I'd be interested to hear specifics.  No matter what the final figure is, though, I and a lot of fiscal conservatives didn't like it.

  But that would have been

  But that would have been more than offset by reductions in the growth of future retiree benefits (some $10 trillion, IIRC).

So, are you saying people should have less to live on? Social Security can be fixed by tinkering with the numbers. It is Medicare that is the real problem.

It would also help to fix the structural unemployment problems in this country, so that more people feed into the system.

 

You mean, people in Social Security, losing benefits, would require additional assistance?  Well, under President Bush's outline, current beneficiaries and people close to retirement wouldn't lose any of their benefits.  Later retirees would see a slower growth in their direct benefits, but would also be able to put some of their money into the market.  That's how I understood the proposal.

To make Social Security work, you need everyone inclusive. There would be no doubt that the more wealthier people would go to a private plan, leaving those with less incomes dependent on Social Security. If the wealthy would bail out, it would be hard to sustain Social Security with just those of lower income. 

After seeing the stock market crash, a lot of people could not take the risk involve and the country also. To see so many people affected with a downturn would be unbearable. We just went through a rough recession and people have lost their savings and homes. Putting more risk on the individual or even a mass of people, could have devastating effects. 

I understand the arguments of a higher return, but there is a price on that too. And I know the element of risk and am willing to risk a lot. I have lost money in the six figures over this recession, I am making some of it back with a 400% return since April. But this is what I am willing to do. Most people cannot take such ups and downs, not even 10% or 20% of their money. I can count on Social Security in a couple of years. I know it will be there, if the country ever wakes up and fixes our problems. So far, neither party wants to fix our problems. 

They can start by not taking money out of the trust fund and getting more people employed and fixing the country. 

Re:

  But that would have been more than offset by reductions in the growth of future retiree benefits (some $10 trillion, IIRC).

So, are you saying people should have less to live on?

Lower direct benefits than they were promised?  Yes.  They were promised benefits that would rise faster than inflation.

I'll repeat for clarity: President Bush didn't propose cutting the actual benefits, just the growth in those benefits.

Social Security can be fixed by tinkering with the numbers. It is Medicare that is the real problem.

Well, Medicare is a bigger problem, true.  "Tinkering with the numbers" with Social Security is easier said than done, but I think reducing the growth in benefits and progressively pushing back the age of eligibility would be good -- the sooner the better.  Seems there aren't nearly enough Democrats who will stand for that.

To make Social Security work, you need everyone inclusive. There would be no doubt that the more wealthier people would go to a private plan, leaving those with less incomes dependent on Social Security. If the wealthy would bail out, it would be hard to sustain Social Security with just those of lower income.

This doesn't sound like any proposal the Republicans have put forward.  What do you think President Bush was proposing, exactly?

After seeing the stock market crash, a lot of people could not take the risk involve and the country also. To see so many people affected with a downturn would be unbearable. We just went through a rough recession and people have lost their savings and homes. Putting more risk on the individual or even a mass of people, could have devastating effects.

First of all, no current Social Security beneficiaries would have seen their benefits affected by this stock market downturn.  Their benefits were guaranteed.

Second, we are already putting more risk on individuals and masses of people, by forcing them to buy the worst assets on the market -- that is, the government has bought those bad assets with their tax dollars.  The fact that the risk hits them in the form of higher future taxes rather than in the form of devalued assets doesn't mean they're any less affected as individuals or groups.

Third, we're already seeing "so many people affected with a downturn."  It's extremely unpleasant, but it's bearable.

I understand the arguments of a higher return, but there is a price on that too. And I know the element of risk and am willing to risk a lot. I have lost money in the six figures over this recession, I am making some of it back with a 400% return since April. But this is what I am willing to do. Most people cannot take such ups and downs, not even 10% or 20% of their money.

Why not let those people determine how much they're willing to risk?  Denying them that choice is pretty paternalistic, is it not?

So far, neither party wants to fix our problems.

The Republicans had a proposal for Social Security; they got shot down.  Republicans have their proposals for health care, too, but they didn't want to take the risks while they controlled Congress, and the Democrats won't allow them to be considered now.

But both parties have been generally risk-averse about tackling these big issues until they have an extremely strong political position.  They don't want to lock in a compromised or watered-down long-term solution, so they both waited until they had large majorities in Congress and the White House before they put forward their proposals.

They can start by not taking money out of the trust fund and getting more people employed and fixing the country.

