Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Prediction for the 2016 Iowa Caucus

It's been an exciting and close presidential campaign. Tomorrow, the state of Iowa will be first to decide who the Republican and Democratic nominees will be. The debates are over and the candidates are doing everything possible to get undecided voters. Money is being spent on ads at the last minute while rallies are held to energize supporters. The question on everyone's minds: who wins the Iowa caucus tomorrow?

I'm going to start with the Democrats because I think predicting their race is easier. Let's take a look at the RealClearPolitics average for the Democrats in Iowa:

DM Register/Bloomberg (1/26-1/29): Clinton 45%, Sanders 42%, O'Malley 3% - Clinton +3
NBC/WSJ/Marist (1/24-1/26): Clinton 48%, Sanders 45%, O'Malley 3% - Clinton +3
Public Policy Polling (1/26-1/27): Clinton 48%, Sanders 40%, O'Malley 7% - Clinton +8
Gravis Marketing (1/26-1/27): Clinton 53%, Sanders 42%, O'Malley 5% - Clinton +11
Monmouth University (1/23-1/26): Clinton 47%, Sanders 42%, O'Malley 6% - Clinton +5
American Research Group (1/21-1/24): Sanders 48%, Clinton 45%, O'Malley 3% - Sanders +3
Quinnipiac University (1/18-1/24): Sanders 49%, Clinton 45%, O'Malley 4% - Sanders +4

The average has Hillary Clinton leading with 47.3 percent, Bernie Sanders with 44 percent, and Martin O'Malley with 4.4 percent. She has a narrow lead of 3.3 percent. As with every polling average, it's important to disregard the oldest polls. The Quinnipiac and ARG polls are not as reliable because they are dated. The most reliable polls are the most recent. The basis of my analysis and prediction is going to be the highly accurate DM Register/Bloomberg poll. Historically, this poll run by Ann Selzer has almost always been correct in its prediction. In fact, the only time she has been wrong was in 2012 when Mitt Romney was polled in the lead. The real winner of the Iowa caucus was Rick Santorum, but it was a very, very narrow victory. I trust her polls because she has a good record, but that doesn't mean she's right with everything (I'll address that when I get to the Republican race because it is not relevant here).

The other reason I think Clinton will win the Iowa caucus regards ground game. Primaries and caucuses test how disciplined and organized a presidential campaign is. Clinton's political machine is one of the best in the country. As for Sanders, his campaign is good, but not that good. He is aware that Barack Obama won big in 2008 because of ground game, which is what he's trying to repeat. The problem with Sanders is that his campaign ground game is not Obama's. This isn't his fault because he's just using the limited resources available. He has 23 field offices in Iowa, but Obama had 37 when he won in 2008. Sanders is focusing on heavily populated areas in the state (like Dubuque and Black Hawk), but Obama had his field offices spread out in metropolitan and suburban areas. There are whole parts of the state where Sanders has not invested his campaign. Personal contact matters with voters and it will cost Sanders. Clinton has 26 field offices, which is slightly more than what Sanders has.

Clinton has a consistent lead in the polls and she has better campaign outreach. For those two reasons, I pick her to win the Democratic Iowa caucus in 2016 over Sanders and Martin O'Malley. I think the results will look something like this:

Hillary Clinton - 49.2%
Bernie Sanders - 46.3%
Martin O'Malley - 4.4%
Write-ins - 0.1%

Now it's time to decipher what's going to happen in the tight and confusing Republican race. It's a race between two anti-establishment titans. Whoever wins will probably become the standard bearer of the insurgent forces. Here's a look at the RCP average:

DM Register/Bloomberg (1/26-1/29): Trump 28%, Cruz 23%, Rubio 15% - Trump +5
Public Policy Polling (1/26-1/27): Trump 31%, Cruz 23%, Rubio 14% - Trump +8
Gravis Marketing (1/26-1/27): Trump 31%, Cruz 27%, Rubio 13% - Trump +4
NBC/WSJ/Marist (1/24-1/26): Trump 32%, Cruz 25%, Rubio 18% - Trump +7
Monmouth University (1/23-1/26): Trump 30%, Cruz 23%, Rubio 16% - Trump +7

The average has Donald Trump with 30.4 percent, Ted Cruz with 24.2 percent, Marco Rubio with 15.2 percent, and Ben Carson with 8.8 percent. Every poll shows Trump in the lead consistently, so let's go to the DM Register/Bloomberg poll for the analysis. Trump's lead against Cruz can be considered comfortable, but there's still a lot of confusion in this race. One of the biggest problems with Selzer's polls are that they tend to underperform some candidates. Usually these candidates tend to be Christian conservatives like Santorum and Pat Robertson (1988 Iowa caucus). There's the potential for that to happen again with Cruz. Rubio could also be off because he has momentum. That means he could be drawing more supporters as we speak after the poll was conducted. While Trump is ahead, there's nothing wrong with considering Cruz as a winner (Rubio is unlikely).

What about ground game? This is very frustrating because analysts know nothing about the Trump campaign's organization and size. They have repeatedly denied requests from the media to look into campaign offices. Even so, I'm sure he has a sizable campaign and loads of supporters who are working for him. I think Cruz and Rubio have better campaign organization than Trump does, but what he does have are loyal supporters who are willing to go out and vote for him.

In the Republican caucus demographics will matter and 2012 can tell us some things about 2016. Rubio will probably perform best where Romney did in the state, while we can expect Cruz to win counties won by Rick Santorum (who isn't going to win) and Ron Paul. That means he has a combination of social conservatives and libertarians supporting him. Trump is unpredictable, but I expect him to be fighting for the same counties Cruz is. Finally, I want to address strategic voting. I think strategic voters will play a very important role in the caucus. Remember that these are the people who will not vote for their first preference if they think their second choice can defeat the main opponent. According to the poll, 17 percent of people interviewed said that Cruz was their second choice while Rubio had 20 percent. Trump only had 7 percent. There are people who are undecided and there are people who currently support other candidates that will vote strategically. We just don't know how many will break for Rubio and Cruz.

I'm very unsure of myself with this prediction more than any other I have made so far in the short time I've been blogging, but I do think it's more likely that Trump will underperform and Cruz will be underestimated. It will be very close and I think the results will look roughly like this:

Ted Cruz - 26.6%
Donald Trump - 26.2%
Marco Rubio - 17.8%
Ben Carson - 8.5%
Others - 20.8%
Write-ins - 0.1%

I'm not going to predict every single candidate, but this is what I do expect of the top four. It means a statistical tie, but it also hurts Trump because he wants to appear as undefeated. As for Rubio, he's looking to at least get over 15 percent. He probably knows that he isn't going to win tomorrow unless by a huge stroke of luck, but he wants the establishment to support him. A strong showing makes the case that Rubio is the candidate to take out Cruz and Trump. A poor showing means that donors will probably move to John Kasich in New Hampshire. Overall, tomorrow will be a very exciting night.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


While American politics are going to heat up this year, British politics are expected to do same. Before the end of 2017, the British people will go to the polls to vote on whether they want to stay in the European Union. The debate over the benefits of the United Kingdom's membership in EU has been rising in recent years and will reach a peak in 2016 and 2017. The battle over British membership and the future of the country's foreign relations is crucial. It could be said that this debate is new, but British history shows that something like this was going to happen.

The British have always been a people that pride their independence. The famous patriotic song "Rule Britannia!" from 1740 includes at the end of each section:
Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
Britain hasn't suffered from a successful invasion since the Glorious Revolution of 1688 by the Dutch Republic. It has remained strong in the face of fierce opponents. Napoleon Bonaparte's plans for a French invasion of the island failed after a decisive defeat off the cape of Trafalgar in 1805. In the midst of World War II, the British mounted powerful resistance against Adolf Hitler's German war machine. Prime Minister Winston Churchill was correct when he remarked that it would be Britain's finest hour. Against the odds, the British fought bravely for their principles of freedom, western civilization, Judeo-Christian values, and the rights of nations.

