Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hannity's "Winning" Agenda

Sean Hannity is one of the bigger dipsh*ts on the air. Even before talk radio turned poisonous and stupid, Sean was out there spewing nonsense. Yesterday, he started his show by blasting the evil Republicans for surrendering and collaborating blah blah, as usual. Then, in the midst of his verbal diarrhea, he suddenly mentioned that he has an agenda for 2014. I thought I’d take a look. First, let me say that I do give him credit for not just listing abortion, gays and Mexicans as his brethren do. That said, his agenda is crap. Check this out.

Hannity starts by chest pounding about his view of why reel America exists and what the constitution means. Having actually studied the document and how it has been implement, I can tell you that Hannity’s view has never been true. I doubt he cares. Having riled up his reel ‘merkican listeners for an America that never was, he strikes with six areas he thinks are important:
The Economy
Term Limits
This isn’t the worst start I’ve seen, but notice a couple things. There is no mention of jobs. As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, the public no longer connects “the economy” with jobs, so right away this will not send a warm fuzzy. Similarly, where is there any obvious mention of protecting my pension, saving my house which is underwater on its loan, unrigging the stock market, protecting Main Street from Wall Street, or saving my butt from student loans? Where is consumer protection? Environmental protection? How about civil liberties, protection of privacy, not getting droned as I drive to work? And if order of listing approximates importance, will mothers be thrilled to see that education falls below “term limits” in importance?

Anyway, that’s just an initial thought that only arises because due to prior stupidity, conservatives have lost the trust of the public, so they get less time to sell their ideas. That means you need to show the public right away that you are offering something different. At first glance, this REEKS of more of the same. Now let’s look at the details:

The Economy: Here come the jobs, right?! No. After considerable amounts of doomsdayism, in which Hannity assures us that the nation is on the verge of collapse because of various boogeymen and that we are now a nation of leeches, Hannity proposes paying off the federal deficit in six years by cutting spending 0.01%. Then he proposes following this up with a Balanced Budget Amendment.

Oy. First, his math is nonsense and his numbers are bogus. So this whole thing opens with a fraud. Also, if you really could pay off the debt with a “one penny cut,” doesn’t that expose the doomsdayism as bullsh*t? More to the point though, why should the public care about this? The public cares about jobs. This plan won’t generate a single new job. If anything, people will be worried it will kill jobs.

...and the public tunes out.

As for the Balanced Budget Amendment, it takes only seconds to see how pointless that is. Budgets are about projections and you can get around any amendment with phony projections. In fact, states have been making a mockery of this for years. Not to mention, “balanced” does not mean less spending, it can just as easily mean higher taxes. Also, this idea is unconstitutional (a document Hannity should read someday), and there is no conceivable way a court could enforce this. This is a delusion.

Finally, he proposes creating a percentage limit on any individual’s tax liability. Not only will this be seen as conservatives again sucking up to the rich, but Hannity doesn’t even offer a percentage – he hints at 35% or 40%.

That’s it. There’s no mention of jobs. There’s no plan to make employees cheaper, to raise incomes, to let people keep more of what they earn, to spark innovation, or to protect your assets or your house or your pension. Basically, Hannity is pandering to budget wonks and millionaires.

...and the public tunes out.

Healthcare: Hannity has a simple plan: let everyone have a health savings account, which they can then use to pay for concierge medicine! Woo hoo! Only, everyone can already have a health savings account and that doesn’t solve ANY of the problems that made the public see a healthcare crisis: cost, access or quality.

Moreover, the problem with concierge medicine is that it only works at the general practitioner level. It doesn’t do jack for you if you incur the big ticket items like cancer or heart attacks... the things the public worries about.

...and the public tunes out.

Energy: Energy. Huh. No, the public’s not screaming about the cost of energy. In fact, no one’s really talking about it and it rates really low on the issues that matter to voters... 11th. Let’s see what Hannity says, shall we?

First, he rails against environmentalists. ...and the public tunes out.

Next, he tells us that we could be out producing Saudi Arabia in terms of oil and gas if the Democrats would let us. And that states that are currently drilling for oil and gas have slightly lower unemployment. Ergo, we drill.

