NDN Blog

Ad Wars: "Better Off"

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama today rolled out a new TV ad on the economy, entitled "Better Off." Watch it here:

Senator Obama's emphasis on helping the middle class prosper and alleviating the struggle of every day people seems to be resonating with voters. E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post notes that, despite persistent assertions from U.S. Sen John McCain's campaign that Obama's tax plan is "socialist" and that he wants to "spread wealth around," a recent Pew poll found that "50 percent of registered voters questioned in mid-October thought Obama would do the best job in 'dealing with taxes,' compared with only 35 percent who said that of McCain. Back in September, Obama also led, but more modestly, 44 percent to 39 percent." 

Furthermore, a new Pew poll today finds that almost 40% of voters believe McCain would do "too much for the wealthy" if elected president. It seems that, Republican base voters aside, most Americans are simply not buying the argument that anything more progressive than Bush's economic policies constitutes "socialism" (heck, just ask real socialists). 

Friday Buzz: Good VIBEs and Good Press

The new VIBE Magazine hit shelves this week. For the first time in its 15-year history, VIBE endorsed a candidate this month. Simon is quoted in the cover story, "The Tipping Point," about the historic implications of the rise of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

Simon's also provided analysis of the election in the Independent, Reuters (and subsequently on Michael Moore's blog), and in two Featured Posts on the Huffington Post (here and here). His election commentary also aired on radio stations across the country, and he was featured on WAMU's "Power Breakfast": you can listen to the segment here:

Finally, Rob was quoted in a big story in the New York Times and the International Herald-Tribune about the Treasury backing the consolidation of banks, and Michael had a featured post about dealing with climate change in a troubled economy in the Huffington Post's Green section. 

Thursday New Tools Feature: TXT 2 GOTV

A new study released yesterday from the New Voters Project and CREEDO Mobile found that "text message reminders sent to young voters on Super Tuesday increased turnout by 4.6 percentage points among the targeted population." This means that text messaging is by far the most cost-effective GOTV technique:

Tactic Mobilization
/ Vote Generated
4-5% $1.56
Phone Calls
4-5% $20
7-9% ~$30
Leafletting 1.2% $32
~0.6% $67

The bang-for-the-buck factor makes texting an attractive option for political campaigns. However, campaigns are not the only ones using texts to get out the vote; a number of voter groups, including the New Voters Project, are running GOTV text campaigns. CREEDO Mobile has also set up a Web site, textoutthevote.com, which lets you add the mobile numbers of your friends and family and then automatically sends them a customized reminder to vote on election day - give it a try, it's easy and free.

As this study shows, mobile technology is becoming an increasingly powerful force in the politics of the 21st century. To learn more about using SMS messaging effectively, be sure to read our New Politics Institute's New Tools paper, Go Mobile Now. Texting has already had a real, measurable effect in this election cycle, and will be critical to getting out key voting blocs on election day, but the true potential of mobile-powered politics has yet to be tapped.

Ad Wars: Barney Smith Is Back

Following up on his popular appearance at the Democratic National Convention, Barney Smith makes a triumphant return in this new ad for US Sen. Barack Obama:


Look to see this ad in heavy rotation; with his record-shattering $150 million haul from September, Obama now has about $500 million to spend between now and the election, to McCain's approximately $50 million, meaning that Obama could outspend him by as much as 10 to 1 in the days leading up to the election. 

Pallin' around with Palin

Even though she may not consider it a "pro-America" part of the country, Governor Sarah Palin made her way to New York City yesterday to tape an episode of Saturday Night Live. Check out both of her skits here:

Friday Buzz: Dissecting the Debate, Parsing the Polls, and More

As the campaign season enters the final weeks, NDN continues to break through in the media. After the third and final presidential debate, reporter Dan Balz quoted Simon in the Washington Post. From the article:

Democrat Simon Rosenberg said he thought McCain was aggressive and combative, but he did not think it would be enough to change the race. "In the last few weeks, the American people have learned a lot about these two senators. In Senator Obama, they've decided they see a future president. In Senator McCain, they see an admirable but aging politician who seems a little out of step with the moment."