The days of a great empire on which the sun never set are over, but the British can still be nationalistic. World War II changed the scope of nationalism in Europe, but the British held a unique position in the war. After the fall of France, it was the only country left that stood against Nazi tyranny until Operation Barbarossa. They were there from the beginning to the end. The Royal Navy ultimately triumphed and defeated key enemy warships like the Bismarck and the Graf Spee. The blitz could not shake the resolve of the British people. In North Africa, Bernard Montgomery triumphed over Erwin Rommel at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942. Nationalism spearheaded by Churchill kept morale high. Britain was a victor and a lighthouse that cut through the darkness. For these reasons, Britain's nationalism was going to remain.

Immediately after World War II, nationalism in Britain did collapse as a result of the victory's consequences. Cities were ruined from bombings and the economy was in disarray. The victory was a sacrifice as it led to the fall of British military might and decolonization. Britain permanently became a junior partner in the Cold War. The United States was now leading the charge of capitalism and democracy. British nationalism only returned towards the end of the century.

The most dominant political figure in British post-World War II history was Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher's legacy is still alive in both the national and international spheres. She played an important role by guiding the UK's relationship with Europe. She helped British integration in Europe and also helped the rise of the nationalist movement. Thatcher was a nationalist politician who did believe that Britain was a great country, but while she's known for being a Eurosceptic that doesn't mean she wasn't always against more integration. In a 1975 referendum, Thatcher supported continuing British membership in the European Economic Community. As leader of the Conservative Party, her support was essential in winning the referendum. With both the opposition Conservatives and the governing Labour Party advocating for continued membership, it was clear where the electorate would sway. Two-thirds of the country voted "yes" for being a member.

The European Economic Community stood for free trade and greater economic cooperation. These were policies that Thatcher could get behind. However, after winning the 1979 general election, she noticed that her neighbors on the continent were not just interested in economic liberalization. During her time as prime minister, Europe moved toward creating a political union with a multinational legislature and a new single currency. Thatcher wouldn't stand for this and became an opponent of joining any kind of union with the rest of the continent. Some of her most famous debate moments against Labour Party officials were about the power of the EU, which she felt threatened the power of Parliament:

The Iron Lady succeeded when battling Argentines in the Falklands and trade unions on strike, but the issue over the EU bitterly damaged her party. With divisions between Thatcherites and moderate "wets" growing, Thatcher resigned in 1990. Her successor, John Major, was more moderate and entered the European Union with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. In order to keep the Conservatives united, Major was able to ensure that the British would not adopt the euro and some continental laws.

Fast forward to 2016 and there's growing anxiety over the European Union in Britain. Some of Major's concessions have been overtaken due to pressing international affairs. Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron was able to win a surprise victory on election night by keeping the Conservative Party united (for the most part). One of his campaign promises was that the British people would be able to decide if they wanted to stay in the EU through a referendum. He's certainly going to hold it because breaking his promise would be catastrophically foolish. This referendum is about the rise of the UK Independence Party led by Nigel Farage. Farage may not be an MP and UKIP only has one seat in Parliament, but he has made the party a formidable political force. In 2010 over 900,000 people voted for UKIP, but in 2015 that number was 3.88 million.

Cameron is currently working on a deal to give the UK more concessions and opt-outs as a member of the European Union. Some of his main arguments include ensuring that the British won't have to contribute to Eurozone bailouts, reducing the number of EU economic regulations that hinder British growth, and preventing further political integration. One of the biggest concerns is the migration crisis. Many Brits dislike EU migration laws and want to stop their country from taking so many Syrians. Cameron clearly wants Britain to stay in the EU, but the likelihood of a deal being made remains slim. The EU has said that a renegotiation is not at the top of their agenda at the moment due to other problems (probably having to deal with the influx of refugees themselves). If Cameron cannot make a deal, then it's more likely that the "no" vote will win.

There are passionate voices on both sides of the debate. Those who support the European Union in the Conservative Party include William Hague, a former foreign secretary and former party leader, who wrote an opinion article about why he's voting to stay in the EU:
There is no doubt that without the United Kingdom, the EU would be weaker. It would lose the fifth largest economy of the world, the continent’s greatest centre of finance, and one of its only two respected military powers. We will have to ask, disliking so many aspects of it as we do, whether we really want to weaken it, and at the same time increase the chances, if the UK left the EU, of Scotland leaving the UK.
A departure from the EU would damage British relations with other countries. The problem is balancing if it's worth it. Other supporters of the European Union include (predictably) Major, who has said it's better for the British to remain inside the EU rather than outside it. The former prime minister does support reforms, but doesn't support Brexit.

The Thatcherites who support Brexit include political editor and authorized Thatcher biographer Charles Moore. He has argued that the European Union significantly damages European civilization:
It is not a dictatorship, but an empire, in a world where other empires have disappeared. One of its oddest claims is that the future cannot consist of nations. Yet all the main players of the future are sovereign nations – China, India, America, the countries of the old Commonwealth.
When a real crisis arises, the EU cannot act. It failed in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and finally had to let the Americans come to the rescue. Today, some say the EU is more vital than ever, because of Russian adventurism. But the miseries of Ukraine suggest that the EU cannot successfully fill the vacuum created by President Obama’s abandonment of American strength.
Hague argues that leaving the EU would make it weaker, but it doesn't seem (as Moore argues) that the EU is effective at all in foreign policy matters. If the European Union has proven itself to be a weak force when it comes to foreign policy with the UK, then what's the purpose of staying a member? I'm also certain that the British would still be able to negotiate troop deployment with other eastern European countries like Poland. Other opponents of the European Union include former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, who served under Thatcher and currently leads the Eurosceptic group Conservatives for Britain.

While the Conservatives are formally neutral on this issue, most parties have taken a stance. UKIP obviously supports Brexit, but so does Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party and the Traditional Unionist Voice. If Cameron does not achieve his reforms, then the Ulster Unionist Party will also back leaving the EU. It would mean that all the right-wing North Irish parties would campaign for Brexit. As for the parties on the left, they all support the EU. The Labour Party, the Green Party, the Scottish National Party, and the Liberal Democrats are all campaigning against Brexit. To give you an idea of how divided the country is over Brexit, remember that roughly 15.6 million people voted for the Conservatives or other right-wing parties in 2015. The Brexit vote depends on how many people support leaving the EU in Cameron's party. As for the four left-wing parties I mentioned, they had over 14.3 million voters combined in the last election. It will be a close referendum.

Brexit guarantees a change of partnership with the European Union. Ian Bond of the Centre for European Reform has published a report on what would happen if the UK is no longer a member. The most pressing issue for the British is access to markets on the continent. London is a global center of finance and the British have historically supported free trade. If Britain does leave the EU, there could be a risk that the country won't have former trade agreements with as many European markets as it does now under current EU trade laws. Other problems will include handling criminals. What if a British criminal flees to France or Germany? What happens in a reverse situation? As an EU member, the UK is part of the law enforcement agency Europol. Will they be part of Europe's police force if they leave? The debates about what's going to happen are just beginning to decide Britain's future. It all depends on how many British people still consider themselves nationalists.


Another milestone hit in less than three years! I'm happy to see this much progress in so little time. It's been cool to see how engaged people are with reading the blog and how many people have grown more interested in political issues. Thank you all for continuing to read it!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Who won the Fox News/Google debate on December 28?

