(Cross-posted at Americans for Prosperity…)
Patrick Ruffini has some very astute observations over at The Next Right re: how fiscal conservatives on Capitol Hill should handle the rapidly approaching economic stimulus debate on Capitol Hill. Here’s the most relevant blurb, but read the whole thing:
Republicans begin to tap into Americans’ common sense belief in belt-tightening as the appropriate response to lean economic times. Families have had to make sacrifices — it’s time for government to do the same and not saddle our kids with a trillion more in debt on top of bailout after bailout after bailout. Or, taking on more debt than we could afford is what got us into this mess. Now they’re saying that taking on more will get us out? Give me a break.
We then introduce a $250 billion package of targeted tax cuts and small business incentives. We cite as a rationale for the figure Obama’s own economist, Christina Romer, who has found a 3x multiplier effect from tax reduction, while other mainstream economists who say the multiplier from a spending increase is about 1x. We argue that this package would have the same impact as the inefficient and wasteful Obama stimulus.
Building on Ruffini’s analysis, I think there’s a real danger that while Hill conservatives may rally around tax relief as a generally better stimulus plan than unnecessary make-work infrastructure projects, they’re likely to propose a stimulus plan that still includes hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars for many of those same unnecessary make-work infrastructure projects.
What conservatives on Capitol Hill need to realize – and soon – is that it’s impossible to win the “Me-Too-But-Less” game. As in, yes, I want to stimulate the economy and create jobs through infrastructure spending, but less than the liberals do.
To win this debate, conservatives need to draw a bright line in the sand: the way to best stimulate the economy is through tax relief – not paying one guy to dig a hole and another guy to fill it back in. Period.
Otherwise, anything they say will amount to, “That guy wants to waste $800 billion of your tax dollars on a scheme that will do nothing to stimulate the economy, while I only want to waste $200 billion of your tax dollars! Aren’t I great?!”
Sadly, based on conversations I’ve had with people on the Hill, I’m afraid that’s where we’re headed. And that’s exactly the kind of “Me-Too-But-Less” mentality that kept conservatives largely irrelevant on Capitol Hill for four decades.
Filed under: Online Video
In the spirit of the season, here’s a completely arbitrary list of the five best Christmas music videos on the web. Or at least five videos I find entertaining and/or amusing. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and most importantly, have a very Blessed Festivus…
5. Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters (via National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.) No matter how much you like Christmas, who doesn’t look out the window this time of year and long for the nice warm days of summer? Especially if Cousin Eddie isn’t involved…
4. Ave Maria by Luciano Pavarotti. Simply put, the guy was a badass.
3. The Hanukkah Song by Adam Sandler. Yeah, I know it’s not a Christmas song, but the holiday season just isn’t the same without it.
2. Merry Christmas from the Family by Robert Earl Keene. If you didn’t grow up in the South, you probably won’t get this one, and you may even find it borderline offensive. But if you did grow up and/or still live in the South, this video probably hits closer to home than you’d like to admit. And besides, how can you not like a song that begins with the line: “Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk at our Christmas party…”?
1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Frank Sinatra. Sinatra’s probably the only guy in history who could look cool and make women go weak in the knees while singing this song. And, no, I’m not forgetting about Springsteen’s version. Sorry, Bruce.
Like most Congressional Democrats, U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis – President-elect Obama’s pick to be the next Labor Secretary – is a co-sponsor of the controversial “card check” bill that would essentially do away with the secret ballot for America’s working men and women in union elections.
However, it turns out Congresswoman Solis is a big supporter of the secret ballot – but only for herself! Check out this Washington Post report from February 2007, when Solis and three of her colleagues sent a letter to Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joe Baca protesting the fact that the Caucus’ recent election wasn’t conducted with secret ballots:
“When Baca was elected, Solis, Sanchez and her sister, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), disputed the election procedure and unsuccessfully pushed for a new vote by secret ballot.”
According to this article, Solis signed a letter to Baca saying that a secret ballot was necessary to protect the “integrity” of the Caucus election:
“…in a letter to Baca earlier this month, she, her sister, Solis and Velazquez contended the vote did not follow procedure because secret ballot votes were not taken.
“The letter requested a new vote, by secret ballot.
“While this request is not likely to change the results, and while it may seem like a mere formality, it is important that the integrity of the CHC be unquestioned and above reproach,” it said
Typical. A secret ballot for me, but not for thee!
Filed under: Twitter
If, like me, you’re relatively new to the Twitter bandwagon (or probably even if you’re an old hand,) you should check out these two posts by Rohit Bhargava on his Influential Marketing Blog. Very useful…
I just visited the Obama transition website Change.gov for the first time in a week or so, and they continue to give citizens a tantalizing little peek behind the scenes at Transition HQ. Just take a quick look at the two Flickr slide shows linked here and here and the web video embedded below:
Most Washington insiders probably look at these images and see nothing remarkable – Obama and his team walking through the bowels of a hotel basement, gathered around a makeshift conference table, preparing for a news conference.