Ok, for starters, we already out produce Saudi Arabia. It happened a couple weeks ago – in BOTH oil and gas. Secondly, the drilling states he talks about have lower unemployment because they tend to be sparsely populated and they are importing workers. Third, this is happening without any help from Washington, so what exactly does Hannity think he’s going to add to the mix? More importantly though, why should average people care? Unless you’re in the oil or gas industry, this won’t create a job for you and no one is screaming about the cost of energy right now. This may be a good thing, but it’s hardly something voters will care about.

...and the public shrugs their shoulders.

Term Limits: WTF? This is so typical of “conservative” thinking: tinkering with the procedures. There is nothing substantive here and the public doesn’t care.

...and the public tunes out.

Immigration: This is interesting. For about a week, Hannity supported immigration reform. Then he got smeared as a RINO and he raced back into the cult. What he does here is cite to the completely discredited Heritage Foundation report to tell us why we shouldn’t allow illegals (or any immigrants actually) into our country. Then he quasi-asserts a link between 9/11 and our unsecure borders. He then concludes that we need to protect our borders... and whatever we do after that is up to you. Interesting. It sounds like Hannity actually understands that you can’t deport 11 million people but he doesn’t have the guts to say it to his listeners.

In any event, close to 70% of the public wants immigration reform and Hannity’s proposal here is to adopt the tactic conservatives used to try to stop immigration reform. That's a non-starter.

...and the public tunes out.

Education: Here’s Hannity’s final shot to reach someone outside of his base. What does he propose? School choice.

...and the public tunes out.

See, the problem with school choice is this. Conservatives have been so hell bent on smearing and destroying public education at every turn that when they say “school choice,” it comes across as a tool meant to deprive public schools of funding and the best students. However, the vast majority of parents like the public schools. They want solutions to make those schools better, and “school choice” does nothing in that regard.

Fortunately, the GOP is making real strides improving public education and creating a school choice system within the public schools. But that’s not what Hannity is selling.

So what do we have here? Well, Hannity creates an agenda that fails to address a single issue that would appeal beyond his own talk radio base. He offers nothing to improve anything the middle class cares about. He wastes his time talking about procedures, proposing solutions that have been repeatedly rejected, and pandering to the wealthy. And he doesn’t even come close to overcoming the lack of trust conservatives have earned on these issues. Think about this the next time he criticizes the GOP... or offers to sell you his book.


Kit said...

Andrew, the imposition of Term Limits is the most important issue facing this country!

Tennessee Jed said...

sorry Andrew, but I tuned out on Hannity a long time ago. To my credit, I did read the entire article. To me, the one issue that trumps all others is JOB CREATION, and the kind that creates meaninful, somewhat sustainable, private sector jobs. Fix this and everything else improves. I am anxious to read the new book about the rigging of Wall Street by volume traders with super computers. What I want government to do is regulate Wall Street and corporate America in a way to ensure competition, and to try and find a way to educate more Americans to qualify for skilled jobs.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, LOL! Yes, right after making sure that Senators get chosen by state legislatures. Why, those two things will cure all of our problems forever!!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I want the same thing you do exactly!

Job creation is the end all and be all of politics. If you can get people good jobs with steady rises in income, then they don't care what else you do. But if you can't do that, then they will turn on you every time. So at the very least, you need to tell them that you have a plan to get them all good jobs.

This is actually something that both sides fail on. The difference is that the left talks about jobs now and then, whereas the right only talks about growth. Moreover, the right comes across as obsessed with punishing the unemployed, which isn't a good thing to be when there are no jobs.

Volume trading and super computers are a serious problem. I've read studies that they account for most trades and the majority of movement in the market (up or down) and that they are sufficiently large to move the market... something no investor should be able to do. I've also read many times that they are not really trading so much as arbitraging other trades, which means they're basically taking away profit from other traders. I also know that the NYSE has actually given some firms some advantages by letting them pay to put their computers in the building so they get the data a second or so faster than everyone else -- which is forever to a machine. That all needs to be examined. If people can't trust the fairness of the exchange, then they feel the system is rigged and it all falls apart.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, the Supreme Court has struck down the limits on campaign contributions by individuals. That's a good thing.

AndrewPrice said...

FYI, the book Jed is referring to is "Flash Boys" - LINK.

It alleges that the market is rigged by high frequency traders.

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

Why is that a good thing? (Don't spend too much time on that!)

As for the article, as an Independent, my fear is that Republicans sweep in November and consider it some sort of mandate. "Americans have proven they're sick of Obama - so now we can do what we want!"

"And that brings us right back to where we were," to quote Groucho Marx. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, With Obama in the White House, they won't get anything they want either.

On your point though, the real problem remains that the Republicans haven't yet put together an agenda to convince people like you that they want to make your world better. Until they do that, all they continue to stand for is ending sex and deporting Mexicans.

It's a good thing because the government should not be in the business of deciding who gets to use their money to support political candidates. Right now, the system is set up in such a way that only people who can afford lawyers to tell them how to do it can really contribute much to candidates -- basically, you need to know how to set up a PAC. That means that rich people, big corporations, unions, and other organizations dedicated to politics are doing all the funding. Eliminating the cap on individuals allows candidates to benefit from middle and upper-middle class people, who are currently excluded.

Essentially, this lets anyone be relevant.

Anthony said...


I think the campaign finance ruling doesn't change anything meaningful but doesn't help the middle class or even the upper middle class.

The per cycle limit was 123K and that is a heck of a lot of money. Nobody anywhere close to the middle class (the median household income is only 50K) is bumping up against such a limit.

Realistically, an ordinary guy telling a politician 'I voted for you and I want to bend your ear' isn't going to get much more than a form letter from an intern thanking him for his interest, but a guy who kicks out big sums of money will get a personal audience and follow-up ('Here is what we did to address your issue!').

*Shrugs* That kind of sucks, but it is not something that can be legislated away. The rich always can find a way to reward backers no matter what the law says ('Does your wife need a job? Do you have a favorite charity? Do you have any political allies that need financial help?).

There are activist groups on the right and the left which want to break the connection between wealth and influence, but I suspect most people believe that there is nothing that can be done. Politicians will always tell the public one thing and tell their big backers another behind closed doors and give them access and do them favors.

No matter what Obama or Romney said previously or subsequently in public, people took their derisive words to their fat cat donors about certain categories of people as their true thinking.

*Cough* Rant over.

Interestingly, the limit on contributions to an individual candidate still stands for the moment (raising that would probably make things easier for the middle class and upper middle class, since its only $2600) but I don't think that limit is long for this world.

The major ruling, which was hailed by Republican congressional leaders as a First Amendment victory, removes the cap on contributions, which was set at $123,200 for 2014. It does not change limits, though, on individual contributions for president or Congress, currently set at $2,600 per election.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I thought this eliminated the limits? That's what the article I read said. If that's wrong (which is possible), then I agree with you (I haven't looked it up myself). Changing the cap doesn't change anything... changing the stupid $2,600 limit would, as it excludes everyone but the well connected and the organized.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, it seems Anthony is correct, though you would never know it listeninng to the liberal justices or the MSM. Justice Bryer stated that this decision "eviscerates our nation’s campaign finance laws" which seems to be the favorite pull quote of the hour. Some stinker on NPR even declared this the end of democracy. As it is, it strikes me as the sort of decision which typify the Roberts court: mealy half-rulings that please no one.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Anthony is correct and the article I saw was wrong. Actually, there seems to have been a lot of confusion about this. The radio news switched from describing it as "candidate contribution limit" to "cumulative contribution cap" around 4 this afternoon.

El Gordo said...

Conservatives often make the mistake of talking about means, not ends. Nothing wrong with that except it is bad salesmanship. You don´t sell razors by talking about machines or logistics. You talk about a smooth shave. You need a clear benefit. Instead we often get something like this:

Democrat Airlines: "Go to Hawaii! Free drinks! Sun and Fun!"
Republican Airlines: "We must conquer gravity!"

Deregulation, growth, free markets, cheap energy, all of that is extremely important ... once you are in power. But they are not benefits. What is a benefit? Jobs. Why? Because nothing empowers you more than the knowledge that you can always find a job. Freedom is the ability to say "take this job and shove it" and not lose a night´s sleep over it. Worth more than a thousand unions.

Why not put it in these terms?

Of course it doesn´t hurt to have a plan that makes sense to people. But how many voters really compare all those five or nine point plans for this and that?

Hannity or Rush are not running for office. They just serve their audience. Though even their audience won´t buy the thing about concierge medicine fixing a brain tumor.

AndrewPrice said...

El Gordo, Very true. It's process over substance again. Every time the Republicans speak, they talk about process rather than outcome. The problem is that process is at best neutral and typically is pretty negative. It also leaves the public with no idea what you really want except to rough up some people.

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