This debate felt very different because of the lack of Donald Trump. Nevertheless, it was still the most important debate of the Republican nomination race (yet). I still think not attending the debate hurts the front-runner with critical undecided voters, but it probably won't change the views of his own supporters.

In my opinion, Marco Rubio won the debate. He seemed on point every time a question was asked and was able to deflect most attacks against him easily. Some confrontations, like against Jeb Bush, I think showed small areas of weakness in his armor, but it was still a good debate for him. I think Rubio has had many good debates so far and he has climbed to double-digits. Where he does have a problem is that these performances do not give him great boosts of support. He polls around 15 percent in Iowa and that puts him solidly in third place, but it never seems to be enough. I expect his poll numbers to rise, but I think most people have made up their minds on Rubio. His best hope is that more establishment candidates drop out to endorse him. If he wins Iowa, it will be because of unbelievably powerful ground game.

Ted Cruz seemed a wobbly this time. In previous debates he was never really attacked as much as he was this time. He was at the center of the stage and became the center of attacks. Trump was always at the center of attacks, but this time it was Cruz because he had the highest level of support. I'm not saying Cruz didn't know how to handle himself against attacks waging from military spending to immigration, but it showed his rough edges. Unfortunately, if Cruz is hurt by this performance it probably just benefits Trump.

Rand Paul was probably the best candidate of the rest. It makes me think what could have been. Paul offers libertarian perspectives on policy issues. If it wasn't for Trump, I think Paul would have more support than he has now. I think he would have received more media attention if the Donald didn't suck all the oxygen from the room. Jeb Bush did better compared to previous performances, which will help him in New Hampshire, but not so much in Iowa. He was more positive, but there were times where he still seemed awkward.

Chris Christie's act of attacking Hillary Clinton and going after senators who haven't governed is getting a little old. I like him and I like his tough talk, but has become very repetitive. Christie, who was once a key player in New Hampshire, is now on the way out. Ben Carson continued his same style, but that means I don't think he will win Iowa. He wasn't asked many questions during the debate and I don't think he has proven himself in foreign policy. Finally, I don't remember anything from John Kasich's performance at the debate. He's doing better in New Hampshire, but I attribute that to his campaigning there. I don't think this performance helped him anywhere because he got very little time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Fox News/Google Republican Debate Tomorrow

The final Republican debate will be hosted by Fox News and Google tomorrow at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. Just days before the debate was doing to take place, Donald Trump decides to not attend because of moderator Megyn Kelly. In August, the first debate was held by Fox News and Kelly asked Trump a question regarding what he has said about women. Trump didn't like the question and has continued to attack her since. Since Fox News decided to keep Kelly for this debate, the Donald has decided to avoid it and will hold a fundraiser for veterans.

I want to give my thoughts on Trump first. The question Kelly asked in the August debate gave Trump more supporters. If Kelly asked another question he doesn't like, then Trump could attack her again to keep his supporters happy. If it worked before, why not do it again? If I was Trump, I would certainly participate in the debate to get media coverage and attract more voters in the Iowa caucus. While I think most of his supporters like the idea of a debate boycott, I also think his actions benefit Ted Cruz with undecided voters.

I think Cruz has been handed a gift. He has proven to be a smart, formidable, and charismatic debater. There's no reason to think Cruz won't be as articulate as he has been in other debates. This is his time to attract Iowa voters. Many Republicans in the state are Christian evangelical conservatives. This demographic group loves Cruz, so he should do whatever he can to make them happy tonight. Cruz should be prepared for attacks on him that regard amnesty and alternative energy. It also helps to take a shot at establishment Republicans who have attacked him like Terry Branstad and Bob Dole.

Marco Rubio also has a lot of potential tonight. If Rubio performs excellenty, then he might win Iowa since he's in double-digits. There are many undecided voters right now and I think he has the ability to pull them into his line of support. Rubio has been attacked by Jeb Bush and other candidates in several ads recently. It think it's likely for him to clash with others, but Rubio has proven to be very competent. If Rubio doesn't have to win Iowa because he seems to be focusing more of his time in New Hampshire. If he takes third in Iowa, then he has beat all the other candidates that the establishment loves.

Ben Carson wants to regain momentum for the debate. He knows this and will probably be more active than he has been in recent debates. I think a lot of people liked his humor from previous debates. He should figure out a way to keep his calm style, but to do more in order to be viewed as unique. I think Carson could benefit from throwing red meat to the base. While I don't see him as someone who's aggressive, I can see the doctor going after people in this desperate situation.

As for the rest of the field, most of them want to focus on New Hampshire. Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie are all moderate Republicans. They need the second state in order to rise to the top, not the first. Christie and Bush have been floundering recently, so I can see them going more aggressive. Kasich will probably keep doing what he's doing since it has worked. Finally, I expect Rand Paul to continue his libertarian rhetoric, but I don't expect it to work. As we close into the last days before the Iowa caucus, this debate will be one of the most important in American history.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Democracy 3: President Martin O'Malley

President Martin O'Malley - ABC
In my third presidential simulation for Democracy 3, I decide to focus on former Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland. I've also decided to play this game by simulating candidates who aren't polling very well and are expected to lose. Hillary Clinton is (in my opinion) expected to become the Democratic nominee, so I have time to simulate her campaign. O'Malley has little chance of becoming the nominee, so it makes sense to do him first. My previous two simulations were with Bernie Sanders and Jeb Bush. I'm now on my third. O'Malley is an odd fellow. In debates he tries to go to the left of Clinton, even though he's clearly a moderate.

As usual, I will be using his campaign website and the website OnTheIssues. Since he's a moderate, he's more open to compromising like Bush is. That means, like with the Bush simulation, I have more flexibility with O'Malley. With Bush I was able to narrowly win another term, but can I do that with O'Malley? Time to see!

As always with this game, all the settings are normal and the situation starts out exactly as it was with Bush and Sanders. Stop if you heard this before: 100 percent difficulty, $1.29 trillion in revenue, $1.3 trillion in expenditures, a $12.26 billion deficit, and a national debt of $3.13 trillion. As I always do, my immediate decision is to click to the next turn in order receive more political capital. On the next turn my credit rating is downgraded and my approval rating is 32 percent. The deficit is up to $40 billion. With O'Malley, I decide to start on gun policy. O'Malley wants to ban assault weapons and have fingerprint-based licenses required. There will be a minimum purchase age of twenty-one and he wants background checks. I enforce gun control accordingly from the current regulation of no machine guns to the policy license and minimum age. This makes patriots and farmers more angry, but it makes liberals and parents happy.

On the next turn, I put an emphasis on taxes. This is where there's a big problem because O'Malley has no precise tax proposal at the moment. The income tax rate (31 percent) in the game is already lower than the current rate (39.6 percent), so I decide to increase the tax rate up to 40 percent. The new adjustments promote equality, but they are opposed by middle income people and capitalists. O'Malley has said that the capital gains rate should be the same as the top income tax rate, so I raise it to 40 percent as well. It makes socialists happy, but capitalists and self employed people oppose the tax increase. As expected, they will raise revenue. I need it, because our old friends from the trade unions launched a general strike.

The general strike is a trigger that seems to happen in every game. O'Malley has proposed a Worker's Bill of Rights that will allow workers to collective bargain and creates maternity leave. I know he's a moderate and not a socialist like Sanders, so I increase labor laws that aren't as far left. I decide make the labor laws center-left, which is passed what I had with Bush and not as far as I had them with Sanders. This will have the effect of raising wages and hurting productivity. I have to go to the next turn, but the deficit is now over $200 billion and my approval rating is going down the toilet. On the next turn, I'm faced with a question over child labor. I criminalize labor, which O'Malley supports nationally and internationally in trade agreements. Several problems have developed, from cyber warfare to more homeless people. They're all taking a toll on my popularity. In order to keep the unions happy, I create maternity leave and put it on full pay. This makes parents and trade unionists happy, but it will reduce productivity in the economy. The deficit is down to $145 billion and I move to the next turn.

