The Sequester Game is "OVER-RATED"

Washington, DC
 

OVER-RATED *clap* *clap* *clap clap clap*

It’s all a game in Washington – a very overrated one. Just like in basketball, baseball or pretty much any sport, numbers don’t lie. Unless the people twisting them to back-up their point of view are.

No one will deny that the arbitrary spending cuts that Washington self-imposed on the nation are at best, an inconvenience. Slicing $85 billion dollars for 7 months worth of the year is no joke, but President Obama has all but predicted an economic catastrophe.

But that’s where the numbers tell a different story. $85 billion dollars is only about a 2-3% cut in the Federal budget. If it were an average American making $40,000 a year, it would mean about an $1,000 decrease in pay. Well, that doesn’t sound insignificant! But what if you were a millionaire or billionaire? Would $20,000 of your $1 million salary seem like much to you? If you were dealing with trillions? Mere pocket change.

The PR war is underway – and the Democrats are winning. But should they? President Obama has made it abundantly clear the impacts he expects from the Sequester. Travel delays from poorly funded Air Traffic Controllers, fewer government jobs – the White House has even announced that spring tours of the national symbol will no longer be available. That’ s just to name a few. The picture that has been painted looks grim.

But, is The White House guilty of political gamesmanship? Evidence of air traffic delays had been non-existent in the 3+ days up until the “Snowquester” on the East Coast. The day the Sequester took place, an order for new TSA uniforms was placed for over $50 million. 400 new Defense related job postings were uploaded on Day 2 of Sequester, and Spring Tours of the White House have traditionally been done by non-paid volunteers. Guilty? As charged.

Both sides are guilty of their own gamesmanship. Republicans have seemingly refused to negotiate with Democratic leaders. But can you blame them? Republicans in the House are responsible to their constituencies, who want to see spending cuts. Democrats like Nancy Pelosi have denied any need for any spending cuts or entitlement reforms.

No one will say that spending cuts are easy – and they’re certainly not popular. Scarcity is a basic economic principle that the U.S. government has recently ignored. If the current national debt were broken up and distributed evenly amongst the population, you and I would each owe over $55,000 each. Entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all within about 10 years of insolvency. Young people are wondering why they have to pay the bills for a benefit they will certainly not enjoy under current circumstances.

Democrats have a vested interest in playing the blame game here – and they’re winning. About 40% of people in a recent Pew Poll said that they would primarily blame the Republicans for the Sequester, compared to just 20% for Democrats. Far from a majority, but it points to the media/PR war in Washington. Democrats know that if they can point enough fingers, that winning back the House in 2014 will be that much easier.

So what does all this mean? Well so far, the economy has barely noticed the on-set of spending cuts. While tax and entitlement reform, in addition to modest cuts to discretionary spending seem like a balanced idea, neither side will come out of their corners to deal. So long as the Sequester that Obama set up to look like the apocalypse is barely noticed, Republicans will stay where they are – happy that they could cut SOME spending, somehow.

What’s most ironic about the whole situation is that both parties are saying the same thing. The Sequester isn’t a good idea – yet, it was Obama’s bill that got us here. It’s a Congressman’s job to represent his or her District. A guy like John Boehner must stay true to his constituents. Sure, he’s the Speaker of the House, but his ultimate responsibility is to his people, most of whom are Republican. Same goes for Paul Ryan in Wisconsin or Aaron Schock in Illinois. Paging David Price… What’s your position?

The Sequester so far is a snoozer. Only, it had the hype of a March Madness match-up. In the stands, watching close by, it feels like a blow out so far. The hype is OVER-RATED.

I’m not writing to endorse the Republicans or the Democrats. Perhaps I’m here to try and strike a balance in the finger pointing that the Democrats are by all measures, winning. I AM writing to encourage both sides to get something done. I’m also encouraging anyone out there reading this to have a more critical eye on what’s being sold in the media – the blame should fall squarely between each party.

