Dear Barack: Follow the Money.

Barack Obama has been getting plenty of advice since that debate in Denver. Here’s mine, prior to tomorrow on Long Island. “Follow the money”. It’s an old maxim of journalism and it rarely leads you wrong.

Most basically, this is a variation on the adage that “if you’re not playing offense, you’re playing defense.” By zeroing in on money — who makes it now, who doesn’t, and where and how the Romney-Ryan money “plan” (sic) shifts any of those equations — is unquestionably the best line of attack on the Republicans’ central thesis. Which is: that they are better stewards of the economy than any liberal at any time and especially Barack Obama.

Definitive studies long ago proved otherwise. And otherwise. And otherwise. And so on.

While Joe Biden played offense better than the boss, in his debate with Paul Ryan, it was still exasperating to watch Ryan’s treadworn assertion that he was bringing “new ideas” to the table pass without a well-deserved smile, guffaw or spit-take. While moderator Martha Raddatz did at least press Ryan on whether he “actually had a plan”, the better response for Biden, and Obama tomorrow is to slap down the gauzy wall of “technic-y” sounding econo-babble, serious-sounding but vacuous noise designed to impress and amaze everyone who needs a graph to calculate their savings at a 50% off sale. The reality is that Ryan-speak is eye-rolling, used car lot chicanery to everyone who finally wised up to the reality that the Bush tax cuts, themselves a repeat of deficit-busting Reaganomics, did nothing for job creation or the wealth enhancement of the middle class.

And the Reagan-W* economic “miracle” (god help you if you’re not a hedge fund partner)  is all the Romney-Ryan (or Ryan-to-Romney) money scheme is, buffed up by a P90X work-out and no shortage of narcissistic delusion.

Point being, there is nothing older than a strategy to control government built around guarding the access and assets of the already enfranchised.

Obama is also encouraged to display exasperation with the patently and demonstrably false assertions that:

“The stimulus failed.”

“Obamacare will add trillions to the deficit“.

“Green pork [renewable energy] is a worse bet than established energy conglomerates with more lobbying power.”

“Eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the top-tier is harmful (primarily) to small businesses.”

Bain Capital created jobs and is therefore a model for the economy as a whole.”

… and on and on, with particular, disdainful emphasis reserved for the biggest canard of all, namely that the Bush tax cuts created jobs the last time we tried this same, very old idea.

Philosophically — the tone Obama enjoys most — the argument can be reduced to this:

“Despite all their hyperventilating about government spending and debt, neither the Governor or his running mate, who is supposed to be the braintrust of their economic thinking, can actually show how this grand scheme of their’s either reduces debt, most which was created after the Bush tax cuts of 2003, or avoids further penalizing the middle class. If they could don’t you think they’d take advantage of a TV audience of 70 million to make certain everyone understood what they were selling? But they can’t because what they’re selling has no intellectual basis other than as a sales pitch for your vote.

“And you know, I was very impressed with the Governor’s famous “47%” speech to those wealthy donors down in Florida. I thought it was remarkably candid of him, and I congratulate him for that refreshing breath of honesty. But what he should have reminded those millionaires and billionaires is that they too are “dependent on government” in that so much of their wealth is built on controlling how government responds to their needs, how it does or doesn’t tax them, how they gain unique access to government for lucrative contracts and so on. The Governor’s friends very much depend on government to keep them as wealthy as the are.

“Fundamentally every election, especially presidential elections, come down to who government is going to serve most — who is gets to be most “dependent”on government decisions. My argument is that the economy will fare best if the middle-class, the “customer class” has wealth restored that has drained away in the past generation. More customers will create more jobs faster than more tax cuts for a leverage buy out partner already living like king thanks to a 15% tax rate.”

It really is that simple.

Top 5 Dying Facts That Endanger Obama’s Reelection

A brilliant and widely circulated Chicago Tribune obituary claims that Facts has died. If you haven’t read the whole thing, here is a flavor:

Through the 19th and 20th centuries, Facts reached adulthood as the world underwent a shift toward proving things true through the principles of physics and mathematical modeling. There was respect for scientists as arbiters of the truth, and Facts itself reached the peak of its power.

But those halcyon days would not last. People unable to understand how science works began to question Facts. And at the same time there was a rise in political partisanship and a growth in the number of media outlets that would disseminate information, rarely relying on feedback from Facts.

… Facts is survived by two brothers, Rumor and Innuendo, and a sister, Emphatic Assertion.

Services are alleged to be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that mourners make a donation to their favorite super PAC.

I’m a starry eyed optimist, so I choose to think Facts is still on life support hoping for a miracle recovery. But if the President and his team can’t successfully breathe life back into five key Facts that are currently on life support, it’s difficult to see how he can win in November.