The trust fund is a bunch of IOUs.  They are promises to tax or borrow money in the future.  There's no money to take out of the trust fund.

Getting more people employed?  Sure.  I probably have different ideas about how to do that than you do...

 From what I know about the

 From what I know about the Bush privatized Social Security is that he would have allowed all those that wanted to be in a privatized savings program and leaving those left on Social Security in that program. In other words, one program for the rich and the other for the poor. That is the way I take it. In any case, we have heard all this mumbo jumbo before. And it is right wing think tanks that are in Washington and on Wall Street (the ones that benefit most) that spread this crap around. These are the same people that said this is going to be an information society and we don't need manufacturing. Well, the joke is on the middle class in this country. 

And it is best to have a mixture of government functions and non government functions. Too much on either side is too much of a risk. There just has to be fiscal discipline.

The trust fund is a bunch of IOUs.  They are promises to tax or borrow money in the future.  There's no money to take out of the trust fund.

Social Security creates a surplus and will do that till the year 2017, I believe. Each president since Reagan has been taking money out of the Social Security fund to lower our deficit and that needs to stop. I do not follow political right wing hype. Social Security needs fixing yes. But to say there is a better way, their way, is just hype. 

Getting more people employed? Here is my view.

Trapped in a corner

Re:

From what I know about the Bush privatized Social Security is that he would have allowed all those that wanted to be in a privatized savings program and leaving those left on Social Security in that program. In other words, one program for the rich and the other for the poor.

That's not what Bush proposed.  Bush proposed that people -- both rich and poor -- would be able to divert a part of their payroll taxes to a private account.  They could contribute up to a third of the 12.4% payroll tax that they and their employers pay toward SocSec, with a cap on the total dollar amount you can contribute per year.

The $2 trillion figure assumed that everyone diverted the maximum amount to a private account (which wouldn't happen) and that we wouldn't ease into the transition (as Bush proposed, with a gradually rising cap and younger workers not able to divert to a private account in the first year or two).

No one would leave the Social Security program, and they'd even still be receiving scheduled benefits, with a subtraction based on how much they diverted to their private accounts.

There's no reason the poor couldn't participate; in fact, one of the perceived political benefits for Republicans was that even the poor would become part of the "investor class" that skewed significantly towards Republicans during the early Bush years.

And it is best to have a mixture of government functions and non government functions. Too much on either side is too much of a risk.

What do you mean by "too much of a risk"?  What's at risk?  Why don't we all just trust people to manage their own risk?  Some will fail and it will be hard on them, but that's part of being an adult.

In the context of SocSec, allowing people to divert part of their mandated payroll tax to private accounts means that they get a fairly small amount of choice about how much risk to take with their own future benefits.  They would have only had a handful of options about which centrally administered plan to join, and then there would have been automatic safeguards to reduce the amount of risk that people took as they approached retirement.  It's like bowling with bumpers.

The trust fund is a bunch of IOUs.  They are promises to tax or borrow money in the future.  There's no money to take out of the trust fund.

Social Security creates a surplus and will do that till the year 2017, I believe. Each president since Reagan has been taking money out of the Social Security fund to lower our deficit and that needs to stop.

Those surpluses were projected before this recession.  I think that this year we already have a Social Security deficit (more paid in benefits than collected in payroll taxes).  The CBO estimated back in the spring that the income taxes collected on SocSec benefits were the only thing that would keep it from being a drag on the general fund too, just barely.

Since then, the employment picture has been worse than projected, so I'd feel confident guessing that the SocSec system is a drag on the full federal budget now.

After this year, there will be a few more years of projected deficits, and then it might have a few years of surplus before it goes into the red for good in 2016.

Either way, the trust fund is still a bunch of IOUs (Treasury securities).  And there's no way that any government is going to increase taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars a year to make the trust fund into a depository of cash instead of a pile of IOUs.

 I stand corrected, you are

 I stand corrected, you are right. Only a certain portion would be privatized. But there are anti privatization arguments. For instance, 1. If you take so much money out of social security for privatization then that is less money for Social Security. There are projections of trillions of dollars to keep Social Security afloat even with privatization. 2. The privatization portion would still be at risk and if that is down and you have to rely on Social Security, then you will receive less money. 3. This is a windfall for Wall Street.

The fact remains is that a low income earner would not have that much to invest. It would be more beneficial to someone who make more money. More money to invest is more money made or lost. 