In between the two parties? Well that’s you President Obama. Perhaps you should stop accusing Republicans of playing the political game until you do the same. Step off the soap box, roll up the sleeves and moderate a healthy, balanced conversation that reaches a moderate solution: close tax loopholes, trim spending and reforms entitlements. Otherwise, I feel you too are OVER-RATED.

Ryan Watts is a Chapel Hill native and recent UNC graduate in Political Science and Business Administration. Now living in Washington DC, he works as a Consultant. You can find him on Twitter @RyanVWatts or at his blog.

image by paul-w via flickr

http://chapelboro.com/columns/hill-to-hill/the-sequester-game-is-over-rated/

The Sequester Game is "OVER-RATED"

Washington, DC
 

OVER-RATED *clap* *clap* *clap clap clap*

It’s all a game in Washington – a very overrated one. Just like in basketball, baseball or pretty much any sport, numbers don’t lie. Unless the people twisting them to back-up their point of view are.

No one will deny that the arbitrary spending cuts that Washington self-imposed on the nation are at best, an inconvenience. Slicing $85 billion dollars for 7 months worth of the year is no joke, but President Obama has all but predicted an economic catastrophe.

But that’s where the numbers tell a different story. $85 billion dollars is only about a 2-3% cut in the Federal budget. If it were an average American making $40,000 a year, it would mean about an $1,000 decrease in pay. Well, that doesn’t sound insignificant! But what if you were a millionaire or billionaire? Would $20,000 of your $1 million salary seem like much to you? If you were dealing with trillions? Mere pocket change.

The PR war is underway – and the Democrats are winning. But should they? President Obama has made it abundantly clear the impacts he expects from the Sequester. Travel delays from poorly funded Air Traffic Controllers, fewer government jobs – the White House has even announced that spring tours of the national symbol will no longer be available. That’ s just to name a few. The picture that has been painted looks grim.

But, is The White House guilty of political gamesmanship? Evidence of air traffic delays had been non-existent in the 3+ days up until the “Snowquester” on the East Coast. The day the Sequester took place, an order for new TSA uniforms was placed for over $50 million. 400 new Defense related job postings were uploaded on Day 2 of Sequester, and Spring Tours of the White House have traditionally been done by non-paid volunteers. Guilty? As charged.

Both sides are guilty of their own gamesmanship. Republicans have seemingly refused to negotiate with Democratic leaders. But can you blame them? Republicans in the House are responsible to their constituencies, who want to see spending cuts. Democrats like Nancy Pelosi have denied any need for any spending cuts or entitlement reforms.

No one will say that spending cuts are easy – and they’re certainly not popular. Scarcity is a basic economic principle that the U.S. government has recently ignored. If the current national debt were broken up and distributed evenly amongst the population, you and I would each owe over $55,000 each. Entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all within about 10 years of insolvency. Young people are wondering why they have to pay the bills for a benefit they will certainly not enjoy under current circumstances.

Democrats have a vested interest in playing the blame game here – and they’re winning. About 40% of people in a recent Pew Poll said that they would primarily blame the Republicans for the Sequester, compared to just 20% for Democrats. Far from a majority, but it points to the media/PR war in Washington. Democrats know that if they can point enough fingers, that winning back the House in 2014 will be that much easier.

So what does all this mean? Well so far, the economy has barely noticed the on-set of spending cuts. While tax and entitlement reform, in addition to modest cuts to discretionary spending seem like a balanced idea, neither side will come out of their corners to deal. So long as the Sequester that Obama set up to look like the apocalypse is barely noticed, Republicans will stay where they are – happy that they could cut SOME spending, somehow.

What’s most ironic about the whole situation is that both parties are saying the same thing. The Sequester isn’t a good idea – yet, it was Obama’s bill that got us here. It’s a Congressman’s job to represent his or her District. A guy like John Boehner must stay true to his constituents. Sure, he’s the Speaker of the House, but his ultimate responsibility is to his people, most of whom are Republican. Same goes for Paul Ryan in Wisconsin or Aaron Schock in Illinois. Paging David Price… What’s your position?

The Sequester so far is a snoozer. Only, it had the hype of a March Madness match-up. In the stands, watching close by, it feels like a blow out so far. The hype is OVER-RATED.