On the Huffington Post blog and in Reuters, Simon also offered some excellent analysis of what may lie ahead in the election.

NDN also remained an important voice on the economy and dealing with the financial crisis; Rob was quoted in the Philadelphia Enquirer, and had this excellent quote in the Washington Times

Running up the deficit, through new spending, tax cuts or both, is exactly what a declining economy needs, at least in the short term, the analysts said.

"Definitely in the short term, the policy should be to spend and not worry about the impact on the deficit," said Rob Shapiro, who was a top economic adviser to President Clinton and a specialist in globalization at the center-left NDN think tank.

"Certainly that's the policy you should be following in the face of a deep recession, when there's not a lot of downside risk from inflation."

Finally, Simon was quoted about immigration reform and the Hispanic vote in the San Francisco Chronicle, Bloomberg, and Hispanic Trending,  Andres talked about the importance of the Hispanic electorate in the Latino Journal and La Presna San Diego, and our recent immigration poll of battleground states was featured in a diary on DailyKos.  

A Question for Senator McCain

There is one question I would have liked to see asked at last night’s debate. “Senator McCain, would you agree to sit down without preconditions and meet with…the Dramatic Chipmunk?”

I imagine the epic encounter would look something like this:


Thursday New Tools Feature: The Revolution Will Be Televised

In Tracy's post today, she includes this powerful ad that aired after the presidential debate last night:

The ad was created through a service called SaysMe.tv. Here is the description of the service from their site:

SaysMe.tv is a website that gives individuals the opportunity to use TV to make an enormous difference in their politics, in their local community... and beyond. The 2008 election is just around the corner and the Internet has enabled bloggers of every affiliation to become as powerful in political circles as candidates, journalists and pundits. SaysMe.tv wants to further empower citizens by letting them make their voices heard on TV as well as the Internet. Sign up for SaysMe.tv, choose an ad featuring your candidate or issue of choice, select a network, and personalize your ad. With just a few simple clicks, you can put an ad on TV! Then you can distribute or embed your personalized ads anywhere on the Internet.

I think this may have been the most emotionally effective ad I've seen in this entire election cycle, and it was created by an ordinary person with a video camera. I think that is a truly amazing thing, and a real vindication and confirmation of what we've been saying about Reimagining Video and the End of Broadcast. This is truly people-powered politics at its best.

Plumber Story Springs More Leaks

As I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, Joe the Plumber is a registered Republican and McCain supporter, who in fact would qualify for a tax cut under Obama's plan, does not pay his taxes anyway, and is not even a certified plumber

But that is the least of what's wrong with the Joe the Plumber narrative. Let's listen to Joe in his own words:

But to -- just because you work a little harder to have a little bit more money taken from you, I mean, that's scary. You know as opposed to other people. I worked hard for it. Why should I be taxed more than other people?

The basic assumption here is that hard work = more pay, and that therefore if people aren't making enough money, they simply aren't working hard enough - Joe works hard "as opposed to other people." This is the absolute granddaddy of all conservative fallacies; for years, Americans' productivity has continued to rise, while their real wages have stagnated or fallen - nearly all of the benefits of our GDP growth have gone to the rich. Many Americans are working just as hard and are still struggling just to get by, which is why I have less sympathy for Joe. 

And what of this idea that with hard work, a person can climb the ladder to wealth? As Paul Krugman points out in "The Death of Horatio Alger," upward mobility in America is largely a thing of the past:

It is true, however, that America was once a place of substantial intergenerational mobility: Sons often did much better than their fathers. A classic 1978 survey found that among adult men whose fathers were in the bottom 25 percent of the population as ranked by social and economic status, 23 percent had made it into the top 25 percent. In other words, during the first thirty years or so after World War II, the American dream of upward mobility was a real experience for many people.