Once this is started then the corporations will be campaigning to get rid of Social Security. They are already moving our jobs overseas, cutting wages to compete with third world countries, and cutting or eliminating healthcare and pension benefits. 

Everything will be up to the individual. And we have seen this over 8 years. It was tax cuts and nothing else. You are on your own. Cities and states with factories closed and loss of jobs are on their own. Washington will have no more responsibility accept to take our tax money for wars or whatever else. We saw the laissez-faire and it is wrecking the country. 

Re:

1. If you take so much money out of social security for privatization then that is less money for Social Security. There are projections of trillions of dollars to keep Social Security afloat even with privatization.

Let's be clear with our terms here: some of the money that workers pay in taxes would go into a private account managed by the federal government instead of going into the trust fund (where it would be spent by Congress) or directly to current retirees.

So it's true that privatization would cut down on the money available for current transfers.  That's supposed to be offset by cutting the growth of benefits, and I'd progressively push back the eligibility age as well.

2. The privatization portion would still be at risk and if that is down and you have to rely on Social Security, then you will receive less money.

This is true.  If you choose to put money in a private account, you are putting that money at some risk.  You have to choose a centrally managed plan, though, which would basically be like the federal employees' 401(k) plan.  It's not terribly risky.

As you approach retirement (like age 47), there was going to be an automatic switch to a lower-risk path, unless you specifically opted out of it.

But yes, some people may indeed get burned by that risk, if they choose to take it.

3. This is a windfall for Wall Street.

I trust corporations to grow wealth more than I trust the federal government to do so.

The fact remains is that a low income earner would not have that much to invest. It would be more beneficial to someone who make more money. More money to invest is more money made or lost.

First of all, one third of your total payroll taxes is 4.13% of your gross pay.  Even at fairly low lifetime wage curves, that's a decent amount of money.

Second, how does it matter that they have less to invest than people with higher incomes?  People who pay higher payroll taxes already get higher SocSec benefits.  Privatization wouldn't change that.

Once this is started then the corporations will be campaigning to get rid of Social Security. They are already moving our jobs overseas, cutting wages to compete with third world countries, and cutting or eliminating healthcare and pension benefits.

First, why would privatization cause corporations to campaign to get rid of SocSec?

Second, "they" aren't moving "our jobs" overseas.  We want cheaper goods and services, and businesses compete to provide them.  If the American worker can't provide the best mix of quality and cost for the consumer, then businesses must go to those who can.

Third, part of the reason those low-skilled jobs are going overseas is because American businesses are prohibited from cutting compensation to compete with third-world countries.  We have the minimum wage, labor regulations, unions with coercive power that go beyond mere collective bargaining, and health care regulations that increase costs across the board.  The American worker has a lot of competitive advantages, but his government prevents him from taking full advantage of them because the government thinks it knows what's good for him.

Everything will be up to the individual. And we have seen this over 8 years. It was tax cuts and nothing else. You are on your own. Cities and states with factories closed and loss of jobs are on their own. Washington will have no more responsibility accept to take our tax money for wars or whatever else. We saw the laissez-faire and it is wrecking the country.

Take it from a libertarian: we're a long, long way from laissez-faire.  We haven't seen anything close to laissez-faire in the US since the late 19th, early 20th century.  We are regulated, litigated, taxed and subsidized from conception til burial.

The last 8 years didn't change that.  Bush cut marginal income tax rates, but he increased spending.  He increased the size and powers of the federal government.  He tried tariffs to protect the steel industry.  He dumped hundreds of billions into a Medicare expansion.  He didn't touch his veto pen for years, allowing pork-laden bills to sail through on everything from energy to transportation to agriculture.  We saw more financial regulation, not less.  And the federal government's interventions in the housing industry only grew larger and larger until the bubble popped.

And in the end, Washington (under both Bush and Obama) took responsibility for the auto industry, the banks, state and local governments, and more: the feds bailed them out at enormous taxpayer expense.

So whatever problems we have, they aren't the result of some sweeping reduction in government interference in the economy.

That said, I think that in the fairly near future, the basic facts of economics and strategy will require less government management of the economy, less state welfare, and more responsibility placed on the individual and family.  I think that it's quickly becoming apparent how unaffordable and clumsy big government is. 

I imagine there will still be some kinds of safety nets, but this is, in my opinion, the last gasp of the welfare state.  It is straining at the collar of reality.