I’m not writing to endorse the Republicans or the Democrats. Perhaps I’m here to try and strike a balance in the finger pointing that the Democrats are by all measures, winning. I AM writing to encourage both sides to get something done. I’m also encouraging anyone out there reading this to have a more critical eye on what’s being sold in the media – the blame should fall squarely between each party.

In between the two parties? Well that’s you President Obama. Perhaps you should stop accusing Republicans of playing the political game until you do the same. Step off the soap box, roll up the sleeves and moderate a healthy, balanced conversation that reaches a moderate solution: close tax loopholes, trim spending and reforms entitlements. Otherwise, I feel you too are OVER-RATED.

Ryan Watts is a Chapel Hill native and recent UNC graduate in Political Science and Business Administration. Now living in Washington DC, he works as a Consultant. You can find him on Twitter @RyanVWatts or at his blog.

image by paul-w via flickr

http://chapelboro.com/columns/hill-to-hill/the-sequester-game-is-over-rated-2/

Quick Hits Around Washington

Washington, DC
 

– Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, didn’t take long to cause a commotion once out of office. Her office released hillaryclintonoffice.com causing rumors predicting a 2016 run to gain further traction. The new site, launched January 30th, is undergoing further development, though it is worth noting that hillaryclinton.com now forwards to this new URL.

– New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been making the media rounds this week, appearing on David Letterman’s The Tonight Show on Monday night, drawing praise from the notoriously liberal, Letterman, for his wonderful work in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Christie, who has been critical of his own party’s leadership, has recently become a very vocal voice for bi-partisanship and is now an overwhelming favorite to be re-elected to the same office in 2013. When asked if he would run for President in 2016, Christie said that when he last polled his family, it was 6 votes to none for NOT running. He plans to re-evaluate their stance moving forward.

– The Wall Street Journal published an article on Kansas Governor, Sam Brownback, and his “Red-State Model” that he hopes will generate momentum for the party in future years. With the stable of appealing candidates is in short supply, Brownback hopes that his state’s success of slashing the budget (and taxes), weaning people off entitlements and the ensuing strong jobs record will move people to the economic right. Meanwhile, states like North Carolina are likely headed in a similar policy direction, according to Brownback.

– Barack Obama continues his dual-threat ground game this week in Minneapolis (on Monday) as he pushes for greater gun control measures. Obama was in Nevada last week to launch his immigration reform push. Both issues are hot topics in North Carolina. 41.3% of North Carolina households self-reported having a gun in 2012, while 25% of NC’s population growth in the last 20 years can be attributed to Latinos (according to the NC Governor’s office).

Have a question about what’s going on in Washington? Let us know.

 

Ryan Watts is a Chapel Hill native and recent UNC graduate in Political Science and Business Administration. Now living in Washington DC, he works as a Consultant. You can find him on Twitter @RyanVWatts or at his blog.

image by paul-w via flickr

http://chapelboro.com/columns/hill-to-hill/quick-hits-around-washington/

What to Watch For in Obama's Second Term

Washington, DC

An estimated 900,000 people showed up to the area surrounding the National Mall, Capitol Building and Pennsylvania Avenue to watch President Barack Obama take his public oath of office on Monday.

Per Constitutional rules requiring the new President to be sworn in on January 20th, Obama took his official oath on Sunday in the Oval Office. Several key Congressional players were also invited to partake in the ceremony. Sources have indicated that Mr. Obama took the opportunity to reset the playing field for his new term by “starting fresh.”

What’s on the docket for Obama’s second term? What should North Carolinians be on the watch for the next four years?

1. Gun Control

Following the tragic events in Aurora, Colorado & Newtown, the calling for greater gun control measures has escalated across the country. Unfortunately, like most things in politics, there is far from a consensus. Following rumors of greater gun control measures, the NRA saw a huge spike in membership, averaging 8,000 new members a day since the Newtown tragedy.

While gun control is a microcosm of the political division in America, there does seem to be a consensus that America’s problems in this regard are bigger than guns and point to a larger cultural issue. Obama’s recent proposals relating to the topic seem to want to address the broader crisis, including studying the role of the media in violence.

