Archive for October, 2014

Disillusioned Millennials Could Make the Difference on Election Day

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Originally published at The Daily Caller

It’s time for politicians who have taken advantage of young Americans to face the facts: We’re pretty much over you. Talk to most twenty-somethings, and you’ll likely hear that whatever enthusiasm we had for President Obama has waned substantially – to the point where a solid majority of us disapprove of his performance. If the data tell us anything, it’s that Millennials are extremely independent-minded and pragmatic. These tendencies only grow stronger as we age.

The latest Millennial attitudes survey from Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP) reinforces this point. IOP’s new data on 18-29 year olds, released this week, contains findings consistent with trends discovered in their last several surveys, and is similar to what a recent Reason/Rupe poll found. Of particular note for those concerned with the midterm elections: Millennials most likely to vote this year support Republicans by a margin of 51 to 47 percent, and 26 percent aren’t committed to either party.

The GOP shouldn’t pop the champagne quite yet, however. Millennials aren’t suddenly partisan Republicans just because we’re not happy with Democrats. Most of us feel alienated by our increasingly hierarchical political system. When asked who is responsible for the nation’s gridlock, 56 percent responded to the latest IOP poll by saying “everyone.” 62 percent of the most likely voters said they would be perfectly content to replace every single member of Congress. This speaks to the data that shows young Americans are skeptical of large institutions generally.

The upcoming election will tell us a lot about the long-term loyalties of Millennials. It’s likely that we will grow further into our independent tendencies, and become the type of voters that politicians must capture to win. This is a sentiment that IOP Director Maggie Williams expressed, saying: “Candidates for office: Ignore Millennial voters at your peril.”

This is important because new data shows that young Americans are moving back toward our traditional, pre-Obama role as crucial swing-voters. That gives our generation a lot of power to assert ourselves.

The information we have on Millennial attitudes consistently demonstrates that there’s a major opening for candidates interested in facilitating a turnaround for free market ideas. It’s also clear that the time for action is now. Young people are willing to give politicians of any party a listen, but only if they prove their worth. Polling has shown that party labels mean less to Millennials than previous generations, with over half of us eschewing partisanship entirely.

Would-be leaders of all stripes have an opportunity to earn our trust by sitting down and actually listening to our concerns. The average graduate leaves college with over $30,000 in student debt. We face a youth unemployment rate of nearly 15 percent. Obamacare, which 57 percent of us oppose, more than doubles health care costs for many of us. Cronyism that favors giant corporations over innovative startups makes it harder for us to improve our lives through entrepreneurship and hard work. We are well aware that this isn’t the hope and change we were promised.

Politicians can earn our votes by supporting equitable policies that don’t foist an undue economic burden on our generation. An 18 year old’s lifetime share of the growing 17 trillion national debt is $800,000. This isn’t fair, it’s hampering our future economic prospects, and we know it. Millennials have come to believe that we can’t trust anyone in politics. As Harvard IOP senior advisory board member Ron Fournier noted, this particular trend has gained traction over time. It’s little wonder why.

Despite this cynicism toward politics, polling fromHarvard, Pew, and Reason has consistently shown that young Americans do care deeply about our country and want to be civically engaged. The fact is that most would prefer to help others outside of the political system – a positive development for those of us who believe government is ineffective as a charitable institution. The latest IOP poll shows that one-third of Millennials would consider volunteering for a political campaign. On the other hand, a full 67 percent of us say that we wouldvolunteer our time to support a charitable cause.

Will the silver lining amid all this data about disillusionment be that Millennials ultimately support those who work limit government’s destructive power over our generation? Given who is currently the most enthusiastic about voting, this could very well be the case. Tuesday will be a good first step toward learning if the trends found in this year’s polling bear out politically. It will then be up to Millennials to continue asserting ourselves as an independent voting bloc unwilling to be taken for granted. Politicians, you’ve been warned.

The Antidote for Income Inequality is Economic Opportunity

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Originally published at Townhall

Recently, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the worrisome and widening gap between America’s rich and poor. Policymakers ought to pay attention, because the circumstances are in fact tragic. Our nation’s youth are plagued by a 14.9 percent unemployment rate. The middle class is struggling to stay afloat. Average incomes are stagnating while the cost of basic goods continues to rise. The American public are keenly aware of the dismal economic situation: Polls consistently show that a vast majority of Americans still feel the recession isn’t over.

Is it any wonder this is the case when government is fueled by cronyism? After transferring our hard-earned resources to their favored special interests in the name of “stimulus,” Obamacare, and other expensive exploits, politicians have not delivered the results they promised. After all, a giant government ruled by elites tends to favor its own.

As economist James Pethokoukis has pointed out, a “too-big-to-fail” approach has primed our economy for just the kind of income gap that has grown along with the size of government. This bailout mentality, coupled with a complicated tax code that unfairly enriches corporations, a patent system that targets entrepreneurs, and a top-heavy bureaucratic system that favors established interests, has left average Americans in the dust.

These circumstances leave those who believe that politicians know how to manage your money more effectively than you do in a tough spot. Columnists such as Paul Krugman of the New York Times and Kevin Drum from Mother Jones, ever-apologists for concentrating more political power in the hands of a dominant few – as if the money won’t follow – have taken an interest in wealth gaps that seems tragically ironic given the policies they support. While they write about recent upticks in income inequality, they appear suspiciously ignorant as to how centralized power causes capital to rise to the top while the middle and bottom stagnate.

The trouble is that lawmakers and pundits often play on people’s very legitimate worries and sympathies. They claim their policies are meant to help the most vulnerable when in reality, the rich are getting richer and the economy stagnates as the government continues to grow. What should concern all of us is not just an income gap, but the fact that politicians are using it as an excuse to expand their own power.

President Obama, for example, has taken to repeating slick lines about income inequality. It seems to be one of the few talking points he has left in his central-planning arsenal amid record disapproval ratings. In fact, such rhetoric was the centerpiece of his State of the Union address earlier this year. Naturally, the President failed to mention the fact that he supports egregious transfers of wealth from the middle class to the rich in the form of endless corporate subsidies andbailouts.

After all, his signature health care law is corporate welfare on steroids. As research from the Mercatus Center demonstrates, health care costs are one of the main factors driving income inequality. Surely none of the government’s legally mandated cronyism in that area has anything to do with the rich getting richer, right?

If the “solution” you’re hearing to the income gap problem amounts to more governmental robbing of job creators and average taxpayers, be skeptical. When not prevented from doing so by bureaucrats, new middle class businesses spur economic growth. Instead of endlessly taking from the rest of the nation andconcentrating record amounts of wealth in the hands of the Washington DC elite, politicians ought to let Americans keep more of what we earn. Rolling back red tape, giving consumers more power to make their own health care decisions, and making it easier to engage in entrepreneurial pursuits will help to revive our sluggish economy.

Politicians, who are motivated first and foremost by money and power, want us to believe that they’re taking from the rich and helping the poor. In addition, they hope the American public thinks this will occur absent both adverse economic consequences and the corruption inherent in unwieldy government. Unfortunately, what ends up happening when lawmakers attempt this style of redistribution is that corporations work closely with their political partners at the expense of those without access to power.

Ultimately, the only sustainable way to help the least privileged lift themselves up, is to create the circumstances under which they have economic opportunity. This will require an end to the government picking winners and losers in the business world, all the while robbing would-be entrepreneurs of their tax dollars. Unfortunately, anemic “post-recession” growth (coupled with intermittent shrinking) has provided little in the way of the freedom our nation needs to get out of this slump. Record high levels of government dependency reflect this sad reality.

Will we continue to allow legislators to exploit the wealth gap they’ve widened, to further concentrate their own power? Or will we finally force politicians to yield some of their control back to the people so we can restore the American Dream? Sustained economic growth will require a strict limit on the power politicians have to micromanage our daily lives. Giving Americans the chance to pursue our entrepreneurial inclinations, absent constant bureaucratic burdens, will allow for the universal upward mobility necessary to make rhetoric about income inequality deservedly passé.

Wendy Davis Went Too Far

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

It takes a lot to rile me. I work in politics, so I tire quickly of people peddling the latest outrage. I often find myself ignoring the things everyone’s talking about when I think they’re stupid. However, I’m genuinely disgusted with both Wendy Davis and Battleground Texas right now. The latest ad released by her campaign stoops so low that it treats Greg Abbott’s disability as something worthy of attack.

Claiming that Abbott is a hypocrite for having sued and won after he became partially disabled due to an accident, the Davis ad proceeds to say that he hasn’t afforded others in tragic situations the same type of accommodations. This is an absolutely bogus claim that attempts to reduce very complicated legal liability questions into soundbites, and erroneously act as if Abbott had full control over each situation as Attorney General. I’m not inherently against attack ads, but dragging a man through the mud by way of his wheelchair? That’s beyond low.

 

 

Soon after I watched this absurd ad, I was treated to an arguably more ridiculous email from the Democratic group Battleground Texas. It claims that Greg Abbott supports Jim Crow laws and wants to take the country back to an era where minorities were denied the right to vote. REALLY? We can’t have a policy discussion about the need to balance ballot access and fraud prevention without stooping to that kind of a ghoulish level?

 

I don’t know if the Davis campaign and BGTX are acting out of desperation. I’d like to think that, and to forgive the people behind these antics. Regardless of their motivation, what I do know is the type of division they’re trying to sow to acquire power is dangerous. When you dehumanize the “other,” whether that’s a political opponent and his supporters, a group of people classified by race, religion, or really any other criteria, you’re laying the groundwork for tyranny.

When we cease to see each other as human beings and believe that those who differ from us are motivated by hate, remember that the only people who gain are those consolidating their political power as a result. The rest of us? We suffer in divided communities, rife with suspicion about “others,” and more inclined to abandon our liberties for “protection” from said “monsters.” A free society cannot function under such circumstances.