Archive for January, 2016

Ron and Rand Paul are holding a big rally together on the eve of the Iowa Caucus

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Originally published at Rare

Sunday at 8PM ET former Congressman Ron Paul will join his son Senator Rand Paul at the University of Iowa for a “The Revolution Continues” rally.

As Sen. Paul explained to Rare in a recent interview, he believes the liberty vote will “come home,” and that his father’s backers will caucus in Iowa in support of his candidacy.

Regarding his Iowa ground game, Paul told Rare that he has captains in over 1,000 precincts, and that his volunteers have made calls and knocked on doors aggressively, putting him ahead of other campaigns in the state.

“These are feats that have been unheralded by the media,” said Paul.

Prior to Sunday evening’s rally, Paul held an event in Dubuque, Iowa with Rep. Thomas Massie, a fellow Kentuckian and liberty advocate who is helping to rally Paul’s troops in Iowa before Monday’s caucus.

Massie won his northern Kentucky congressional seat in 2012 with Paul’s endorsement.

To watch “The Revolution Continues” rally live, tune into Rand Paul’s Periscope livestream at 8PM ET/7 PM CT.

National School Choice Week and the Perils of Government Monopolies

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Originally published at Every Joe

It’s National School Choice Week, an annual affair built on advocacy in pursuit of “effective education options for every child.” According to the group’s website, “The goal of National School Choice Week (NSCW) is to raise public awareness of all types of education options for children. These options include traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, online learning, private schools, and homeschooling.”

To an individual who isn’t embroiled in the politics of education, this sounds like a commonsense statement. Why subvert the needs of children to empower government and its special interests? Unfortunately, this question answers itself: The culprits are typically money and power. As a result, the issue of school choice is more complicated than it seems on its face, primarily due to the government’s long-held monopoly on education.

Eighty-three percent of children in the United States attend a traditional public school. This means that generally speaking, their education options are limited to the government-run school district that their families happen to live in. This can work out if a child is from a decently affluent area, the schools are good, and his or her parents are engaged with their education. But for disproportionately low-income children trapped in failings schools, lack of choice in education can be a nightmare that sets them up for a lifetime of underperformance.

School choice comes in many forms and, despite its increasing popularity, there are myriad roadblocks to its success. One of the most well-known and popular alternatives to traditionally zoned public schools are charter schools. These are semi or fully publicly funded entities that function as non-profits, led by a private board. Other models include vouchers or education savings accounts; both of which essentially function as a tax credit given to families with which they are allowed to make their own educational and school placement decisions.

Critics of the charter model, including socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, say these schools are focused more on profits than education. “I’m not in favor of privately-run charter schools,” said Sanders to a New Hampshire audience earlier this month. “If we are going to have a strong democracy and be competitive globally, we need the best educated people in the world. And I believe in public education,” he added. (It’s unclear whether Sanders realizes charter schools are public and that on balance they outperform traditional models.)

Critics also claim that voucherizing education – insofar as taxpayer money could be spent at a private school – has the same allegedly negative impact. But there are some major problems with these notions. First is the basic idea, as Sanders claims, that charters are profiting. They’re typically set up as non-profits for a reason; their board members aren’t investors. And secondly, even if they were making a profit, from the perspective of a free market advocate, so what? Profits are the engine of innovation; the more the better. Yet people who are ideologically committed to government centralization malign the efficacy of profits, and naturally tend to oppose choice in education because it undermines the top-down system they so admire.

But not all opposition to school choice is driven by ideology alone. Teachers’ unions are unfortunately one of the biggest opponents of a competitive market in education – and they’ve done a disservice by pitting the demands of public school teachers against what years of data proves is best for children. As Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Jared Meyer wrote at The Manhattan Institute, “The tripling of funding to schools has not benefited students. Powerful teachers’ unions have directed this funding to pay raises for themselves and increased hiring, as student achievement has stagnated.” As they noted, the U.S. went from having the world’s highest graduation high school graduation rate post World War II, to spending the most money per student in the world while falling drastically performance-wise.

This is no doubt an indication that something is fundamentally wrong with the model, not the amount of money being poured into it. And where charter schools are tried, the results speak for themselves. A popular case study proving this point is New Orleans. Post Hurricane Katrina, the city’s public schools were virtually wiped out. In a moment of crisis, the city allowed charter schools to come in and take over. What resulted was so impressive, the model has stayed intact for ten years – and is going strong.

As Jonathan Alter wrote at The Daily Beast last year, pleading with liberals to support school choice, “The results in New Orleans are impressive. Over the last decade, graduation rates have surged from 54 percent to 73 percent, and college enrollment after graduation from 37 percent to 59 percent. (There’s also a new emphasis on helping those who attend college to complete it.) Before Katrina, 62 percent of schools were failing. Today, it’s 6 percent.”