North Carolina will continue to be an indicator of the nation’s thought process moving forward. As a traditionally Southern and diverse swing state, the blend of ideology in North Carolina will result in a struggle for control in the debate, and will likely serve as an indicator of the overall sentiment of the nation. It is unlikely that the Republican controlled State legislature will make significant changes like New York enacted last week, and thus, any anti-gun advocates will have to look to Washington for changes in NC.

Lastly, it will be worth eyeing how Obama’s administration navigates the issues it will be sure to face with the Supreme Court in passing any gun legislation as it pertains to the 2nd Amendment. Obama and the nine justices have not seen completely eye-to-eye since Obama was first inaugurated in 2009.

2. Addressing ‘Failure’ From the First Term

Americans have been highly critical of Obama’s first term. Policy Mic released an article on Monday discussing the outlook to address Obama’s failures in his first term. While Obamacare passed under duress, there were more misses than ‘makes’ and the administration has acknowledged its shortcomings. “Change” and “Forward” have been the go-to sayings for Obama and he will look to leave a more significant mark in term number two.

During his second inaugural speech, he noted that addressing climate change would be a priority, acknowledging that “the path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.” And in a historical moment, Obama advocated for equal rights for “our gay brothers and sisters,” which was one of, if not the first time “gay” has been used by a President in a public address. Perhaps just as significant was the stage set for same-sex rights. Obama placed his comments regarding gay marriage directly adjacent to his comments on women’s rights and his equal pay for equal work initiatives. Analysts suggested that it was a calculated move by the Obama camp to put the two on level footing, demonstrating the importance Obama places on gay rights. These two issues look to be two that Obama will add to the leftovers from his first term agenda.

North Carolina will be in the cross-hairs of both topics in addition to many others. RTP’s prowess in the sciences field could see increased government dollars for research and development towards alternative energy. And the passing of Amendment One will stand in stark contrast to Obama’s desire to level the playing field for all genders, races and orientations.

3. The American Debt Ceiling

Last but certainly not least is the looming debt ceiling and exponentially growing national debt. Organizations like The Can Kicks Back are organizing to raise awareness about the consequences of the growing debt issue. The U.S. government spends almost 7 million dollars per minute per CBS news, a number that far surpasses any historical record high.

As leaders in Washington suggest temporarily raising the debt ceiling so as to avoid short-term economic catastrophe, a longer term plan must be developed that is generationally balanced to cut the deficit and, in turn, the debt. In the coming decades, interest payments on the debt will grow to over 50% of the federal budget, with debt exceeding 100% of annual GDP without significant action.

The government has kicked the can down the road for far too long and has shown little regard for controlling spending. With the temporary fiscal cliff ‘fix’ in December of 2012 to raise revenues, it will now be time to slice spending.

Long-term, this is an issue of immense importance and must be dealt with. The success or failure of Obama as a President from a historical perspective could be dependent on how he deals with this issue.

With Inauguration Weekend winding to a close, the 113th Congress will be sworn in and the approaching debt ceiling will come back into focus. Obama will have to hit the ground running to ensure the economic recovery remains on track and address his broad agenda.

Ryan Watts is a Chapel Hill native and recent UNC graduate in Political Science and Business Administration. Now living in Washington DC, he works as a Consultant. You can find him on Twitter @RyanVWatts or at his blog.

image by paul-w via flickr

http://chapelboro.com/columns/hill-to-hill/what-to-watch-for-in-obamas-second-term/

Chapelboro to Washington

Chapelboro to Washington: Introduction

I grew up in Chapel Hill, attended Ephesus Elementary, Phillips Middle, East Chapel Hill and really broke out of the box by attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. What I came to realize is that the old saying of Chapel Hill being a “bubble” is certainly true. While you can be as in-touch or out of touch with the world ‘outside the bubble’ as you would like, living in Chapel Hill seems to shelter its residents from the harsher realities of the outside world.

The University setting allows for a more predictable economy, a steadier employment rate, better than average housing market and much more. It’s the benefit of living in the ‘bubble.’ But as I’ve come to find out, the bubble surely has its drawbacks.

Leaving Chapel Hill has been an eye-opener to say the least. The scope of my problems has expanded and having taken a full-time job in doing so, I’ve also come to see that the harsh reality of the ‘real world’ is, at least in my opinion, underestimated given my previous shelter. Having popped the bubble, I moved to Washington DC and I picked a heck of a time to do it.

Being politically consciousness most of my life, it occurred to me while watching the debates, the election, the debate on the fiscal cliff and so much more, that bearing witness to it outside of the ‘bubble’ is a radically different experience.

In fact, it’s frightening.

The benefit of the ‘bubble’ is that it affords us some benefit, providing sense of safety, a nurturing environment and an escape from those harsher realities. Yet, in a town with so many gifted people, it can also be an escape or way to avoid engaging those problems head on.

As a Chapel Hillian, I have seen so many difference makers and would love to see more realize their potential in areas of need: policy, charity and so much more.

In this column, “Chapelboro to Washington,” I hope to connect those at home with important topics at a nationwide level and make them meaningful to a local audience. I may bust some people’s bubbles, but I hope to write about things that are meaningful in order to engage everyone more.

Ryan Watts is a Chapel Hill native and recent UNC graduate in Political Science and Business Administration. Now living in Washington DC, he works as a Consultant. You can find him on Twitter @RyanVWatts or at his blog.

image by paul-w via flickr

http://chapelboro.com/columns/hill-to-hill/chapelboro-to-washington/

Continue While Remembering

On Wednesday, September 12, 2001, Ms. Hall, a 6th grade Social Studies teacher at Phillips Middle School, gave her students an assignment:  

Pretend to be the President of the United States and write a letter to America.

It was a brilliant assignment – a wonderful way to help these eleven year olds (and their parents) think about, talk about and attempt to understand the events of the previous day and what they meant to us – as individuals, as families and as a country. Here is the letter my son wrote that day.


Dear America,

As you have, I have been watching the news feeling so sad and so angry.

Much has been said of bombing them right back. However, we do not want to provoke the Afghanistan people to bounce back and hit us. As well, we do not want to start a war between the US haters and us. However, we would win, it would come with loss of both our barracks as well as theirs.

Right now we just need to bump up security in all places, especially in airports as well as in our very own households. This is not to make you scared, but to make you aware and ready.

Now we also have to mourn for the victims, their families and friends.

A nation so great, humbleness can do nothing in this case because greatness shows on the outside. We will continue to be strong and loyal to our country.

We must continue life because life can’t go on without closure and the only way to have closure for this tragedy is to continue while remembering.

Ryan Watts
President of the United States of America
September 12, 2001



Remembering has never been hard.  None of us will ever forget.
Figuring out how to continue has been a mighty challenge for many.

I re-visit and share this letter each year, as a way of honoring the victims of this tragedy and their loved ones.   

And as a way of thanking all who have helped the survivors cope and continue.  

Whether they be firefighters on the scene that day, 
or caregivers who have nursed survivors back to health, 
or teachers (like Ms. Hall) of children who witnessed the horror from far away -
we will not forget all who did their work so well
and helped us do as Ryan urged us to do in his letter to America,
“to continue while remembering”.

Who and what has helped you continue while remembering?

Note: Ishna Hall is now Associate Director of Capital Gifts at UNC-Chapel Hill. Ryan graduated from Carolina in May and now lives in Washington, DC.

 
http://chapelboro.com/columns/good-business/continue-while-remembering-2/

Tips from Mayor Bloomberg

What a beautiful day and a beautiful graduation ceremony in Kenan Stadium on Sunday.
                       

Congratulations to all involved (more…)

http://chapelboro.com/columns/good-business/tips-from-mayor-bloomberg/

Continue While Remembering

On Wednesday, September 12, 2001, Ms. Hall, a 6th grade Social Studies teacher at Phillips Middle School, gave her students an assignment:  

Pretend to be the President of the United States and write a letter to America.

It was a brilliant assignment – a wonderful way to help these eleven year olds (and their parents) think about, talk about and attempt to understand the events of the previous day and what they meant to us – as individuals, as families and as a country. Here is the letter my son wrote that day.


Dear America,

As you have, I have been watching the news feeling so sad and so angry.

Much has been said of bombing them right back. However, we do not want to provoke the Afghanistan people to bounce back and hit us. As well, we do not want to start a war between the US haters and us. However, we would win, it would come with loss of both our barracks as well as theirs.

Right now we just need to bump up security in all places, especially in airports as well as in our very own households. This is not to make you scared, but to make you aware and ready.

Now we also have to mourn for the victims, their families and friends.

A nation so great, humbleness can do nothing in this case because greatness shows on the outside. We will continue to be strong and loyal to our country.

We must continue life because life can’t go on without closure and the only way to have closure for this tragedy is to continue while remembering.

Ryan Watts
President of the United States of America
September 12, 2001



Remembering has never been hard.  None of us will ever forget.
Figuring out how to continue has been a mighty challenge for many.

I re-visit and share this letter each year, as a way of honoring the victims of this tragedy and their loved ones.   

And as a way of thanking all who have helped the survivors cope and continue.  

Whether they be firefighters on the scene that day, 
or caregivers who have nursed survivors back to health, 
or teachers (like Ms. Hall) of children who witnessed the horror from far away –
we will not forget all who did their work so well
and helped us do as Ryan urged us to do in his letter to America,
“to continue while remembering”.

Will you share?   Who and what has helped you continue while remembering?

Note:     Ms. Hall is now Associate Director of Capital Gifts for Carolina’s Arts & Sciences Foundation.  Ryan is now a Senior at Carolina. 

Related Material:  Remembering 9/11 – 10 Years Later

http://chapelboro.com/columns/good-business/continue-while-remembering/

Welcome to Notre Dame

Click here to listen, read below, or both!

A few years ago,  Art, Ryan and I went to South Bend, Indiana for the Carolina/ Notre Dame game.

 
When we checked into our hotel, the desk clerk said, “Welcome to Notre Dame”.
 
We went out to eat and the hostess said, ” Welcome to Notre Dame.”
 
The parking lot attendant at the game greeted us with, “Welcome to Notre Dame.”
 
Volunteers manning the crosswalks said, “Welcome to Notre Dame.” 
 
Workers in the campus bookstore and the students selling hotdogs said, “Welcome to Notre Dame.”
 
It was a simple message. Delivered consistently and sincerely.  And it was quite impressive. 
 
I left there wishing visitors got the same reception at Carolina.
 
Our first football game is on Saturday against James Madison University, which is in Harrisonburg, Virginia.     

Let’s greet their fans – the JMU Dukes in purple and gold – with a smile and a warm “Welcome to Carolina”.   If you run a business in town, ask your staff members to do the same.  Put up signs that say Welcome JMU Fans.
 

This is a great opportunity for us to show real southern hospitality – for us to make Chapel Hill an even more special place to visit.
 
If that’s not reason enough for you… a carload of fans drove in from Virginia last year, saw two restaurants across from each other and chose the one with a sign on the door that said, “Welcome Virginia Tech fans”. 

To the manager they said, “We weren’t sure we’d be welcome here at all. It was nice to see your sign.”

Wonderful!  They had just  gotten in to town and already felt welcome to Carolina!

 See Also:  Opportunity to Boost Business:  10 Ideas for Game Week Strategy


 

Ready-to-print signs: 

Welcome JMU Fans

Go Heels

For best results:

  • set “Preferences” to “landscape”.
  • print and cut in half as shown by cut lines.
  • print on white paper, preferably recycled.
  • print in color.
  • print responsibly.

Problems with link to JMU signs? Try this.

Problems with link to Go Heels signs? Try this.

Welcome signs for future games are available at:  SignsForGameDay.biz

See Also:  Opportunity to Boost Business:  10 Ideas for Game Week Strategy

http://chapelboro.com/columns/good-business/welcome-to-notre-dame/