Frank Strategies: The Blog

The Danger of a “Me-Too-But-Less” Stimulus for Conservatives
December 30, 2008, 5:39 pm
Filed under: Government Spending, Republican Party, Taxes

(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.


The 5 Best Videos on the Web: Christmas Music Edition
December 23, 2008, 4:25 pm
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.

Obama’s New Labor Secretary Demanded Secret Ballot For Herself, But Wants to Take It Away From Workers
December 19, 2008, 3:19 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, Unions / Labor

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!

Getting to Know Twitter
December 18, 2008, 2:01 pm
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…

1. The Five Stages of Twitter Acceptance
2. Nine Ways to Make Twitter More Useful to You

Obama Continues to Give Voters a Voyeuristic Peek Behind The Curtain
December 18, 2008, 8:42 am
Filed under: Obama, Online Video, Staging

I just visited the Obama transition website 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?

The 5 Best Videos on the Web: Card Check Edition
December 16, 2008, 11:48 am
Filed under: Online Video, Unions / Labor

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!

International Man of Mystery Austin Powers Speaks Out on Shoe Throwing as an Effective WMD
December 15, 2008, 5:21 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized