Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Who They Are

Democratic pollster Doug Schoen does some polling which pulls back the mask on the Occupy Wall Street protests and shows that the folks in the streets are either deluded or disingenuous when they claim to represent the 99% of people in the country who are not super-rich. The fact is, evidently, they represent the 1% who reside on the radical left of the ideological spectrum. Here's Schoen:
President Obama and the Democratic leadership are making a critical error in embracing the Occupy Wall Street movement—and it may cost them the 2012 election. Last week, senior White House adviser David Plouffe said that "the protests you're seeing are the same conversations people are having in living rooms and kitchens all across America. . . . People are frustrated by an economy that does not reward hard work and responsibility, where Wall Street and Main Street don't seem to play by the same set of rules." Nancy Pelosi and others have echoed the message.

Yet the Occupy Wall Street movement reflects values that are dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people—and particularly with swing voters who are largely independent and have been trending away from the president since the debate over health-care reform.

The protesters have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies. On Oct. 10 and 11, Arielle Alter Confino, a senior researcher at my polling firm, interviewed nearly 200 protesters in New York's Zuccotti Park. Our findings probably represent the first systematic random sample of Occupy Wall Street opinion.

Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn't represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.

What binds a large majority of the protesters together—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or education—is a deep commitment to left-wing policies: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas.
Schoen gives the data which support these conclusions in his column at the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Obama and Ms Pelosi have embraced OWS because they share the protestors' worldview. Most people in this country don't.

Paul Is Looking Better

I've not been a fan of Ron Paul, mostly because I think his foreign policy ideas are unrealistic, but his plans for getting us out of the financial morass we're in appear to be the most realistic of anyone's campaigning for the presidency, certainly more realistic than those of the incumbent, whatever they are this week. Politico has some nuts and bolts:
The Texas congressman laid out a budget blueprint for deep and far-reaching cuts to federal spending, including the elimination of five Cabinet-level departments and the drawdown of American troops fighting overseas.

There’s even a symbolic readjustment of the president’s salary to put it in line with the average American salary.

“Our debt is too big, our government is too big, and we have to recognize how serious the problem is,” Paul said during an afternoon speech in Las Vegas ahead of Tuesday’s GOP debate there.

The plan, Paul said, would cut $1 trillion in spending his first year in the White House and create a balanced federal budget by the third year of his presidency.

Many of the ideas in Paul’s 11-page Plan to Restore America are familiar from his staunch libertarianism, as well as tea party favorites, like eliminating the Education and Energy Departments. But Paul goes further, proposing an immediate freeze on spending by numerous government agencies at levels from 2006, the last time Republicans had complete control of the federal budget, and drastic reductions in spending elsewhere.

The Environmental Protection Agency would see a 30 percent cut; the Food and Drug Administration would see a 40 percent cut; and foreign aid would be zeroed out immediately. He’d also take an ax to Pentagon funding for wars.

Appearing on CNN ahead of the speech, Paul was pressed by Wolf Blitzer on how eliminating about 221,000 government jobs across five cabinet departments would boost the economy. He responded: “They’re not productive jobs,” he said.

“You cut government spending, that money goes back to you. You get to spend the money,” Paul said during his speech. “I am absolutely convinced it is the only road to prosperity.”

Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, family support programs and the children’s nutrition program would be block-granted to the states and removed from the mandatory spending column of the federal budget. Some functions of eliminated departments, such as Pell Grants, would be continued elsewhere in the federal bureaucracy.

And in a noticeable nod to seniors during an election year, when Social Security’s become an issue within the Republican presidential primaries, the campaign says that plan “honors our promise to our seniors and veterans, while allowing young workers to opt out.”

The federal workforce would be reduced by 10 percent, and the president’s pay would be cut from $400,000 to $39,336 — a level that the Paul document notes is “approximately equal to the median personal income of the American worker.”

Paul would also make far-reaching changes to federal tax policy, reducing the top corporate income tax rate to 15 percent, eliminating capital gains and dividends taxes and allowing for repatriation of overseas capital without tax penalties. All tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush would be extended.

And like the rest of his GOP rivals, Paul would repeal President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, along with the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform law enacted last year. A longtime Federal Reserve critic, Paul would also push a full audit of the central bank, as well as legislation to “strengthen the dollar and stabilize inflation.”
Cuts like these, especially a premature military drawdown, would certainly be risky and painful in the short term, but the alternative of allowing deficit spending and debt to drive us into the abyss of insolvency is far worse. Sometimes painful, risky surgery is required in order to save a patient. If our children and grandchildren are to have any kind of future we have to stop our addiction to spending money we don't have and realize that we can't just do everything we'd like to do.

My biggest concern with Paul's proposal is what he means by cutting funding for wars. I'd like to know exactly what he means by that, and I'd like to know why no one is calling for oil-rich countries like Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E who want us to stay in the region as a shield against Iran aren't being required to foot the bill.

At any rate, I hope that someone in the field who stands a better chance of winning the nomination than Paul does will adopt and champion his ideas.