Now for the shocker: The Business Week piece cites a new survey of today's adult men, which finds that this number has dropped to only 10 percent. That is, over the past generation upward mobility has fallen drastically. Very few children of the lower class are making their way to even moderate affluence. This goes along with other studies indicating that rags-to-riches stories have become vanishingly rare, and that the correlation between fathers' and sons' incomes has risen in recent decades. In modern America, it seems, you're quite likely to stay in the social and economic class into which you were born.

As Governor Palin might put it, "Say it ain't so, Joe!"

UPDATE: Joe the Plumber "does not believe in Social Security." Maybe that's why he doesn't pay his taxes.

Why the Plumber Story Doesn't Hold Water

As Melissa just pointed out, the star of last night's debate was Joe the Plumber (who does not hold a plumbing license, makes less than $250,000 a year and has not paid his taxes anyway, rendering the whole argument utterly moot). US Sen. John McCain brought Joe up in order to paint US Sen. Barack Obama's tax plan as class warfare - he accused Obama of wanting to take Joe the Plumber's wealth and spread it around (although in liberally-biased "reality," it turns out that Joe would actually receive a tax cut under Obama's plan), and repeatedly asked why Obama would want to raise taxes on anyone in these difficult times. McCain even asserted that there could be no possible justification for Obama's tax plan.

Really, Senator McCain? How's this for a start; Obama's tax plan does nothing more than to partially (and not even completely) reverse Bush's tax policy. Under the Bush tax cuts, which Senator McCain supports and wants to extend, the bottom 20% of earners got 1% of the tax cuts, while the top 1% got a whopping 33%. The top 5% got almost 50% of the tax cuts.

This isn't just a problem of fairness, as Joe Biden argued in the vice-presidential debate (although this question of fairness in our tax structure certainly merits a more sustained philosophical discussion). It also happens to be bad economics; because lower and middle-income people have a higher marginal propensity to consume, more of the money that goes to them in tax cuts goes back into our economy, resulting in a larger multiplier effect and a greater increase in aggregate demand. This, of course, is simple common sense; give tax breaks to the people that actually NEED them, not the top 1% who are already making an average of $13+ millon a year.

The growing inequality in our country is making our economy increasingly unstable and our current form of government untenable and unsustainable. But don't just take my word for it: ask the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, Paul Krugman. In a fantastic piece from 2003 in the New York Times Magazine entitled "The Tax-Cut Con", Mr. Krugman laid out a prescient analysis of where the Bush economic policies would lead us. It turned out that he was right, yet Senator McCain continues to espouse the same flawed and discredited economic arguments. It is high time that progressives pushed back, hard. At the end of this must-read article, Krugman says this:

The astonishing political success of the antitax crusade has, more or less deliberately, set the United States up for a fiscal crisis. How we respond to that crisis will determine what kind of country we become.

If Grover Norquist is right -- and he has been right about a lot -- the coming crisis will allow conservatives to move the nation a long way back toward the kind of limited government we had before Franklin Roosevelt. Lack of revenue, he says, will make it possible for conservative politicians -- in the name of fiscal necessity -- to dismantle immensely popular government programs that would otherwise have been untouchable.

In Norquist's vision, America a couple of decades from now will be a place in which elderly people make up a disproportionate share of the poor, as they did before Social Security. It will also be a country in which even middle-class elderly Americans are, in many cases, unable to afford expensive medical procedures or prescription drugs and in which poor Americans generally go without even basic health care. And it may well be a place in which only those who can afford expensive private schools can give their children a decent education.

But as Governor Riley of Alabama reminds us, that's a choice, not a necessity. The tax-cut crusade has created a situation in which something must give. But what gives -- whether we decide that the New Deal and the Great Society must go or that taxes aren't such a bad thing after all -- is up to us. The American people must decide what kind of a country we want to be.

Syndicate content