With respect to cutting Social Security, etc.

I do think programs, especially of the social safety net variety, can be cut.  However, a lot of education from think tanks, conservative and libertarian media, etc. will have to be done first to protect the legislators making the cuts.

Bryan, I'm pressed for time

Bryan, I'm pressed for time now but will take time later to respond to your points on the federal budget and entitlements.

I wanted to quickly acknowledge now that you made a fair point about my lack of links to substantiate my comment about Robert Stacy McCain.  Probably the best round-up that I'm familiar with is this at LGF:  http://littlegreenfootballs.com/tag/Robert+Stacy+McCain  Numerous items listed there that document his white supremacist ties, sympathies and writings. 

I'm tired of so-called 'conservatives' like R.S. McCain being given any kind of reputable platform to spew their bile.  He is not a conservative; he is a radical extremist and I will continue to alert people who are serious about presenting a truly conservative alternative how damaging it is to associate themselves and their message with extremists like him.

A poor characterization.

I would point out, though, that Republicans did try to reform Social Security at the height of their power in 2005.  The Democrats immediately forced it to party-line trench warfare and scared up the seniors, who wouldn't have lost any benefits.

 

There is a long list of Republicans that voiced their opinion against Bush's social security reform efforts.

So to say that it was a "party-line trench warfare" would be an inaccurate description.

Perhaps.

It's not a perfect metaphor, but the Democrats held together, dug in early and tried to pick off the Republicans closest to their line.  But perhaps my description was a bit inaccurate, since there were always some soft Republicans.

Still, in the current health care debate, which is not going perfectly according to party lines, but is pretty close, couldn't the Republicans put together a similar list of quotes from Democrats?

re: list of quotes from Dems...

Sure.

One could absolutely put a long list of Dems opposing elements of Obama's HC reform plans.

So, if Obama cannot get his HC reforms passed, it would be a myth to lay blame on Republican obstructionism.  Just as it is a myth to claim the lack of Bush's SS reforms on Democratic obstructionism.

 

I like the fact that you hold feet to fire regarding the Republicans and their lack of fiscal discipline; not everyone here is willing to do that.  But take care not to give credit where credit isn't due.

 

Cheers.

I think you're mostly right.

We can't lay blame exclusively on the opposition party in each case, but in both cases, keeping their party lines solid denied their opponents any real bipartisan cover.  That tends to exacerbate intra-party divisions, since the "moderates" have to own the issue as members of a party trying to ram through a bill over the opposition.

One slight difference between the two situations: back in 2005, Bush needed some Democrats aboard.  Perhaps you would remember better than I: did reform even have majority support in both houses of Congress?  Clearly it didn't have 60 in the Senate.

Roots

 

I love roots. Seeing the beginning of something that becomes a conflict helps me understand the whole tree, so to speak. For example, Obama said the interests of the community are more important than are individual interests. That is a root! That tells us individual interests conflict with community interests in some way. Now, we know community has no brain or heart, so someone must decide what is in the interest of community. In our case, that would be elite like Obama, Pelosi and Reid, and their immediate helpers. Then, the opposite is individual freedom to make decisions, which worked well in America resulting in a free market. But, that means too many uninformed, unintelligent individuals. Those in the ranks of the elite few who expect to rule look on the many in community as stupid, unable to foresee future events and solve problems at hand. They feel their calling is to make sure individuals do not decide what it right or wrong for them, their families and communities closest to them. Whenever you see one of those elite being interviewed and worshipped by interviewers, you hear them make statements that sound arrogant and demeaning to the average man and woman. In addition, you see the same arrogance in media and academia, which is where the elite in government come from. The private sector is made up more of non-elite and small business folks, who are seen as having no intelligence. Hear what they say, then measure it against this root. Claysamerica.com

 

 You could say the same

 You could say the same things about republicans. Have you written a book on their ignorance and arrogance? We are not in a world by ourselves. We see Washington as ineffective and cannot fix problems from either party. You talk of freedom and I see a middle class losing its standard of living as we have not recognized globalization. 

Then, the opposite is individual freedom to make decisions, which worked well in America resulting in a free market.

The problem is I don't see a free market when other countries of cheap labor keep taking more of our livelihood. Maybe you can explain how we are supposed to deal with this new world of reducing our standard of living. Or doing the things to increase our standard of living, jobs, and competing with the rest of the world of 2 to 3 billion cheap laborers. 