Thanks to a credit rating upgrade, I'm given a $45.79 billion surplus. That's with the general strike going on, but it's expected to be eliminated on the next turn. Going into law and order, I decide to implement community policing. This was a policy proposal that Sanders supported as well. Since it's popular and does reduce crime, I maximize it to $15.48 billion. I also decide to implement the Race Discrimination Act, which is very popular with ethnic minorities and reduces racial tension. I decide to focus this turn on O'Malley's Social Security plan, which increase benefits for all retirees and is intended to keep them out of poverty. I decide to expand the state pension service from the current spending of $192.12 billion to $260.62 billion. It increases my popularity among retirees, the poor, and reduces poverty. At the same time, private pensions will decrease and it's unpopular with capitalists. Finally, I expand the state health service from $95.86 billion to $165.58 billion. This plan will help reduce unemployment and increase my support among many groups. It will also help with reducing obesity.

On the next turn, I'm informed that we're back in a deficit of $69.19 billion. The general strike is over and so is organized crime. On the bright side, cycling is hot. I hope these new spending proposals will increase my popularity because the approval rating is only at 14 percent. In this turn, I decide to create a diplomatic service in order to boost foreign relations. As with most candidates, O'Malley wants the country to build alliances with others. I decide to increase foreign aid spending from $16.76 billion to $30.32 billion. This will increase foreign relations and my support among ethnic minorities and liberals. It lowers my support among patriots.

The end of the general strike has brought the surplus to $145 billion, but now the country is dealing with tax evasion because of how unpopular my tax increases are. This did not happen with my Sanders simulation because I implemented new taxes on carbon and financial transactions. I haven't implemented any new taxes on the economy, but I have raised income and capital gains taxes on the wealthy and the capitalists. O'Malley and Sanders are strongly opposed to tax cheating, so I hammer down on it through a tax fraud department. I also implement new regulations on the financial sector. These new policies are opposed by the self employed, wealthy, and capitalists. They also hurt the economy, but are popular with most of the leftist factions. The new regulations will also bring down internet crime.

On the next turn, I'm informed that one of my Cabinet ministers is not satisfied with my governing and that there's a small deficit. I'm surprised to see that it is a minister represented by the liberal and parents factions. The good news is that the police brutality problem has ended. I need to do more to make that minister happy, so I decide to adjust some law and order policies. I decide to expand prisons to offer more rehabilitation. Not only will this help with liberals, but also conservatives. It reduces unemployment and helps end drug addiction. The only problem is that it will be expensive as I'm increasing spending from $22.9 billion to $43.54 billion. I also decide to expand legal aid to make it more affordable, which increases my popularity among liberals and the poor. On the bright side, our country came out with a very popular movie. Maybe it was 13 Hours?

On the next turn, the country's credit rating has downgraded and the deficit is now $181.36 trillion. Part of this is from shrinking GDP due to higher taxes. My approval rating has increased, but it's still at 37 percent. I decide to lower military spending in order to deal with the budget problems. It is lowered from $235.35 billion to $175.13 billion. This will decrease my popularity among the patriots, raise unemployment, and hurt some key industries. On the other hand, lower spending will help me get my budget back in order and I'll receive praise from the liberals. I click to the next turn.

My new policies weren't enough to keep my Cabinet minister happy and she has resigned. I decide to play a political move that I hope will broaden my support. I pick a new Cabinet member who is favored by the capitalist and religious factions. Lower military spending has only achieved so much. The deficit is at $158.65 billion, but that is still high. My fraud agency hasn't fully kicked into gear yet, so I have to wait to get more tax revenue. Instead, I focus on the environment. O'Malley wants stronger pollution controls, so I respond accurately. The only problem with this strategy is that it hurts the economy, even if it does make the environmentalists happy. I approve $12 billion in new green energy subsidies and a new keep the country tidy campaign. These actions will all increase the environment and some will decrease C02 emissions. Finally, I create a new trade council to win back some capitalists.

On the next turn my approval rating is at 40 percent, but more Cabinet ministers are weary. This time I reshuffle the entire Cabinet with like-minded people. With only five turns left, I decide to take more political actions. A new business startup campaign and tourism ad campaign raises my support among the self employed. Funding for youth politics councils helps me with young voters. I also create a national business council to help me among the capitalists. The deficit has now exceeded $220 billion. It is revealed through an internet scandal that there are several websites being used by terrorists in America for bomb-making. That's what happens when you don't invest enough in the military. It has hurt me badly with the conservatives. A terrible business climate has led the last car factory to leave the country. The deficit is almost $400 billion from bad economic conditions and there's now over $4 trillion in debt. In order to avoid rapid debt, I impose a new mineral tax that will raise $54.28 billion in revenue. It will help me with the socialists, but it means losing some support with farmers. It also means a decline in the process industry. I decide to make spending cuts in rail subsidies, where I lower spending from $58.65 billion to $40.1 billion.

There's another credit downgrade on the next turn because my new taxes and budget cuts barely made a dent. Luckily, the tax fraud problem will go away in a few turns, so I increase spending on the agency to finish it quickly. In order to get more voters, I create a recycling program for the environmentalists and a city farms program for the farmers. I click on the next turn, so now I only have two left. My approval rating is at 25 percent, so I'm open to anything. A new consumer rights law helps with liberals while the youth entrepreneur scheme helps me with capitalists and young voters. The last turn couldn't get any worse. A sweatshop scandal has lost me the support of the unions, the credit rating has been downgraded, there's a $473.75 billion deficit, and $5.3 trillion in debt. My approval rating is at 13.55 percent. I try some last-ditch policies like a Labor Day bank holiday and fitness tax credits to win back the trade unionists. Will they work?

Looks like O'Malley is history. I won less votes than Sanders did and only carried a few groups. I was able to do well with poor voters thanks to my efforts with increasing the state pension service and the state health service. Aside from them, I won a majority of farmers and patriots. It seems to me that the patriots are the most loyal group no matter who you are when you play, but you do lose support with them when making military spending cuts.

Based on the effects of my policies, I see that I did a good job with increasing equality through my new spending on health and pensions. I also helped the environment, but C02 emissions didn't go down as much as they did with Bernie Sanders. Investments in community policing led to lower crime, but racial tension slightly went up. As for the economy, it performed terribly under the O'Malley simulation. Every income level lost ground because of the tax increases and there was no growth in productivity. In the Jeb Bush simulation, GDP did go up by 4 percent, but in this simulation it decreased by 30 percent. International trade was also badly damaged. Like when we played Sanders, private services collapsed after I spent more on public services.

Let's end this with our budget chart. With Sanders and Bush, I balanced the budget for four quarters each. With O'Malley, I only balanced the budget twice. Spending increased steadily for several turns, though not as much as it did when I played Sanders. The income tax and capital gains tax increases didn't work. Even when I brought in a new methane tax and slashed military spending, the battle for fiscal responsibility was lost. Interest on the debt skyrocketed as it did under Sanders while GDP shrunk. Let's see what happens in my fourth simulation, when I simulate another Republican candidate.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

What the National Review edition says about the GOP

Legal Insurrection
For those of you who don't what National Review is, it's an influential conservative magazine that was founded by activist and news commentator William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008) in 1955. Like most magazines, it has declined over the last decade with the rise of the internet. Nevertheless, it's still fairly popular among conservatives and has adjusted to being on the web as well. A few days ago, a special edition of National Review was published online titled Against Trump. Twenty-two prominent conservatives have decided to write about why they oppose the Trump's candidacy. The special edition includes media personalities like radio hosts Glenn Beck and Erick Erickson, academics like historian Stephen F. Hayward and economist Thomas Sowell, and government officials like Ronald Reagan's attorney general Edwin Meese, III and George W. Bush's attorney general Michael B. Mukasey.

