Archive for the 'Politics' Category

The politics of the Supreme Court

By now, you know that one of the great Supreme Court justices in the history of our country passed away unexpectedly. Even those who disagreed with almost every decision Antonin Scalia ever cast had immense regard for him and his work. Indeed, Scalia and his liberal alter ego on the court, Justice Ginsberg, had been best friends for decades, even before they were on the nation’s highest court.

In our online poll this week, we asked you to weigh in on the debate about the process for replacing him. Here were the responses and my comments:

20% - The president should nominate a replacement and the Senate confirm this year.
23% - They should start the process to see if a replacement can be confirmed this year.
16% - The president should not nominate a replacement in his last year in office.
41% - Even if a replacement is nominated, the Senate should not confirm this year.

Only one-in-five of respondents to our first option think the president and Senate should just get along together and do their business this year. But there are circumstances that complicate this logical and Constitutional scenario, like ideological balance of the bench and the impending election to replace the sitting president. Kumbayah will not be part of this scenario

I kinda like the second group, representing almost one-fourth of our sample, because they’re saying, regardless of the politics, both parties should just give it their best shot in the process of doing their job. Everyone knows the president is going to nominate and the Senate is likely going to reject. So quit jawboning and get to work.

The third group is the smallest, with 16%, who think the president should just stand down on this issue, since he’s out the door in less than a year. But even though he likely knows he’s not going to get a nominee confirmed, he will at least be able to use the rejection to help his party. It’s politics, and any president of either party would do it.

The largest group, at 41%, is the most troubled by the imbalance of the Supreme Court. They’re counting on a party change in the White House next year, and maintaining the majority party in the Senate. For now this group, and the Senate, are in the catbird seat.

Just when you thought the political season couldn’t get any weirder or more complicated, with a socialist and a billionaire running for president, the arch-conservative Justice on a tightly divided Court dies, leaving his replacement up to a president who is his polar opposite politically. As I’ve written before, we continue to live the Chinese Curse: May you live in interesting times.

To take this week’s poll on the US economy and your small business sales in Q1, click here.

Poll results: Which of the frontrunners would you vote for?

The Question:
It’s the week before the Iowa caucuses. Which of the frontrunner of the two parties would you vote for?

4% - Hillary Clinton
7% - Bernie Sanders
44% - Donald Trump
25% - Ted Cruz
20% - If these are my choices, I won’t vote.

Jim’s Comments:
So, there you have it. The Small Business Advocate Iowa Straw Poll results.

First, you have to notice that small business owners are heavily weighted toward the GOP. When asked why, they typically say, “Because I make payroll twice a month.”

Second, the two troublemakers, Bernie and The Donald, are the frontrunners in their parties. Surely this who-woulda-thunk-it scenario will be the stuff of books and civics lessons for years to come.

Finally, for those of you who support the Democrat O’Malley, or Bush, Rubio or any of the other Republicans, please forgive me for leaving them out of the survey. We just didn’t have room other than to offer the “anyone else” option at the end. Even so, with only 20% choosing this line, it looks like the choices were offered were justified, as they align pretty well with the national polls.

I’m looking forward to our edition next week where we’ll compare our numbers with the actuals of the caucuses. Stay tuned.

And thanks for your abiding support of our poll each week. Check out our new one below.
Poll: Do you think your business is prepared to be relevant and competitive into the next decade?

POLL RESULTS: If you watched the last GOP debate, what did you think about how CNBC moderated it?

The Question:

If you watched the last GOP debate, what did you think about how CNBC moderated it?

0% - I thought CNBC handled the debate just right.
79% - A profound demonstration of liberal media bias against Republicans.
10% - Some questions were inappropriate, but overall it was handled well.
11% - Didn’t watch.

Jim’s Comments:
Not surprised that John Harwood was so snarky toward the Republican candidates in the CNBC debate. And not surprised Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla looked like lightweights. But was surprised CNBC didn’t rise above the slant of their mothership, NBC, and do the job they were supposed to do: moderate a debate about the economic positions of the candidates.
If eight-of-ten of our respondents saw the blatant bias, so did millions of viewers. In their attempt to diminish the stature of the Republicans, the moderators revealed the pervasive mainstream media bias and how it often manifests as small and unprofessional behavior.
And talk about irony. CNBC’s moderating performance was so bad, it actually helped the Republicans.
Thanks for playing along. Please participate in this week’s poll below.
http://survey.constantcontact.com/poll/a07ebt51vt8igo658b9/start.html

Washington’s New Hashtag: #WithoutAnySenseOfShame

Let me tell you a story.

A boss gives an employee a project on January 1st that could easily be completed right away. This project had significant financial implications for the company. Month after month the boss checks in with the employee but finds the project still isn’t completed. The employee hasn’t done his job.

Finally, in the middle of December, almost a year later, the employee delivers the finished project as if there’s been a great accomplishment, but with two pieces of bad news: There are only two weeks left for the project to contribute to this year’s business, plus the project just delivered will be useless on January 1 without being completely reworked.

No doubt right now you’re yelling, “Who keeps an employee like this?” Or perhaps you’re saying, “This is a joke, right? No organization operates like that.” Sadly, this scenario is not only true, it’s been happening in a real organization, like in the movie Groundhog Day, for several years.

The employee in my story is Congress and the employer is America’s small business owners. The projects are 52 tax extenders which Congress has chosen to reapprove annually rather than make them permanent.