And even in our own country, it is just one company taking the territory of another. How many businesses do the same thing on the same block? Something has to give, usually it is the closing of a facility and people losing jobs. 

On the other hand at this time in history in China, there is room for growth. There is room to build 10 dealerships on a block or many pizza places as the demand requires it with so many people. 

Re: The Original Post

Stephen Gordon:

The recent NY CD-23 race showed two things.  The Tea Party movement doesn't seem quite organized enough (yet) to actually win a major race, but we are clearly organized enough to knock out an establishment Republican candidate.

I'd be careful about drawing lessons too readily from NY-23.  There were entirely too many special circumstances:

  • It was a special election in an off-year (not even midterms), meaning all sides were able to attract national attention to one district.
  • We had a well-organized third party, which we don't have in most places in the country.
  • We had a particularly bad Republican candidate who had been thinking about joining the Democrats 2 years before the election, and a Democrat who was anything but inspiring to their base.
  • The Republican was splitting the union support in the district, then dropped out only days ahead of the race and threw all that support behind the Democrat.
  • And there's more I won't talk about for now.

If Scozzafava had stayed in the race or dropped out a few days earlier, or there was a bit more time before the election (again, a matter of days), I think we absolutely could have won that race.  It wouldn't have been the Tea Party people alone doing it, but they could have helped put him over the top.

On a related note...

"The races in Virginia and New Jersey show what can happen when the GOP sticks to its core economic message instead of playing wedge politics," noted Pertilli, reflecting my own observations.

Hoffman stuck pretty closely to the core economic message too.  It was his opponents and the sympathetic media who played wedge politics, insisting that the only real difference between him and Scozzafava was that he was socially conservative.  Only in the final days of the race did the compliant media even start mentioning Soccafava's "ties to labor" as another difference between them.

Meanwhile, Hoffman was constantly hammering on economic issues.  Some of his supporters publicly asked him, a couple weeks before the election, to start highlighting his social views in that heavily Catholic (and other Christian) district, and he explained to them that he had been focused on economic issues and freedom.

A candidate, organization or political party has to earn the support of the Tea Party folks.  Mouthing recently rediscovered words of fiscal conservatism isn't enough.  Those who want Tea Party support will have to become a Tea Party personality or organization.

The Tea Party folks, in turn, are going to have to go all out to promote the real economic conservatives in the ranks.  That means getting involved in the party, not just voting in general elections or sending money.  I'm talking about taking over local party organizations at the precinct level and working your way up.

As far as organizations go, Tea Party activists may put pressure on existing organizations to clean up their act (instead of being rackets or vehicles for particular personalities), or build their own institutions.

Candidates with bad voting records (especially on issues like stimulus spending, Medicare Part D, etc.) can't simply make these records disappear.  For those guilty of expanding the size or indebtedness of government, a fresh bold idea might be to sincerely apologize for these votes and demonstrate some sort of plausible plan to change one's fiscal direction.

I predict that the last part -- the plausible plan -- is not going to be forthcoming from such candidates.  I'd love to be proven wrong.

Don't (and I see this time and time again) offer the same old worn-out GOP platitudes about cutting taxes. Deficit spending is a big issue to Tea Party people and these folks are an understandably distrustful lot. Folks who promise tax cuts but either don't deliver or provide only minor tax relief while continuing to vote for deficit-busting legislation won't earn the support of the Tea Party crowd.

One hopes the Tea Party crowd is this disciplined.  Some guidelines I would propose for the discerning activist:

  • Tax cuts are easy and popular. They should not be passed in the expectation that they will force prudent spending cuts, because history shows otherwise.  Tax cuts that create deficits just lead to accounting tricks, panic borrowing (in bad markets) and crisis cuts (Lefties perform the most painful cuts first and blame fiscal conservatives for forcing their hand).
  • Tax cuts should be broad, not targeted (tax credits, waivers, etc.).  Finely targeted tax cuts are basically subsidies.  And they're inefficient ways of spurring economic growth.
  • Tax cuts should not be passed if they will require more destructive taxes later.
  • Not all tax cuts result in higher revenues.  There is a left side to the Laffer curve.
  • So focus on spending cuts, and making your overall mix of taxes and deficits less destructive.

 Perhaps more on this later...

