Obama Policy Committee Member Wonders ‘Where is Outrage?’ About Education

Our very own Candace Gwaltney recently scribed an interesting piece in BizVoice about former Wabash College grad and now Washington D.C. attorney/school choice advocate Kevin Chavous. In the article, Chavous offers evident outrage over the current state of public education, explaining 40% of all fourth graders in the U.S. are not reading at grade level, and students attending public high schools in urban areas have less than a 65% chance of graduating (way less, in many cases).

But for politicos, what you might find most interesting are the political ramifications of school choice and how it could change the shape of the left/right paradigm as we know it:

Chavous, who has served on president-elect Barack Obama’s education policy committee, says national reform can occur with bipartisan efforts locally and nationally. “That’s a challenge because the traditional Democratic, union-led education policy folks, some of which are on that policy committee as well, clearly are going to be resistant to some of the radical change that needs to happen in education.”

He notes Obama is a strong supporter of charter schools and in the last presidential debate “he didn’t pound the table on vouchers.” Chavous predicts Obama will “come to support all forms of parent choice,” which will cause a shift in the Democratic Party.

“The way forward in terms of parental choice is bipartisanship,” Chavous emphasizes. “And there are members of your (Indiana) legislature on the other side of the aisle who will be a part of this.” 

For more, read the article.

Least Impressive Inauguration Speeches in American History

Yahoo! News ran an interesting article today (linked on Huffington Post) featuring some of the worst inauguration speeches presidents have ever made. Let’s hope President Obama can avoid this list. I found Thomas Jefferson’s to be most interesting, mainly because of the caustic nature in which he went after the media (some things are timeless):

After a soaring first address in 1801, Thomas Jefferson was reelected and offered a sophomore effort that was an angry, monotone dud, historians say. Bitter at the "licentious" media and four years of attacks on his administration, the president was on the defensive and not as his inspirational best:

"During this course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science, are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness, and to sap its safety; they might, indeed, have been corrected by the wholesome punishments reserved and provided by the laws of the several States against falsehood and defamation; but public duties more urgent press on the time of public servants, and the offenders have therefore been left to find their punishment in the public indignation."

Can anyone else not pronounce "licentious?" I keep saying "licenshish." Anyway…

The worst likely remains William Henry Harrison’s (described in the article), whose 8,000-word address in the dead of winter may have ended up killing him. Now that’s a rough speech.

Advice for Obama: How to Really Cut Spending

The Heritage Foundation’s Brian M. Riedl and Alison Acosta Fraser offer advice to President-elect Obama regarding how he can keep his promise to issue a "net spending cut." The authors point out that most incoming presidents promise to do so, yet fail when it comes time to make tough choices. They write:

The American people have repeatedly expressed exasperation at the pork, runaway spending, and budget deficits that have plagued Washington during this decade. You were elected President on the promise of fiscal responsibility and a "net spending cut." Scaling back planned "stimulus" spending that would likely fail to help the economy would be a strong first step toward fulfilling your promise. Reforming Social Security and Medicare before more of the 77 million baby boomers begin to collect benefits is also imperative.

The writers also offer some key tips (they’re in bullet points so you know they mean business). Here are a few:

  • Define "net spending cut"
  • Cut farm subsidies
  • Reform entitlement programs
  • Devolve more programs to state and local governments
  • Use PAYGO to prevent expensive new entitlements

U.S. Chamber Praises Obama’s Economic Team

It’s early on in the Cabinet building process, but thus far the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is actually supportive of President-elect Obama’s economic team — or at least a few of the appointments. Only time will tell if Obama’s policies will reflect this apparent centricism (centristness? centricity? centristocity?) or if it will span his entire term. But for the time being, Thomas J. Donohue, president/CEO of the nation’s largest business advocate, isn’t hating the guy:

This team brings a wealth of knowledge to Washington and an understanding that any sustainable economic recovery will involve the business sector.

Tim Geithner has a deep understanding of our capital markets and the experience and credibility to tackle our nation’s biggest challenge—restoring our economy and rebuilding our financial markets.  He has been directly engaged in all the steps taken so far to address this unprecedented crisis and is well qualified to lead the Treasury Department.

Larry Summers’ knowledge of economic issues and past experience as Treasury secretary will serve President Obama well.  Likewise, Christina Romer and Melody Barnes will bring an understanding that any sustainable economic recovery will involve the business sector.

Ball State, Obama and Football

Some family, friends and co-workers are getting sick of hearing me talk about it. Instead (or in addition to), I’ll write about it, try to come up with a way to justify it being in this space and move on — for the time being.

It is Ball State University football, the magical 11-0 season (entering Tuesday night’s regular season finale at home against Western Michigan) and where its bowl destination might be. OK, I know it’s not the Golden Domers back in their glory days, the IU hoops (see back in glory days reference, although I believe they will return to prominence in a few years under Tom Crean) or Purdue’s Rube Goldberg contest dynasty, but give us Cardinal fans a break.

Even if the Cardinals go 13-0 (a conference championship game in Detroit awaits if, and only if, a Tuesday win is recorded), the BSU faithful are looking at a return to Detroit the day after Christmas (bowl games are supposed to be a reward, aren’t they), Toronto (nothing against the Canadians, but I’m not anticipating sunny weather up north on the third day of 2009) or Mobile (better, but no New Orleans, Phoenix or south Florida).