But to most Americans who are either excited about the public policy process for the first time or just now re-engaging after a long bout of cynicism, these images resonate. They’ve never seen this kind of stuff from politicians before. They’ve never been backstage at a presidential news conference. They’ve never seen the staff debating how to proceed on specific policy items. Of course, they still really aren’t, since these images are selectively edited, but they feel like they’re seeing something they’re not supposed to see.
As I’ve pointed out before, the good news for Hill conservatives is that this is relatively easy to do. While Obama’s team is seen meeting with “advocates for the environment,” why shouldn’t GOP Members of Congress release their own short videos showing them meeting with, listening to and gathering input from taxpayer advocates or small-business owners from back home? Or post photos that go beyond the typical shots standing behind a podium or a forced-smile grip-and-grin in the office? How about some shots of listening to constituents or meeting with staff or pointing out something interesting on a Capitol tour instead of only posing for a group shot? Just something different and seemingly unstaged that lets citizens feel a little closer and emotionally connected to their elected officials?
One of the first big battles in Congress next year will likely be over something known as card check, which is a term that most Americans haven’t even heard yet.
At issue is a bill ironically titled the Employee Free Choice Act. I say ironically because rather than promoting “free choice” for employees, it would actually take away the secret ballot that workers currently have when they decide whether or not to form or join a union. Instead of a secret ballot, union organizers would be able to confront – some would say intimidate – individual workers and encourage them to sign a card stating that they want to unionize.
The stated goal of the so-called card check bill is to unionize more businesses across America, which would essentially spread that fantastic UAW business model to every corner of the land. Hey – it worked great in Detroit, right?
Anyway, the card check battle is already heating up in Washington, on the nation’s TV airwaves – and on video sharing sites like YouTube. I’ve scoured the web in search of the best card check videos out there in the hope of learning more about how we can better wage this battle in the coming months. Here are the five best ones I found:
5. Coercive “Card Check” Union Organizing Victims Speak Out — by National Right to Work:
Why It Works: The use of real workers who have been the victims of intimidation by union organizers really drives the issue home in an emotional, easy-to-understand way.
How it Could Be Better: Some of the cuts are a little rough and abrupt, but an unpolished product is often better for online audiences than a perfectly produced video. Also, the white Right to Work logo next to each worker’s name is a little distracting, as is the constant crawl at the bottom of the screen.
4. EFCA Exposed: Former Union Organizers Spill the Beans – by EFCA Exposed, Labor Relations Institute:
Why It Works: This video delivers a creative twist on the ones that feature real workers who have been victims of intimidation by actually showcasing the intimidators – former union organizers who admit to manipulation, deception and intimidation to get workers to sign union cards. One of the former organizers, Salvatore (above), is right out of central casting. The guy could have guest starred on The Sopranos.
How It Could Be Better: The video assumes the viewer is already knows what the card check bill is all about. There’s no real background provided, and the shorthand “EFCA” acronym is used, which could confuse a lot of potential allies.
3. You Don’t Want to Meet Bill – by U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Why It Works: If you want to convince people that union bosses can be intimidating jerks, you can’t do much better than to show an actual union boss being an intimidating jerk in a candid, unscripted, moment. What worker in his right mind would want this guy in their face when the secret union ballot is abolished?!
How It Could Be Better: Contrary to the video’s title, I actually would like to meet Bill – at least virtually. I’d love to see the Chamber post a video with Bill’s backstory – the unedited video, information about who Bill is, what union he belongs to, the circumstances surrounding his outburst, etc. The video above obviously had the constraints of a 30-second TV ad, but those same constraints don’t exist online. Tell us more about this jerk, please!
2. Ashwin Madia Can Run But He Can’t Hide – by Employee Freedom
Why It Works: This video clearly shows just how powerful one inquisitive and persistent person with a camera can be. In the video, Congressional candidate Ashwin Madia from Minnesota’s Third District is shown literally running away from somebody who asks him why he supports the Employee Free Choice Act. You’d expect a potential Member of Congress to be able to answer a simple question from a voter on the campaign trail, yet he literally runs away like a frightened little girl. Not his finest moment, obviously. Fortunately, Madia lost his election in November, 48% – 41%.
How It Could Be Better: This video is great, but it doesn’t include any kind of call to action at the end. Why not urge viewers to visit the website of Madia’s campaign opponent? Or some other anti-Madia or anti-card-check website? The content is great, but it doesn’t do anything to get the viewer to actually do anything at the end.
1. EFCA Means Intimidation – by Union Facts
Why It Works: Like the Right to Work video above, the use of real workers is very effective. The fact that every worker interviewed in the video is female and most of them are ethnic minorities only makes that emotional connection even more powerful. Also, the stark black background, red line and chilling sound effects (did your blood pressure rise a little when you heard that knocking-door sound effect?) further the emotional impact. Overall, I think this is the best produced, most effective card check video online right now – informative, emotional, interesting, and relevant.