Fact #1: Obama opted for a private health insurance reform model developed by Mitt Romney and other conservatives, rather than an insurance plan run by government.

Fact on life support.
• Fact on Life Support: Only 25% of people who took the Kaiser health reform quiz understood that Obama’s health reforms will not “create a new government run insurance plan to be offered along with private plans.”

• Implications of Death: GOP parrot trainer Frank Luntz has commanded his cockatiels to repeat the phrase “government takeover of health care” for a very sound political reason, because market research shows that is a compelling reason for moderate swing voters to oppose health care reform. The more swing voters believe that falsehood, the less they like Obamacare and Obama.

Fact on life support.
Fact #2: Bush policies and the economic downturn under Bush were the most powerful causes of the ballooning national debt, and Romney wants to extend those Bush policies.

• Fact on Life Support: Out of twelve issues, there is only one issue where voters say Romney would do a better job than Obama – handling the deficit. Voters currently believe Bush disciple Romney is the best person to tackle the debt that Bush policies largely created.

• Implications of Death: The size of the debt is especially concerning to moderate swing voters, so getting blamed for causing that problem badly hurts the President’s prospects of wooing that key constituency.

Fact #3: Obama’s stimulus package of tax cuts and investments helped ease the pain and damage done by the Great Recession.

Fact on life support.
• Fact on Life Support: Over half of independents (56%) believe the stimulus didn’t make any difference.

• Implications of Death: The central issue of the campaign is the economy, stupid. If swing voters don’t believe Obama was effective on the issue that concerns them the most, look out.

Fact #4: In terms of private sector job creation, things have gotten significantly better during Obama’s time in office than they were under Bush and the the Bush policies Romney proposes to resurrect.

Fact on life support.
• Fact on Life Support: Three-fourths (75%) of independents believe that the economy has gotten worse or stayed the same, and 77% of independents believe the economy is still in recession.

• Implications of Death: Even if most voters blame Bush for the economic meltdown, as most still do, according to polls, it’s difficult to see how swing voters who believe that things are still headed in the wrong direction will vote to rehire the incumbent President.

Fact #5: In the Obama years, taxes for the middle class were near historic lows.

Fact on life support.
• Fact on Life Support: Eighty-five percent of independent voters incorrectly believe taxes on the middle class either increased or have not changed.

• Implications of Death: Independent swing voters vote their pocketbooks, and oppose paying more in taxes. If they perceive that they were paying high taxes in the middle of a recession, the Democrat in charge will get the lion’s share of the blame, because Democrats are usually presumed to be advocating for higher taxes.

Of course, there are many other falsehoods hurting Obama. Little things like he is a foreigner, Muslim, socialist designing death panels to kill off your loved ones.

But in a year when the economy is the top issue, and with the health reform bill about to get hot again after the Supreme Court rules, these are the five dying Facts that are hurting Obama the most with swing voters. Team Obama needs to resuscitate good old Fact, or Obama’s political career will perish with him.

– Loveland

Jobs, Not Health Care Reform?

Source: Health Partners, February 2010 (graphic from MinnPost)
When the recent Massachusetts Senate race gave Senate Republicans their 41-vote majority, pundits, pollsters and political consultants told us that President Obama and congressional Democrats had to give up on health care and instead focus on jobs.

After all, that was what was written on the modern day stone tablets delivered from the mountaintop – public opinion surveys. Jobs and economic development were topping the polls, while health care was much further down the list.

Ee gads. Almost immediately, you started hearing pollophobic pols dutifully repeating the word “jobs” like trained cockatiels. Forget “affordable health care,” the political consultants lectured the political class. Focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs!” The word “jobs” quickly became to 2010, what “terrorism” was to late 2001.

To inform the new “jobs” policy proposals needed to accompany this rhetoric, the logical thing to do would seem to be to ask small business owners, who create most of the jobs in America, what they need to expand their businesses. Stimulate the economy with more government spending? Cut business taxes again? Stimulate better access to capital? Create more consumer demand, by, for instance, giving consumers another tax break?

Well, in a survey of Minnesota and Western Wisconsin small business owners released today by Health Partners, all of those things were on the list of things named. But at the very top of the list, topping the aforementioned job creation proposals by more than 3-to-1 margins, was, drum roll please…

…”affordable health care.”

So, it looks like it’s déjà vu all over again. It turns out we don’t need a focus on jobs instead of affordable health care. We need a focus on affordable health care in order to create jobs.

And new numbers released today show that the health reform bill bottled up in the Senate could help. For instance, an estimated 72,400 small businesses in Minnesota could be helped by a small businesses tax credit proposal that makes premiums more affordable.

Which begs the question, what do the cockatiels do now?

– Loveland