Re: your comments

I'd be careful about drawing lessons too readily from NY-23.  There were entirely too many special circumstances:

I totally agree. But the Tea Party support certainly made a big difference.  I've not seen Tea Party folks being large or organized enough to win outright - but they are clearly a force to be reckoned with.

Hoffman stuck pretty closely to the core economic message too.  It was his opponents and the sympathetic media who played wedge politics, insisting that the only real difference between him and Scozzafava was that he was socially conservative.

I heard (from friends who went up to New York) that Hoffman's fiscal message was sound, but that he spent far too much time on social issues. I wasn't there, though, so I'll have to take your word on it.

The Tea Party folks, in turn, are going to have to go all out to promote the real economic conservatives in the ranks.  That means getting involved in the party, not just voting in general elections or sending money.  I'm talking about taking over local party organizations at the precinct level and working your way up.

I totally agree. It works both ways, though.

I'd love to be proven wrong.

Me, too. However, my firm has advised (and I've worked with another major candidate on a very similar issue) a couple of politicians about how to do just this.

Bryan, if you can figure out how to convince DC politicians (of any party) to actually cut spending, the entire nation will be in your debt.

 

Most party elites, especially

Most party elites, especially those that are so consumed with winning invites to the costal cocktail circuits, misunderstand the South Park/Whole Foods Conservative mindset.  Particularly those that are so worked up about social conservatives, and their supposed influence.  Mike Huckabee was a nightmare not because of his social conservatism, rather his statist moralising and populist economic agenda.  Sarah Palin, on the other hand, had the fiscal conservatism dialed in, and consequently, her social POV was far less worrisome.

In fact, the GOP could do well corralling the passion, and desires, of the Tea Party movement.  If only they would stop listening to the inside the beltway consultants and campaign managers who are more concerned with showing well on the Sunday talk shows.  Accountable and rational government is what we want most.  We dislike the irrational, irrespective from what quarter it comes, and have shown far more than our leftist citizens, a willingness to toss out our own corruption. 

Any figure wanting to limit carbon emmissions had better promote proven alternatives such as nuclear and hydroelectric - sure, continue the investments into wind, solar, and the other esoteric ideas - but dont be the idiotic idealist that populates the AGW church.  Any figure wanting to reform the health care industry had better have tort reform, cross-state access, and easing HSA restrictions before they jump straight to single payer. 

Frankly it shouldnt take much, but so many of our governing class are beyond the looking glass. 

WHO DO YOU GO TO FOR ANSWERS?

 

BE CONFIDANT!Most people who argue politics get angry because they really do not have a handle on their subject, though a strong feeling. It is easier to gain confidence than you think. Just look at the roots to understand the whole tree. Answers or, better, questions, flow easily when the roots are clear. There are only two sides to a political argument. One side says community interests are more important than are individual interests, and the reverse is the other side, as cited on claysamerica.com. Look at this site and take the ten simple steps to have a clear and confidant vision from which all issues are easily grasped and discussed. Claysamerica.com

 

LIMITING CARBON EMMISSIONS

It is great when the television news, including FOX, shows many smokestacks billowing, not smoke, but steam.  Now, carbon dioxide, or plant food, is dangerous to inhale or digest, and it would appear so is moisture, the clouds, rain and snow that blanket parts of the earth and prevent the sun's radiant absorbed heat from escaping.  Why, it is terrible that these components cause green things to grow and we should bankrupt America to put a stop to it, even though we know we cannot. We must at least make the effort to prevent moisture from affecting the earth's surface.  Getting rid of smog, particulate matter in the atmosphere, on which moisture condenses in order to fall as snow and rain, is essential so we can have the promised bone-dry planet.  Obama can do it.  He said so, didn't he? claysamerica.com

Its true that the Tea Party Movement...

...is not well organized and they don't really have a true standard (or standard bearer).  But one thing is for sure - they know what they do not like.  And that is a bunch of double dealing, rino republican politicians.  And they can spot one of these scoundrels in an instant and then the rotten tomatoes and lettuce will start to fly.  I think that the only way that the Tea Party Movement and the GOP will come together will be if the GOP is purged of the Transnational Progressives that have hijacked it. Fat chance of that happening, I think but not impossible. But give the Tea Party time. One day it might be a new "2nd Party" to replace the democrats. 