The articles are very well-written and I'd recommend you read them. If you want the paper copy, I think it will be out by February. Watching the news last night, there were many Republicans and conservatives arguing on both sides. Some felt that National Review was betraying the Republican Party and conservatives. In an interview with The Washington Post's Callum Borchers, the magazine's editor Rich Lowry said this about the issue:
The most important thing is putting a marker down and saying, “He’s not one of us. He’s not a conservative, and he’s not what conservatism is.” Just making that point is important, but obviously we want to persuade people. There are a lot of Trump voters who aren’t going to be persuadable. Maybe some are at the margins, and if we can make a difference with them, we’ll be delighted.
What I find most fascinating about his actions is that it cost him a debate sponsorship. The Republican National Committee had CNN, Salem Radio, Telemundo, and National Review sponsor a February debate. RNC chairman Reince Priebus naturally cancelled their sponsorship because the magazine was clearly rejecting a major candidate in the presidential field. Regarding that, Lowry said:
That was pretty expected. We priced it in. I was going over the final press release with our publisher and was like, “You know this is going to cost us the debate, right?” He was like, “Yeah.”
They knew they would lose the debate, a debate which could have helped their business, but decided to publish the issue anyway preferring to choose their principles over their profit. It might be a bad business decision, but I don't think the edition could have waited after the debate since the Iowa caucus occurs before it would happen. The National Review edition shows just how divided the Republican Party is over Donald Trump. While I'd expect most of the writers to rally around the Republican candidate no matter who it is, that doesn't mean they will be satisfied if it's Trump.

I want a Republican candidate who can unite the party, but it's becoming increasingly clear that Trump is a gamble. He has improved on his electability, but he's still behind Hillary Clinton in most polls. There is a clear faction war going on between everyone in the Republican Party. It's not just between the Tea Party and Christian conservatives who are split between candidates like Trump, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson. The establishment and moderate Republicans have proven to be highly incompetent at trying to rally the base. I've posted before about how Marco Rubio has broad appeal to both groups, but the donors haven't fully supported him yet because some are worried that he's too conservative. I usually hear from conservatives that they oppose Rubio because of his previous support for amnesty, but aside from that he's got a conservative voting record. That's why many in the establishment has not jumped on him and are still hedging their bets on Jeb Bush, who doesn't seem to be returning to front-runner status.

A divided party doesn't mean defeat. The chaotic Democratic nomination race in 1976 sets precedent for the possibility of a victory. The problem is that winning elections with party divisions this high is extremely rare. If one candidate wins, then supporters of other candidates might not necessarily fall in the line of support. John Kasich is very different from Donald Trump. I don't think every Kasich supporter could see themselves getting behind Trump. Likewise, could you see Trump supporters get behind Kasich? That's why you go for someone who can appeal to the establishment and the base, but that doesn't seem to be happening (yet).

On a final note, I found a Cigar Aficionado article from 2000 written by William Buckley. At that time, Trump was considering a presidential run. I think it's worth reading what he wrote:
Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today's lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents--midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War--had little to do with a bottom line.

The Minimum Wage Fails Again

Over the last several years, many cities ruled by Democrats have implemented new policies that raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Even though more than doubling the current minimum wage flies in the face of all economic logic, the Democrats have continued to press on thinking that it could help the poor. With the exception of Democratic Party rallies and most liberal circles, the overwhelming discussion over a $15 minimum wage is how costly the policy will be. Even though these cities are just phasing-in the law at the moment, they are already starting to face some big economic consequences from their wage policy.

A new national poll from the Survey Center at the University of New Hampshire asked 555 economists about a $15 minimum wage. Only 5 percent of them strongly supported raising the minimum wage to $15 while 14 percent supported it somewhat. Half of the economists strongly opposed a $15 minimum wage while 22 percent somewhat opposed it. Overall, 83 percent of the economists thought that the new minimum wage would have a negative effect on youth employment levels while 52 percent believed it would have a negative effect on adult employment levels. That impacts me and my friends. It's wrong to pass a new law that would be counterproductive and cause them to lose their jobs. I usually hear liberals talk about how an overwhelming majority of scientists believe that global warming exists, but I never hear them talk about how an overwhelming majority of economists believe that $15 an hour would be a terrible minimum wage.

How is the minimum wage actually doing in these cities anyway? The answer is that job growth is slowing. In another post about the minimum wage I focused on Seattle, but this time I'll use Washington D.C. and Oakland as examples. When the recession hit the country in 2007 and 2008, the nation's capital was extraordinarily unaffected and continued to gain highly vulnerable restaurant jobs. The surrounding suburbs in Virginia and Maryland suffered in terms of restaurant job growth during the recession. Now the situation has flipped. The city passed a new minimum wage law in 2014. It was raised to $9.50 an hour later in that year and was raised again to $10.50 an hour in 2015. The minimum wage is expected to reach $11.50 in July of this year. There's a very good reason they should reverse course:

American Enterprise Institute
Since the passage of the new law, restaurant employment in suburbs has skyrocketed. Roughly 4,900 jobs were added there in 2015, but Washington D.C. lost 230 jobs that same year. It could be the beginning of a worse trend. Wal-Mart is suffering from a bad business climate, so it has decided to close 154 stores in the United States. It should be no surprise that Washington D.C. will be getting no new Wal-Mart stores. It has angered local officials, who wanted the retailer to invest in some of the poor areas of the city. The reason for not constructing the new stores is higher labor costs from the new minimum wage policy. What a surprise! You create an anti-business climate in your location and businesses won't move there. If only some of the D.C. officials at least had high school economic intelligence.

Oakland, which currently has a $12.55 minimum wage, isn't fairing any better. The city only has one Wal-Mart, but it's going to close. There are two Wal-Mart stores just miles away from the one in Oakland that aren't going to close. They are located in the suburb of San Leandro, which follows the state's minimum wage of $10 an hour. Not only do these closures in America's cities mean less jobs, but they also mean less tax revenue. A big store like Wal-Mart attracts a lot of customers who pay the sales tax when purchasing goods. Now Oakland won't get any sales tax revenue from a very important store. The suburb will get a boost in sales tax revenue from customers who will travel down from the city.

More research on the effect of the minimum wage in these cities can be found from Ben Gitis of the American Action Forum. He has recently published research on restaurant employment trends in seven cities that have decide to raise the minimum wage. Only a few of those cities have higher employment growth compared to the rest of their states. In Seattle, where the "Fight for 15" began, growth in the metropolitan area was only 0.6 percent last year, but it was at 6 percent in the rest of Washington. These policies are just one big disaster and they shouldn't be repeated anywhere else.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Debunking the Trump and Hitler Comparison

Dumb meme
Throughout social media, I've been observing many pictures that attempt to link Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. I'm not going to hide that I think Trump will be a bad nominee for the Republican Party, but it's a massive stretch for liberals to say that he's like Hitler for wanting a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants in order to increase border security. Neither is a policy proposal to evict illegal immigrants comparable to Hitler. David Harsanyi stated it best in an article from National Review that was published on December 11:
Unless political demonstrations have been banned and something comparable to the Reichstag fire is about to go down, Trump is not going to be F├╝hrer. Marinus van der Lubbe may not have burned down the German Parliament, but Islamic terrorists actually did gun down a bunch of Americans last week. Yet storm troopers didn’t smash Muslim businesses in a fury of collective punishment; a concentration camp for political opponents of Trump was not established this year; there’s been no decree banning Muslims from practicing law and civil-service jobs; and there have been no prohibitions on Islamic dietary laws. Not even Trump has claimed to want to institute any of these things — and other than a few fringy Nazi types on Twitter, I’ve never seen anyone claim to want to institute these things. All of them, of course, would be unconstitutional.
Another big problem is to call Trump a fascist. It make me wonder if people really know what that word means. Fascism, an ideology that became popular in Germany and Italy during the Great Depression, represents centralization by a dictator with an economy ruled by strong government controls. That's not possible in the United States and it isn't what Trump proposes. If you look at his tax policy proposal, then you know that it's a supply-side strategy that focuses on large tax reductions and eliminates personal income taxes for a large group of people.