Ball State won’t be going to one of the grander destinations because that appears reserved for Utah or Boise State, which also fall in the non-Big Boy category of college football and its allotment of "only one of you gets to come to our season-ending party."

What’s the solution? Don’t know. What’s next? Hope for three more wins, 14-0, more publicity for the university and increased alumni donations (now there’s a business angle).

Or how about this justification: president-elect Barack Obama stirred the pot the night before the election by championing a college football playoff and repeating the wish in his recent "60 Minutes" interview. If the future world leader can take time to examine the college football postseason structure, why can’t I?

Go Cardinals!

The Obama Administration and Health Care

Stuart M. Butler of the Heritage Foundation recently scribed a piece called "Think Small," outlining what President Obama must do regarding health care strategy. He stresses the following key points, but I recommend reading the column in full:

1. Make a strong commitment to bipartisanship (don’t be like Bill Clinton).

2. Rather than finding new money to spend during these tough economic times, he should find ways to more efficiently spend the money we are already allocating toward this.

3. Allow the states flexibility to redesign existing health care programs and use the money more efficiently to reach the goal of maximizing affordable coverage.

4. Remember that Americans are very conservative about their health care. Those with coverage are extremely nervous about changing what they already have.

Behind the Numbers: How New Voters Put Obama on Top in Indiana

Here is one giant reason why and how Barack Obama won Indiana — new voters. 13% of voters this year were first time voters participating in their first election. Among this group, Obama beat McCain 67% to 32%. This very lopsided number resulted in Obama beating McCain in Indiana by a total of 125,671 among new voters. Obama won Indiana by just 26,012 votes. His advantage for newly registered voters was enormous.

There were 525,314 total newly registered voters in Indiana this election and 67.8% of those voted. This turnout percentage was higher than the overall turnout percentage of 60.8% (for voting age population, not registered voters). For registered voters, the turnout was 63.4%. Clearly, newly registered voters were more interested and voted in a higher percentage than already registered voters.

What does this prove? Most importantly, it proves that a far superior ground game driven by a superior registration drive can — and will — work, resulting in Indiana voting for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1964. Obviously, there were many other reasons why Obama won Indiana, but this is one very significant reason why.

2008 marked the first election in a number of years that any political party or candidate made truly serious efforts to grow the electorate — and these efforts paid off in a big way for the President-elect. Future candidates, from any political party, better spend considerable time and effort on these newly registered voters and make serious efforts to increase the electorate with like-minded voters if they want success in the future. 

This certainly goes for the business community, too!

Note: You can also find our updated Election Report here.

Watch Gingrich’s Annual Dinner Keynote Address

Newt Gingrich keynoted the Indiana Chamber’s 19th Annual Awards Dinner on November 6.

During his address, Gingrich moved freely about the stage and seemed quite comfortable, eloquently assessing the 2008 election. He was also quite complimentary of President-elect Obama, the Hoosier state and Gov. Mitch Daniels, with whom he’d worked during Daniels’ tenure at the White House Office of Management and Budget. In fact, the two had the opportunity to meet for 10 minutes before Gingrich took the stage.

The entire keynote address is now available to view on Gingrich’s web site.

Communicating Change in Obama’s White House

PR Junkie has a pretty interesting post up today about the Obama administration and its communication strategy. Like me, many Americans are anxious to see if the administration holds true to its campaign promise of government transparency. 

This article contends the administration itself is communicating the transition and possibly circumventing the print media altogether:

So does Obama’s popularity and promise of change mean a return to print readership in America? Maybe inside corporations, but not among the general population. In fact, it seems an Obama administration may bury print newspapers.

The same day Torr’s article ran on Ragan.com, The Washington Post published a story about the Obama administration’s plans for reaching around the media to communicate with citizens.

“Obama aides and allies are preparing a major expansion of the White House communications operation, enabling them to reach out directly to the supporters they have collected over 21 months without having to go through the mainstream media,” The Washington Post reported …

Kennedy invigorated and solidified TV as a medium; Obama will do the same for Web 2.0. If you haven’t already, check out his transition Web site, Change.gov. Among the many features is a blog, constantly updated newsroom, information on the growing list of appointees and, perhaps most importantly, an online suggestion box.

To see the Obama transition team’s blog, visit it here.

Gingrich Offers Analysis, Praise for Obama and Daniels at Annual Dinner

With nearly 1,200 in attendance at the Convention Center in Indianapolis last night, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich offered his thoughts on the 2008 election. The Evansville Courier Press has the story:

Gingrich described the historic sweep of Obama’s election as not just the first black candidate elected president, but a son of an immigrant as well. "He brings to bear all the great American traditions, that people can come from anywhere and become American and learn the American system and be integrated into the pursuit of happiness," Gingrich said.

Obama’s rise from an Illinois state senator to U.S. senator to 44th president within the space of four years didn’t happen by accident or luck, Gingrich said. "This is a person who is stunningly disciplined — not just that he is bright, but he is a very disciplined, methodical person."

Gingrich said Obama’s victory and gains made by congressional Democrats were the results of "a failure crisis" by President Bush’s administration and congressional Republicans over their handling of the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina and federal spending. "I think the Republican Party is struggling to get beyond incompetence," contended Gingrich, who in the mid-1990s was the nation’s highest-ranking Republican elected official. "In my mind, this was a performance election, not an ideological election," he told the Indiana business leaders.