This is an incredibly impressive feat. And it’s worth noting that 85 percent of students attending New Orleans public schools are African-American, many of whom come from low-income families. These are ostensibly the people presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton (who has also spoken out against charters) seek to help with their top-down approach to education. Yet the model they’re pushing is an outdated, monopolistic failure. In fact, data shows that competition from charter schools actually improves the traditionally zoned ones. But yet again, we have politicians putting the interests of a union over the needs of low-income children.

Innovation should always be a key component in education. Yet all too often it’s stifled in favor of stale, rigid models that assume one-size-fits-all. The truth is this is almost never the case, especially when it comes to the art of teaching individual students. And on the measure of retaining and educating challenging students, charters manage to outperform traditional public schools as well. There’s simply no doubt that more choice in education leads to better outcomes for students, particularly those who come from families that cannot afford alternatives. To the extent that we can free the market in education and make it as vibrant as possible, the better. Here’s to National School Choice Week and their lobbying efforts. May it pay off, for the sake of the nation’s future.

This Rand Paul Super PAC is making waves before the Iowa caucus

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Concerned American Voters (CAV), a Rand Paul super PAC run by Young Americans for Liberty President Jeff Frazee and former FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe, raised $3 million in the third fundraising quarter—the last before the Iowa caucus.

Rare spoke with CAV President Frazee about how they’re reaching and persuading voters.

“Since June, we had around 40 full-time field staffers in Iowa knock on doors and make phone calls,” said Frazee. “In that time, we made more than 1.1 million voter contacts and identified over 165,000 likely caucus goers. More than 37,000 of these likely caucus goers said they were voting for Rand, likely voting for Rand, or maybe voting for Rand.”

Frazee explained that this identification has allowed CAV to target persuadable voters with a sophisticated digital campaign. The group has produced a series of 15 second, 30 second, 60 second, and 8+ minute videos, which are being used to help mobilize Paul’s supporters.

As he noted, “We have purchased more than 33 million ad impressions and 2.5 million video views, largely focused at our targeted lists. Of the voters on our list, we’re confident we have saturated their internet experience with up to 75 percent of the ad space they view.”

Frazee told Rare the CAV’s ads were developed based on several rounds of testing to determine which messages are persuasive to voters. The topics that performed well were Paul’s correct predictions about the perils of arming jihadists, and strong condemnations of politicians for getting us into $18 trillion in debt.

Frazee said that by the time the Iowa caucus arrives, the group will have spent $1 million on targeted online advertising alone. As he explained, “Voters are craving a better understanding of Rand, and we think our messaging has helped to deliver that.”

One of the videos, a ten-minute expose heralding Paul as the leader America needs, has nearly 580,000 likes and over 11,000 shares on Facebook. And its length is a feature not a bug when it comes to advertising.

“The long-form video … is the most persuasive in terms of getting people to either change their opinion on Rand or decide that Rand is their candidate,” said Frazee.

“It does a great job of getting the message across and we have been pleasantly surprised by the high percentage of view rates” he added.

Rand Paul: The most interesting man in politics.

Posted by Vote for Rand on Wednesday, January 13, 2016

In addition to the above video, Frazee noted that an additional eleven-minute spot comparing Rand Paul to Ronald Reagan has similar view rates and persuasive abilities.

Rand Paul Stands For Liberty, Peace and ProsperityWatch this awesome video to understand why Rand Paul deserves your vote. He is principled. He is good. He CAN win! #standwithrand #voteforrand

Posted by Vote for Rand on Saturday, January 23, 2016

While innovative digital strategy has been a major focus, CAV is also mobilizing voters they’ve identified, making sure they have all of the information needed to participate in their caucus. Frazee shared an example of the bright-colored mailers they’re sending. These are expected to land in the mailboxes of Paul supporting voters this week.

While the Iowa caucus is less than a week away and is where CAV has spent a lot of their energy, the group is also looking ahead to New Hampshire and Nevada. They’re targeting voters both on the ground and through a digital strategy in the two key early states as well, and have the resources to carry on as needed.

“Everything [CAV] has done has been very data driven. We’ve made sure to check our own intuitions and opinions at the door, and let the data tell us what messaging is strongest and what’s resonating with voters,” said Frazee.

Rand Paul will be on the main stage in Thursday’s Republican debate

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

The last Republican debate before the Iowa caucus is Thursday and Rand Paul will be on the stage according to hosts Fox News, who made the announcement Tuesday evening.

A series of recent polls placed Paul solidly in the top five within Iowa, ahead of Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, and Chris Christie.