How It Could Be Better: Clocking in at more than four and a half minutes, the video’s a little on the long side. Research shows that most people don’t watch online videos for more than a minute or so. That said, this video’s target audience isn’t the same one that’s looking for the latest celebrity meltdown, so it’s probably not a dealbreaker.
Honorable Mention: Obama Girl on the Employee Free Choice Act – by American Right at Work
Yes, she’s a complete idiot. She obviously has no idea what the bill would do. In fact, she can’t even say the name of the bill without stumbling over the second word. The video is devoid of any substance whatsoever.
But she’s hot. And semi-famous. Which is why nearly 8,000 people have clicked to see her deliver one shallow line about the bill. That’s more than four of the five good videos above and one of the 20 most viewed online videos on this issue. Take that, Salvatore!
Filed under: Uncategorized
Mention YouTube or online video to some policy wonks in DC and you’re bound to see eyes roll and get a lecture about how there are more important things to tend to than watching that Star Wars kid goof off.
Of course, there’s much more to online video than lowbrow stuff like cats puking or even clips of reporters throwing their shoes at the President of the Unites States.
Fact is online video can be one of the best ways to distribute your in-depth, highly educational (dare I say wonky?!) material to the masses, and some people are already proving it.
For example, Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute has released a series of very successful online economic lectures through the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation. While he almost certainly has and will continue to make these points in written white papers, by merely talking in a conversational, engaging way into a video camera and mixing in a few stock photos and graphics to keep the visuals from getting monotonous, Dan is able to spread his message to tens of thousands of people around the world via video. His most recent video (a very relevant one about how NOT to deal with the current economic slump) is embedded below, and you can check out his others here.
Another great example is this global warming lecture on Reason.tv by Danish thinker Bjorn Lomborg. Cut from the same mold as Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” there are no bells and whistles, no high-tech special effects, but it’s a riveting half hour that largely counters everything you’ve ever heard about how we should deal with global warming. Another Lomborg lecture on YouTube has received more than 90,000 views to date as part of the incredibly popular TED lecture series.
Of course, Dan and Bjorn are engaging, interesting, camera-ready personalities, so their videos are going to be more successful and popular than the stereotypical economist who might come across more like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
That said, I’m pretty sure they’re not the only interesting spokesmen of substance out there. In challenging times like these, more and more regular people (increasing numbers of whom are out of work and sitting at home on their computers) have the time and the curiosity to learn more about how to improve the situation we’re in. Perhaps not curious enough to read a detailed economic white paper, but probably curious enough to watch a 10-20 minute video about it. So let’s get our message out to them…
Yesterday I had the honor of speaking at a New Media Exchange that was held at Americans for Tax Reform, where I discussed a video I produced earlier this year that exposed the hypocrisy of one of the world’s most famous politicians. The angle I was asked to discuss was how online video can lead to big-time mainstream media exposure (I ended up doing a live six-minute segment on Hannity and Colmes about it the night after I posted the video,) but several other great videos were also highlighted that showcased other ways in which online video can have a significant impact.
Probably the biggest public-policy impact made by any video highlighted at yesterday’s Exchange was the amusing one below from the Heritage Foundation, which was the centerpiece of its recent Stop the EPA campaign:
This video helped generate 14,461 public comments to the EPA in opposition to the Agency’s stringent proposed regulations on carbon dioxide, which could even restrict ordinary household lawnmowers. Most people are accustomed to contacting their Members of Congress about issues that concern them, but regulatory comments to the Executive Branch have traditionally been the exclusive domain of Inside the Beltway lobbyists. The fact that this video helped generate nearly 15,000 comments on a relatively arcane EPA regulation shows just how powerful a medium this is becoming. Kudos to Rob Bluey and Nick Loris of Heritage for their great work.
Also speaking at yesterday’s Exchange was Pete Eyre of Bureaucrash, who showed two videos – a profile of DC resident Dick Heller, who led a successful fight to overturn the District’s gun ban in the U.S. Supreme Court – and the one below, which illustrates how one ordinary person can confront power that’s not acting in the public interest:
Now I’m not saying everybody should run out and stick a video camera in the face of every police officer who parks illegally outside Dunkin’ Donuts. But I do think there’s a real opportunity for taxpayers everywhere to go up to their elected officials at Town Hall meetings or other public gatherings – parades, graduations, etc. – and politely yet firmly ask them why they voted to spend our hard-earned tax dollars on a Mule and Packer Museum in California or on a Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.
Of course, not all of these confrontations will result in the next Macaca moment, but some of them surely will. So why not shoot first and edit later?
I don’t know why everybody’s so shocked by Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s (alleged) behavior.
Just check out this video from his post-Election-Day news conference, where he discussed exactly what he was looking for in a Senate candidate… it’s almost as if he was telling the entire world that the seat was for sale…