What about guns? It is known that Hitler took away guns from Jews before World War II:
In 1933, the ultimate extremist group, led by Adolf Hitler, seized power and used the records to identify, disarm, and attack political opponents and Jews. Constitutional rights were suspended, and mass searches for and seizures of guns and dissident publications ensued. Police revoked gun licenses of Social Democrats and others who were not “politically reliable.”
That's not what Trump proposes. The Donald has a plan that eliminates all gun and magazine bans. He plans to target violent criminals, drug dealers, and gang members. The plan also puts emphasis on improving mental health. It's an aggressive rejection of gun regulations, such as the background check expansions that he opposes. Instead, he wants tougher sentencing on felonies committed with guns.

After reviewing these policies, can you really call Trump a fascist? Even though that ideology is impossible to advance in the United States (we are a product of the Enlightenment's classical liberalism), there are people that believe stupid things. Thinking that the rise of Donald Trump is the return of Adolf Hitler is one of them.

Democracy 3: President Jeb Bush

President Jeb Bush - Forbes
After finishing my simulation as Bernie Sanders, I now turn to former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida. I start the game with the same default settings. Assassinations have been turned off, there's 100 percent difficulty, and 58 percent political apathy. The only thing that has been switched is that the governing party will be the Republicans and the opposition party will be the Democrats. Jeb Bush claims to be someone who can fix the government's many problems. He says that he hasn't just talked, but has also proven that he can get things done. Let's see if those things will be good things. As with the last game, I'll be using what the candidate has on his website. Additionally, I'll be using the website OnTheIssues where every candidate has their statements tracked. I'll be using this website to provide more clarification when it comes to different policies.

As with every time I play this game, my plan is to govern the country effectively and attempt to solve most of the problems. The game starts out exactly like it did with my last game. There's $1.29 trillion in revenue with $1.3 trillion in spending. There's a deficit of $12.26 billion and a national debt of $3.13 trillion. I decide to do what I did last time with the Sanders simulation by waiting one turn in order to amass a load of political capital. Going to the next turn is familiar. The credit rating downgrades and the deficit has increased to $40.12 billion. Bush wants to reduce spending in order to balance the budget. He wants a balanced budget amendment in the Constitution. This game doesn't really operate with a Constitution, so I just implement my spending cuts.

I start out with the state pension service in the game (Social Security). Bush wants to push people to move toward private pensions and reduce benefits for early retirees due to ease costs. This isn't privatization, so I'm not going to cancel the program. Instead, I decide to reduce spending from $209.56 billion to $100.79 billion. It will make the poor and retired less happy, but it will grow private pensions and make the capitalists happy. The second thing I do is implement work requirements for the unemployed who receive welfare benefits. Bush wants most of the unemployed workers to engage in this, so I set the policy accordingly. It will make capitalists happy and raise GDP, but make the poor and the socialists angry. It will also lower unemployment. I finish this turn with a race discrimination act. Bush wants to have it legally required for minorities to be hired, so I feel that it needs to be reflected accurately by setting the new law on default settings. It will make ethnic minorities very happy and reduce racial tension.

On the next turn I receive a surplus of $39.93 billion thanks to spending cuts, but my approval rating is at 35.55 percent. Our trade union friends from the last game return with a general strike. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened yet. The drug addiction problem and the vigilante mobs have went away while ghettos have developed like in the last game. Cycling is popular again as well. As expected, the general strike shoots down the gross domestic product and that's going to make tax revenue take a dive. When I played Sanders, I was able to end the strike by putting myself on friendly terms with the unions. In this case, we have a politician who is less friendly with the unions, but he's still open to compromise. Bush has previously made comments that unions have too much power in public education, but I couldn't find much aside from that. Nevertheless, he is a pro-business man, so I decide to adjust the labor laws only slightly. It uses up all the political capital for this turn.

On the next turn I'm happy to see that the unionists are becoming more appeased, but I decide to do more. I implement the telecommunications initiative on the next turn. This is a policy that provides tax incentives for businesses that have their workers operate at home. It makes trade unionists and parents happy. I'd say it's a more conservative policy because it encourage business expansion in the technology industry and reduces the burden on infrastructure by decreasing car usage. I also implement a fitness tax credit, which will make unionists happy about the health of their workers and a Labor Day bank holiday, which unions would like for more leisure. Unlike the last game, I decide to not eliminate private prisons because Bush has previously supported them. I'm also not going to create maternity leave, which would severely damage economic productivity and is something a majority of conservatives oppose. I finish the turn with a business startup campaign and a tourism ad campaign to support self employed voters.

On the next turn I'm stuck with a deficit of $312 billion, so I decide to start making more spending cuts. Bush has said that he will reduce the number of employees by 10 percent in departments that aren't relevant to national security. Thanks to a mod that provides a military strength indicator, I can see which policies directly effect national security. Since road building is not one of them, I decide to go for that first after passing a law that will reduce car usage. I can't reduce the number of workers in every department, but I can reduce spending itself, so I decide to use math. Spending will be reduced from $62.2 billion to $55.97 billion. The changes to different voting groups are so low that I won't bother to mention them. At the end of the turn, I decide to implement a diplomatic service to build my foreign relations and make ethnic minorities happy.

On the next turn I focus my spending cuts on healthcare, where I reduce spending from $96.28 billion to $86.25 billion. The general strike ends and I get a small deficit of $47.71 billion to handle. My credit rating has been upgraded, bringing interest rates down to big lows and letting GDP move upward. My approval rating has suffered and it is now at 22.6 percent. Clicking on the next turn, I get a huge budget surplus of $321.32 billion, but my approval rating has not improved because of a new drug addiction problem. There's also a big homeless problem that needs to be solved.

I believe that now is the time to launch the tax cuts Bush has been campaigning for. I start with the income tax, where he wants a 28 percent tax rate. This game has the rate set at 31 percent, so I decrease it accordingly. It will help me with middle income voters and increase the earnings of every income group. Bush wants a corporate tax rate of 20 percent, but the game has the tax rate set at 16 percent. To fulfill his promise in an odd way, I merely use multiplication to reduce 16 percent by 20 percent. The answer is 12.8 percent, so I just make the new rate 13 percent. His tax policies will increase productivity, but they make socialists less happy. I end the turn with creating a trade council to boost international trade, improve foreign relations, and increase my support among the capitalists.

On the next turn my surplus is down to $130.48 billion, but my approval rating is only at 30.15 percent. I need to do more in order to get voters on my side. I turn to Bush's crime policies. The drug epidemic has returned and is hurting my economy. It is increasing crime while making parents less happy and lowering the nation's productivity. Bush opposes marijuana legalization and supports more efforts to clamp down on abuse. He has said in his book Immigration Wars that the military should be authorized to handle the problem. I decide to expand the police force from $33.84 billion to $45.34 billion in order to clamp down on the problem. Not only will this decrease drug abuse, but also many other crime problems. I also move to strengthen border control. Policies like these will be more expensive, but they will also keep conservatives and patriots happy.