The Hill reported, “The Kentucky senator was essentially a lock to fall short of two prongs of Fox News’s criteria — polling within the top six in an average of five national polls or top five in the average of recent New Hampshire polls.”

“But he pulled ahead of Jeb Bush in Iowa in the four consecutive polls released before Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline, punching his ticket for Thursday’s main event,” noted The Hill.

This news comes in the wake of Paul’s exclusion from the last GOP debate. A Des Moines Register poll published just after the timeframe used to determine eligibility confirmed he is running a top-tier campaign. That poll however, wasn’t counted due to its late release. Paul was relegated to the “undercard” debate, which he skipped.

As Rare reported, Paul may have benefitted by choosing to boycott the lower-tier preshow. Media appearances focused on Paul’s exclusion were viewed by 15 million people. The Fox Business debate was seen by 11 million, and the undercard debate he boycotted only had 2 million viewers.

Leading up to Fox’s announcement about Thursday’s debate, Paul’s campaign was confident that recent polls reflected his top-tier status and that he would be included. As Business Insider reported, Paul’s chief strategist Doug Stafford tweeted a link to a Quinnipiac poll showing his rising status with the remark, “See y’all in Iowa.”

Paul’s campaign manager Chip Englander also expressed confidence on Twitter, noting that the most recent polls were better news for Paul and Bush.

In anticipation of the good news, Paul’s team spent the days before tonight’s announcement promoting the fact that Paul no doubt qualified for the debate; it was just a matter of waiting for Fox’s official announcement.

Thursday’s debate will air on Fox News at 9PM ET.

Many doctors are getting around Obamacare by helping patients directly

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

The alleged goal of Obamacare was to increase the amount of people who have health insurance. It instead created a problem: While more people are covered (millions after the plans they had were banned), insurance is more expensive overall, and has not correlated with increased access to care.

High deductibles (the amount of money a patient has to provide out of pocket before insurance starts paying) have rendered many insurance plans essentially unusable for working and middle class Americans.

While this is a negative development – and speaks to the cronyism inherent in government and insurance companies colluding with each other – a silver lining has appeared as a market response to this chaos.

Many doctors are starting to open cash-only practices where insurance isn’t accepted. This can provide patients with a high-quality, affordable alternative for access to basic care.

As Kathleen McGrory reported for the Tampa Bay Times, many doctors are moving toward a direct primary care model, with 400 now providing basic services for cash payments since Obamacare was enacted. This allows doctors and patients to work with each other absent the nefarious government-insurance complex middleman.

McGrory highlighted the story of a doctor named Trinette Moss, whose cash-only practice in Clearwater, Florida is thriving. Wrote McGrory, “Billing at [Moss’] office works like this: Patients between 18 and 49 years old pay $60 a month. The fee covers unlimited office visits, urgent care services and an annual physical. It costs $15 a month to add a child.”

“Moss says the model, known as direct primary care, makes financial sense. She doesn’t have to hire anyone to file and track insurance claims. And she collects enough in monthly fees to keep her practice small.” Eliminating the bureaucratic barrier that so often divides doctors and patients? That sure sounds good to a lot of consumers, especially in the age of high deductibles and co-pays.

In Florida, legislators have taken notice of Moss and doctors like her, and want to accommodate this direct primary care model. As McGrory explained, “Lawmakers are considering a proposal (HB 37/SB 132) that would ensure direct primary-care providers don’t run afoul of state insurance laws, paving the way for more doctors to contract directly with patients.”

The fact that laws making it difficult for doctors and patients to contract directly exist in first place is a telling problem. Advocates of freeing the healthcare market have long noted that the regulatory maze around insurance and access to care has put consumers at a disadvantage. How can a person shop for the most cost effective services – and how can competition drive those costs down – when the government has essentially banned a market all together?

While the direct primary care model is far from a solution to the overall corporatist mess of Obamacare, it’s an instructive innovation; a response to the fact that the government has so distorted the market that it’s time to get back to basics. When paired with a catastrophic insurance plan, direct care can make sense.

The trouble however, is that it doesn’t on its own, satisfy the requirements of Obamacare’s individual mandate, which can fine you thousands of dollars, depending on your income, if you don’t have health insurance.

Overall, direct access to a doctor without the drama of government bureaucracy and insurance is a good thing. As Dr. Moss said, “It just seems like this is the right thing to do. You can help everyone from waitresses making minimum wage to executives, and be more accessible to them all.”

If only the government would allow more direct competition rather than the crony prototype it’s relied on through Obamacare, there could be more of a market in healthcare overall. But small pockets of innovation are always welcome amid the central planning.

Hopefully, more state governments will follow Florida and work to accommodate this model.