I disagree strongly with the author regarding the influence of Ron Paul supporters within the Tea Party movement.  He kept trying to insert that.  Subliminal stimuli?  Tea Party movement can be counted on to be very pro-Israel and Ron Paul lost a lot of credibility with his connections to anti-semite/holocaust denier groups.  Now maybe there are a lot of ex-PaulPods who've seen the light.  That's a possibility. Darvin Dowdy

"2nd Party" to replace the democrats.

I like it

Interesting Post

Authenticity is going to be key for those who court the TEA party folks - patronizing or feeding a line of crapola won't work.

While the focus from the candidates should be like that of McDonnell in VA - on the most urgent issues (economy, national security) - conservative social issues are even higher percentage winning issues with the US voting public. Only the fool would jettison any leg of the conservative Republican platform.

BTW

I am a long-time fan of Southpark, long-time customer of Starbucks, & a frequent Whole Foods shopper. It's not a good idea to pigeonhole any group.

There is no Change

Both political parties no longer represent us.......only big government.  The Republicans still will not let outsiders (you & me) get involved in their party, except to pass out handbills.  The Republicans need a true to form wake-up call & so do the democrats, otherwise their 'image' is only temporary.

When the 'system' is corrupt & both parties are a part of the 'system' then that makes them corrupt.  They cannot make any changes from within the 'system'.  It needs to be an outside force, a new political party or citizen's protest.

Finally, someone just wrote a book about a small town that stands up to federal tyranny & corruption & ends up starting the 2nd American Revolution, just like Lexington in 1775.  It's a great read, powerful & shows what's going to happen nxt in America.  I recommend it.

booksbyoliver.com

The way to effect real change

Get involved with your local party, take a leadership role, become active. Don't wait for them to come to you - go to them. We don't need some third party that will just end up re-electing the same Democrats. We need to take over & rebuild the Republican party.

The obvious is not always so obvious...

..."Lately, I'm frequently asked by Republican campaigns, party executives, consultants and think-tank leaders about how to connect better with Tea Party or libertarian voters."

To understand their frustrations they must spend time among them.  I'm talking significant time. Years.   Work among them. Live in the same "un-gated" communities they live in.  Sending their kids to the same public schools, Shopping at Walmart, etc. 

 So "they" don't have time for that, you say? Well here's a novel idea -  suggest to these various org's (detached stuff shirts top heavy w/phd's) that they should  search/seek out some "new blood"  from among the ranks of these disaffected ones.  There's plenty of talent out there. 

Radical change is needed in order to move the Conservative Movement up to the next higher plateau.  Too many of our own (in dominant positions) are resisting that change.  Darvin Dowdy

Ayn Rand Critics

SELF INTEREST OR SELF-CENTERED

This is directed at those who admire and criticize Ayn Rand’s beliefs about people who stand on their own feet.  Most who criticize Rand say she promoted selfishness, thereby greed, which is self-centered and anti-individual creativity, therefore, anti-Rand.  Rand admired the creative individual, such as James Jerome Hill, on whom she was reputed to have based her character Dabney Taggart in Atlas Shrugged.  If we look at Howard Roark’s summation to the jury, from Fountainhead, we do not see a self-centered individual destroying his work. Were he greedy, he would have simply accepted his payment. We see a self-interested, other- and outer-centered individual in love with his own dreams and creations, as one would love a spouse, child or family and refuse to allow them to be assaulted.  Though love for anything spiritual may be missing, a great idea or vision also measures up to that which is spiritual, and that view is not inconsistent with Christianity.  Claysamerica.com.

 

Problem is . . .

Rand, like the Bible is certainly inspriational. I love The Fountainhead, but just like the Bible, it is fiction. You're never going to meet her characters in life. Purist like a Roark are usually crazy or depressed in a world of shades and blurry lines.

Not going anywhere

Even if the Republicans get some of the tea-baggers who weren't already for republicans to begin with . . . and even if they got some seats in 2010 . . . 2012 and 2016 would be the same deal as 2008. That's because the Republican party has firmly become a self-intersted, self-perpetuating organization. It has the ad campaign of conservatism, but the actions are government as usual. Dems have thier backers and Reps have theirs. To the winner goes the spoils.

I think Obama's rhetoric sounded so much better because the Republican rhetoric sounded so old (particularly after Bush). But in the end, it is rhetoric. Bad mouthing Obama for having a better campaign than Reps is really missing the point. He (Obama) isn't trying to destroy the country and neither are most of the Rep candidates. Both however, would rather win than do necessary changes that tea-baggers and even reposible liberals want.