On the next turn, I implement community policing in order to bring crime down. It will cost $15.25 billion, but even though the surplus is getting smaller I think it's the right policy to implement. On this turn I decide to create an alcohol awareness campaign in order to reduce the alcohol abuse problem in my country. Can't have everyone getting drunk and smoking pot after all! This policy will make me less happy with farmers who distill the alcohol. Finally, I create a witness protection program to handle street gangs and organized crime. I briefly focus on obesity by creating a compulsory school sports program, which makes more patriots happy.

My credit rating has been downgraded, but I still have a surplus over $80 billion. The street gangs and antisocial behavior are no longer a problem, which brings my approval rating to 47.6 percent! I focus on welfare again. Bush wants to crack down on welfare abuse in the country. He has previously concerned abuse when he was governor, so I decide to create a new welfare fraud department to handle the problem. It will be popular with conservatives and middle income voters, but it will be unpopular with the poor. I end the turn with creating a national business council and youth entrepreneur scheme to win over more capitalists and young voters. On the next turn, one of my ministers resigns and my approval rating goes down to 45 percent. I decide to reshuffle the Cabinet with more friendly advisers.

I receive mixed news in the next turn. Cyber warfare has returned from more technological growth and is damaging my GDP and tax revenue. The surplus has plunged into a deficit of over $300 billion and the rust belt situation has caused me to become less popular with the unions. My approval rating is down to 41 percent and there's only five turns left. I decide to implement mortgage tax relief in order to get more of the middle income voters on my side. This comes at a cost, however, as it is not supported by the poor and socialists. I receive bad a news that the automotive industry has left the country.

The approval rating has increased to 46.7 percent on the next turn. With the election getting closer and closer, I decide to do things that will broaden my support. Bush is a skeptic on climate change, but a new recycling campaign to keep the country tidy is a whole different scope. The environmentalists will like it. I decide to expand school vouchers in this turn, which will slightly increase the earnings of the poor and expand private schools. Spending is slightly increased from $23.46 billion to $33.8 billion. Bush has previously said that he's opposed to the estate tax, so I get rid of that program. It will increase my support among the wealthy, conservatives, middle income people, and the retired. It only lowers my support among the socialists. I end the turn with a youth politics council to win more young voters. On the next turn I decide to play it safe. My credit rating is upgraded and deficit goes down to $227.25 billion, which brings my approval rating to 48.5 percent.

With three turns left, I decide to play it safe. I click on the next turn without doing anything and my approval rating is now almost 53 percent! The automotive industry has returned, which increases the country's GDP and decreases the rust belt problem. The deficit is down to $195 billion, so I play it safe again and do nothing. I click to get my last turn. I now have an approval rating of 51.9 percent and get a good economic update about the internet economy. Thanks to my tax policies, it is becoming a very vibrant sector. It's election time, let's see what happens:

The fireworks go off! I've won a close election against my Democratic opponent. As for the voting groups, the Democrats had higher turnout than I did, but I was able to get key groups on my side. I naturally had conservatives, patriots, capitalists, and the self employed on my side. I was able to get a majority of support from motorists, retired voters, middle income voters, and farmers. I won 2/3 of the religious vote. It was a close election because I also had many groups opposing me, but I was able to tip the scale.

As for the impact of my policies, crime went down thanks to my spending increases on law enforcement. Both poverty and unemployment decreased during the presidency. The earnings for the poor and the middle class both increased over my presidency, but the earnings of the wealthy went down. GDP did reach 4 percent growth, which is a big part of Bush's proposed economic policies, but productivity remained the same. Military strength also did very well during this simulation. By winning this simulation, we can rate a Bush presidency to be a success.

Finally, let's take a look at the budget chart.

Like in the Sanders game, there was a general strike at the beginning. This seems to be a trigger that occurs at the start of every game. It led to a big deficit and high interest rates, but I was able to end the strike by compromising with the unions. I gave them some things, but not everything. I ran a budget surplus after the strike, but that went into deficit from slow GDP growth. Cutting more spending would have been against what Bush would have wanted. I already reduced spending by 10 percent on several programs. Besides, tax revenue was going back up at the end of the game. It's possible that bigger tax cuts could have led more productivity, but that would have been going against what Bush proposed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Big Moment is Nigh

Clinton in Iowa - UPI
We are just weeks away from the Iowa caucus. After months of campaigning and debating, every candidate is getting ready for the most important moment in 2016. Next month many candidates will end their campaigns while a few get closer to their party's nomination. By the time Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada are over there will only be two, three, or maybe four Republican candidates left. On the Democratic side, there's already only two candidates who matter. This post is about what I expect to see in the upcoming weeks.

The Democrats held their last debate a couple days ago. I don't think it has changed anything between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Both candidates wanted to feed their bases as much as possible. For Clinton, it meant praising her old boss to win moderate Democrats and racial minorities. For Sanders, it meant his typical rhetoric on income inequality to excite the far left and white liberals.

Sanders should consider himself lucky because of the party's schedule. His key voting groups are strongest in Iowa and especially New Hampshire. Had Nevada and South Carolina been allowed to go first we would have seen big Clinton victories. The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll shows Clinton with 42 percent, Sanders with 40 percent, and Martin O'Malley with only 4 percent in Iowa. If this poll is accurate, then there are many undecided voters who can be swayed in the last weeks before the caucus. Clinton has endorsements from many Iowa politicians and is probably better with ground game, but I wouldn't underestimate Sanders. As of now, I give the advantage to Clinton. The RealClearPolitics average reflects that.

Trump receives Sarah Palin's endorsement - NPR
As for the GOP, they are dealing with a tense race of their own, but with different dynamics. First off, there is more time for the Republicans than the Democrats because the Republican National Committee has scheduled one final debate just days before voting that will be hosted by Fox News. In the Republican poll from the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg, Ted Cruz has 25 percent and Donald Trump has 22 percent. Not that far behind is Marco Rubio with 12 percent and Ben Carson with 11 percent. Carson is probably on the way out and Rubio has to battle get enough votes, but I think there's certainly a chance for either of them breakout.

When thinking about Cruz and Trump, I'm undecided on who can win here. It depends on who wins the final debate and who has a better campaign that can drag out more supporters. Trump has received an big endorsement from Tea Party activist and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. If anyone can get out conservatives it's her. Cruz also has to deal with negative comments from the Republican Iowa governor, Terry Branstad, who says that the Texas senator would be a "very damaging" for his state because of his opposition to renewable fuels (a huge part of the Iowan economy).

Good news for Trump doesn't mean we should underestimate Cruz because I think he has better ground game than the Donald does. The political analysts from Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia have pointed out Cruz's advantage:
Iowa is not a strong leadoff state for Trump because it has a heavily evangelical, socially conservative electorate. Cruz, who stresses the issues that appeal most to evangelicals, has a profile similar to many past winners. The Texan’s continued strength in Iowa explains why Trump has been questioning Cruz’s constitutional eligibility for the presidency (Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother).
In New Hampshire, Sanders is at his best. It's possible that Clinton has already lost the state, but it's not like she lacks resources to fight there. The RCP average has Sanders in a double-digit lead at the moment. Momentum in New Hampshire will be directly impacted from the results in the Iowa caucus. If Clinton wins big there, then I can see Sanders losing momentum. If Sanders wins in Iowa, then I'd say his victory in the second contest is guaranteed. The problem for Sanders (and why I still think he's unlikely to win) is where to go from there. Even if he does win in both states, he has awful poll numbers in Nevada and South Carolina because he has not appealed to Hispanics and African Americans. To be fair, two wins in previous states could give him momentum, but it could also have no effect. Mitt Romney easily won New Hampshire in 2012 and barely lost in Iowa, but that didn't translate to a win in South Carolina where he was crushed by Newt Gingrich.