Many of these extenders are key factors in growth strategies, plus cash and tax planning for millions of businesses. Perhaps the most prominent is section 179 of the tax code. Part of this section allows and sets a limit for direct expensing of capital items in the year of acquisition, rather than depreciating those items over years.

For several years the Section 179 expensing limit, and the amount awaiting re-approval, was $500,000. But if this provision isn’t renewed it drops to $25,000. And just like in my story, instead of finishing the project permanently, Congress keeps renewing this extender each year, which wouldn’t be so bad if they did their work in January. But in 2014, without any sense of shame, Congress passed another one-year extension for the $500,000 level on December 16.

The expensing provision might not change whether you make the investment, nor the price of the purchase, but it does impact cash flow and tax planning for the year of acquisition, which is a big deal for most small businesses. If you were trying to make a 2014 equipment purchase decision, you had less than two weeks – over the holidays – to get that equipment in service in order to take advantage of the expensing option.

When you’ve read my past criticism of the anti-business practices of the political class in Washington, this is but one example. Like it or not, the tax code is very much a part of business investment decisions for companies large and small. And when investment decisions impeded at the micro level of a single purchase are aggregated across millions of businesses, it has a negative impact on economic growth. It’s not difficult to see how Congress’s failure to do their job has contributed to the moribund 2% annual GDP growth we’ve been suffering since 2009.

So here we are again feeling like it’s Groundhog Day because, like last year, Congress still hasn’t renewed the tax extenders for 2015. Next time someone asks why non-politicians are polling so high in the presidential campaigns, tell them this story.

Write this on a rock … Washington’s new Twitter hashtag should be: #WITHOUTANYSENSEOFSHAME.

Jim Blasingame is author of the award-winning book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.

POLL RESULTS: Does Trump have a chance at becoming the Republican nominee, and possibly the President?

The Question:

Does Trump have a chance at becoming the Republican nominee, and possibly the President?

16% - Trump could be the nominee, is electable, and would be a good President.
12% - I wish Trump would be the GOP nominee, but don’t think he will.
51% - Trump is a flash in the pan and will flare out before the primary is over.

20% - President Trump? God help us!
Jim’s Comments
As you may know, I often make predictions. For more than a dozen years of doing so my record is a little better than 75% accuracy. Not because I’m so smart, but because my gray hair is not premature. I pay attention to what’s going on and imagine implications.
I predicted the Great Recession would begin in 2007, the GM bankruptcy, and before Newt Gingrich had announced, that he would be leading in the polls at the end of 2011. Alas, I also predicted that Iraq would become a sovereign state and U.S. ally, and that Romney would beat Obama. As a midyear update, this year I predicted neither Clinton nor Bush would be leading their respective polls at the end of 2015 and so far, those prognostications are looking pretty good.
But I did not see the Donald Trump candidacy coming, let alone his current appeal and momentum.
When I heard Trump deliver his announcement speech, I did predict at that time that his message, “Let’s make America great again,” would resonate well.  Based on our recent poll (see results below), more than a quarter of our respondents like him. The political pollsters show Trump in the 20+% range in the polls, but as other candidates drop out, can he pick up their supporters? More than 70% of our sample would probably no.
Trump has something in common with both of the Democrat frontrunners. He’s like the thorn in Hillary’s side, Bernie Sanders, the self-avowed socialist, because they’re both authentic. Look for authenticity to be valuable political currency in 2016. But sometimes Trump’s authenticity results in, as my father used to warn me, letting his mouth overload his backside. Right now he’s spending authenticity to buy forgiveness. But unlike his billions of real capital, Trump won’t have as much redemption capital to spend. He doesn’t have to become politically correct to be nominated, but he will have to become more politically disciplined.
Trump is like Hillary in that they both have baggage. Lots and lots of baggage. While Hillary’s baggage includes potential legal weight, Trump doesn’t seem to have that. But he has led a colorful multi-media life on his way to becoming the personification of a rich self-promoter. A successful nomination will require Trump to overcome certain inelegant segments of his life, and he’ll have to divest from his empire. No small feat either. There might be a reason Ziegfeld and Barnum never ran for president.
At this moment I don’t feel froggy enough to jump to a conclusion as to whether Trump can become the Republican nominee. But I am prepared to say that Donald Trump will have a significant impact on who the Republican nominee is. And I’ll tell you who that will be, January 1, 2016.

POLL RESULTS: Will you be interested enough to watch the GOP debate on Fox?

The Question:

Will you be interested enough to watch the GOP debate on FOX this week?

62% - Yes, I’m ready to start paying attention.
17% - No, it’s still too early to start investing my time.
0% - I never watch the GOP debates - who cares?
21% - I’m only going to listen because Trump will be there.

Jim’s Comments:

It’s good news that almost two-thirds of you are ready to engage in the presidential election process. And when you add in those who’re joining the conversation merely because one of the candidates is there - in this case, Mr. Trump - that’s good news too.
So in the past 72 hours, whether you watched the debates or not, you likely know about the fireworks that have ensued since Thursday night. Believe it or not, I wrote the new poll question and response options before the debate, then went out of town. Turns out it’s never a bad bet to wager that Donald Trump will find a way to make it into the headlines.
Thanks for playing along. Please check out the new poll and let us know what you think.




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