Tag Archives: Economy

Update: Obama’s Digital Campaign

A few days after the election, I wrote about President-elect Obama’s decentralized entrepreneurial campaign, which fully exploited the Web and trusted people at the edge. Here’s a post-election debrief from the technology team — the so-called Triple-O — that made it happen. They offer a final tally of metrics:

— two million “MyBO” Web-volunteer profiles

— 13 million e-mail addresses

— more than half a billion dollars raised online

— three million online donors gave 6.5 million donations

— average online contribution of $80

— more than 200,000 volunteer-organized offline events

As I pointed out, this innovative “capitalist” campaign clashed with many of Obama’s tax-regulate-and-centralize policy proposals. We’ll see if the new President learns anything from his successful campaign and puts it to use reigniting the economy.

We Know Exactly What We’re Doing

With the government doing so many things so quickly to relieve problems it really doesn’t understand very well, what will be the results? Do we know? Do they? Not really. Not really at all. Just one unintended consequence among many cited today by Brian Wesbury:

Take, for example, the extension of unemployment benefits enacted in June. Normally, jobless benefits are available for 26 weeks. The extension, which will last temporarily through early next year, added another 13 weeks. Following this, between June and October – in only four months – the unemployment rate has risen from 5.5% to 6.5%, a full percentage point.
What’s odd about the jump in the jobless rate is that it has been accompanied by an unusual increase in the number of people who say they are looking for work. Normally, when the unemployment rate leaps upward we see a decline in the share of the population either working or looking for work (what economists call the participation rate). Not this time.
In order to receive unemployment benefits, a person must be looking for work, so the extension of benefits is artificially coaxing many people who would no longer be in the workforce at all to say they are still looking for work, just so they can continue to collect benefits. The unintended consequence is that the unemployment rate is boosted faster and further than normal in a recession, making it more likely that policymakers further extend benefits, boosting the deficit and pushing up future tax payments.

Obama’s Entrepreneurial Lesson

From my article in Friday’s Wall Street Journal:

If Barack Obama ran for president by calling for a heavier hand of government, he also won by running one of the most entrepreneurial campaigns in history.

Will he now grasp the lesson his campaign offers as he crafts policies aimed at reigniting the national economy? Amid a recession, two wars, and a global financial crisis, will he come to see that unleashing the entrepreneur is the best way to raise the revenue he needs for his lofty priorities?

Read the whole op-ed here, and listen to a brief radio interview here.