Rubio in New Hampshire - ABC
Trump holds a powerful lead in America's first primary. The reason why is because he's facing no clear opposition there. New Hampshire is more friendly to the Republican establishment than it is to the Tea Party, but there are so many moderates running that none of them are key rivals. Marco Rubio is probably the strongest in the state, but the latest poll from the American Research Group has John Kasich at 20 percent. Both candidates are spending resources in the state, but so are Chris Christie and Jeb Bush. It has surprised me a bit because I felt Christie should be even with Rubio rather than Kasich after the last debate.

Conventional wisdom says that two or three of these candidates will drop out in order to rally around one of them. Indeed, the veteran political analyst Charlie Cook has argued that this will happen and put Trump into deep trouble. The only problem with that is trying to figure out who will drop out. Bush and Christie are more likely to do so right now so long as they're not stubborn, but the new poll might give Kasich too much confidence even though it's likely an outlier. Rubio is probably more favorable than Kasich, but I'd say both are on equal footing in terms of supporters.

As we enter these last weeks, expect the presidential race to get more aggressive and brutal. This always happens as candidates do whatever is possible to get more people in their column before the votes are cast. I don't think the current conflict between Trump and Cruz is going to stop. I think it's going to continue and get worse. It's also possible that the establishment candidates will battle between themselves to see who comes out on the top. Clinton and Sanders have played nice up until now. The mudslinging between those two is expected to remain. When the dust settles after this mess we will see who are the defining candidates of 2016.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Who won the Democratic debate on January 17?

This debate was the last one before the Iowa caucus and the candidates were certainly more tense and aggressive from the last debate. There was a lot of debating between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. There was less of O'Malley in the debate, which he greatly disliked. As whole, this debate will matter for momentum. Every candidate seemed to play to their base in order to energize them for the upcoming primaries and caucuses.

Hillary Clinton did well for the Democrats tonight. During this debate she was riding on the Obama legacy, no doubt to position her favorably with black Democrats. In the 2008 election cycle, she lost those supporters when Barack Obama rose in the polls and won in Iowa. She also mentioned Martin Luther King Jr. in her opening statement. Unless Sanders can get more support among them, his candidacy is over. She clearly shows knowledge and depth on many issues that Democrats stand for. If there was only one problem with Clinton, it is that she didn't deal any major blows to Sanders. I expect Sanders to continue to have momentum from the left after the debate.

As for the Vermont senator, he was angrier than usual in previous debates. He remained consistent with the economic issues that he's concerned with like Wall Street and Dodd-Frank. I think his attacks on Clinton for being a defender of the status quo will excite his base. Sanders' feisty performance will probably help him to get undecided Democrats on his side. I'm not sure it will be enough, but Iowa and New Hampshire are where his key demographic (white liberals) is large.

O'Malley didn't have a good performance and won't be the nominee. There were times that he was complaining about his lack of speaking time, but a great performance from him wouldn't have change anything Sanders has less than 5 percent in the polls and he is taking on two candidates who generally have 50 percent and 40 percent. If anything, I just think he helped Sanders in this debate when attacking Clinton on Wall Street. Aside from that O'Malley didn't have much to offer that wasn't new.

After this debate, which could be the most important debate for the Democrats, I believe the Iowa caucus will probably be close. Both Clinton and Sanders did what they needed and probably what they wanted to do. Now the campaigns will do their workers on getting out their supporters for voting in Iowa. If Clinton wins, then there is less of a threat from Sanders. If Sanders wins, then he probably has more momentum in New Hampshire, but I'm not certain how he will do in Nevada and South Carolina. We will just have to wait for when the votes are cast!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

NBC Democratic Debate Tonight

The three Democratic candidates will be debating tonight in South Carolina. Like the debate for the Republicans, this will be one of the most important debates because it will occur just weeks before voting in Iowa caucus. For Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley there is an increase of pressure to do well. Clinton still holds the advantage in Iowa, but Sanders could upset that.

Hillary Clinton has had good performances at the debates overall. Since she is leading, she should be prepared for attacks from Sanders and O'Malley. Clinton attacked Sanders for being more moderate on gun policy. It's possible that the moderator will raise the topic because South Carolina dealt with a mass shooting last year. Clinton also wants to show how her policies are progressive and will excite the base. Sanders argues that Clinton isn't progressive enough when it comes to public policy proposals like healthcare, so it is her job to prove that they are.

Bernie Sanders needs to defeat Clinton (or at least outshine her) at this debate in order make Iowa more competitive and grow his lead in New Hampshire. He has attacked Clinton for taking donations from big financial corporations in New York City. It's part of his narrative of democratic socialism taking on special interest and income inequality. Sanders wants to keep his progressive base, but he also wants to expand on it. That means he needs to go after more moderate Democrats. South Carolina has a large black population that plays a role in the Democratic primary. Putting some time to focus on race relations will work wonders for his campaign.

As for Martin O'Malley, I don't see how he can win in any state. He polls very low and needs to a Godly performance in this debate if he wants to win, which is impossible. I think he will go negative, but I don't think it will help him because (unlike Sanders) he is very desperate.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Who won the Republican debate on January 14?

Huffington Post
This debate, which was the first in 2016, was the most engaging yet. If it was up to me, the Fox Business Network would probably moderate every single debate in the election process. There was a lot of discussion about the issues, but also about recent jabs between the candidates. In this debate, I think that Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Chris Christie came out the best. Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich didn't perform well.

Rubio and Cruz won the debate in my opinion. I'd say both will rise in the polls, but I don't know by how much. Rubio started very well and offered a charismatic conservative message. He didn't attack many candidates, but primarily went after Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. When he did go after Ted Cruz, he provided multiple flip-flops made by the Texan senator. Cruz was booed when responding to Rubio. Nevertheless, Cruz did awesome in his own right. Cruz annihilated Trump on the issue of birthright citizenship. Cruz was respectful when going after Trump, but did overextend himself at times like when he attacked "New York values" that the Donald prides. However, I do think Rubio's attack on Cruz's record over not being a consistent conservative might raise questions from supporters.

As for the Donald, I can't see him losing too much during the debate. He lost to Cruz on birthright citizenship, but won when he invoked 9/11 in his refutation on "New York values" that Cruz attacked. Some people have said that Cruz was left speechless, but I didn't get time to respond from the moderators. As for Trump, he was able to talk about 9/11 much better that Clinton did in a previous debate. For the rest of the debate, I don't think Trump damaged himself. Frankly, I don't think Trump is a good debater, but it doesn't seem to matter in the eyes of his supporters.

Christie is widely considered to be on the rise. I think he helped himself in New Hampshire, which is what he wanted to do. He is smart when it comes to debates and he used his personality perfectly in the debate. Bush isn't a good debater and didn't perform well last night. He tried to go after Trump regarding the ban of Muslim immigrants, but his attack wasn't decisive compared to Cruz's attack. Bush is working on winning South Carolina and he has received Lindsey Graham's support, but he hasn't done much to win many supporters. I think his poll numbers will stay the same.

Ben Carson and John Kasich didn't impress me at all during this debate. Unfortunately for Carson, he didn't get much time to talk about his tax plan. On foreign policy topics, I still find Carson to be a bit out of his league. Kasich, on the other hand, offered detail about fiscal policy even though he talks too much about his record. He needed to do something else, but he failed. After this debate, I'm thinking that the nomination will either go to Cruz or Rubio. Like I said before, I can't see Trump winning, he didn't do so bad at this debate. Iowa is weeks away and even though no one has ever won in a position that he has, it would be wrong to say that he doesn't have a chance. Christie is just hanging in there and he has a slim chance to pull through. The other candidates have evidently diminished.