Vol. 51, No. 1

In this edition

Chaos is easy. Governance is hard. And in that regard, America’s new President has a long way to go. The goal of this edition of the Forum is to look at ways that the President and Congress can provide the American people with value for their tax dollars.

Continuing the Shift on Cuba

While engagement with Cuba may not result in unprecedented levels of economic growth or immediate peace and prosperity in the region, there are numerous benefits that could be realized if we continue to shift away from the Cold War mentality of isolation.

Continuing Unilateral Concessions Towards Cuba is not in the U.S. Interest

We must pursue a Cuba policy that enables and fosters a democratic transition and ends the rule of the Castro regime. There are few things more “America First” than fixing what Obama broke in Cuba.

How Republican Governors are Turning New England Red

The question facing Republicans in New England is whether GOP victories at the gubernatorial level can usher in a new political order at other levels of government, as well.

Even the OECD Admits Big Government Undermines Prosperity

The OECD’s economists have crunched numbers and determined that reducing the burden of government spending can boost GDP by an average of 10 percent.

Value: The New Watchword in Washington

Americans want value for their tax dollars. Which is why the ultimate test for the President and Congress will not be their allegiance to old Republican mantras. It will be their ability to convince Americans that their tax dollars are finally being put to good use.

How to Make America Great Again with Domestic Energy Resources

The legendary businessman offers his advice on how the new President can secure our nation’s energy future, and outlines the plan he has authored to do just that.

Making Social Security Last For All

Protecting Social Security will not only preserve this important program for future generations, but will send a message to taxpayers that their money is being well spent.

Stretching the School Dollar

The U.S. spends close to $700 billion a year on K-12 schooling, yet our results are middle-of-the pack and our colleges are beset by price inflation and unhelpful degrees.

Getting a Better Return on Our Health Dollars

The average American pays over $9,000 for health care each year, and yet the life expectancy of the average American ranks 42nd in the world.

Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure

As Congress and the new President look to rebuild America’s aging infrastructure, a look at how they can overcome some of the obstacles that have stood in their way.

Ripon Society Releases Results of its 2nd Annual Survey of the American Electorate

On February 2, The Ripon Society released the results of its 2nd Annual Survey of the American Electorate. The survey asked voters for their views on issues ranging from health care to tax reform to the proper role of government in our lives.

Ripon Profile of Todd Young

The new Senator from Indiana talks about the message of his winning campaign and the challenges facing the people of the Hoosier State this year.

Ripon Society Releases Results of its 2nd Annual Survey of the American Electorate

Ripon Poll 2017 - mapPoll points to reducing health care costs as top economic priority, and finds that challenges to repealing Obamacare remain

WASHINGTON, DC – The Ripon Society today released the results of its 2nd Annual Survey of the American Electorate.  This year’s survey explored voter sentiment in a number of key areas, including:

  • Economic Priorities – the survey found that voters identified reducing the cost of health care (23%) and creating jobs (17%) as the two most important economic issues facing America.
  • Health Care Reform – 47% approve of Obamacare in the survey, while 50% disapprove of it.  The poll also found broad support for key provisions of the law, except for the universal coverage requirement, to which 65% said they are opposed.  In terms of timing, 59% of voters would not think the President had broken his promise to end Obamacare if repeal and replace took two years.
  • Tax Policy – the poll found that 81% of voters favor changing tax policy so that sales of made in America products are taxed less than products made overseas.  On the question of lowering the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, 45% of voters support it, while 50% are opposed.
  • Trade – 56% support renegotiating or ending trade deals even if goods cost more, 68% support taking action against currency manipulators like China, and 72% support an import tax on goods from production that has been moved off-shore.
  • Government Accountability – 79% agree that federal regulations should have a sunset provision, while 94% agree that federal government programs should be subjected to regular performance reviews (which is the highest response of any proposal tested in the survey.)

To read the analysis of the survey, please click here.  To view the accompanying presentation slides, please click here.

The survey was conducted the second week of January, and follows-up on a nationwide poll that the 55 year-old centrist Republican public policy organization conducted in December 2015.  The survey was conducted for The Ripon Society by veteran GOP strategist Ed Goeas. Goeas previewed the findings at a luncheon meeting of The Ripon Society last Thursday.  In his presentation, Goeas touched on the fact that the poll revealed that Americans continue to hold the federal government in extremely low regard.  However, he added, that does not necessarily mean that Americans don’t want government to work.

“When asked, ‘Is government part of the problem or part of the solution?’ Goeas stated, “65% today say it’s part of the problem.  A year ago, 68% said it was part of the problem. We also saw something that was new in the data last year from what we’ve seen over the years.  We asked, ‘Is the federal government doing enough, too much, or about right amount?’  What we saw last year is what we saw again in the survey today.  66% of the American public said that government is not doing enough. Now, they think government’s the problem. But they also say government is not doing enough.

“Don’t take this to mean that people want more government or bigger government. They want effective government.  That is very deeply held with those voters. They’re not going to change overnight just because Trump says he’s going to make America great again. But it is an opportunity to play to those voters and bring them in.”

Goeas also talked about repealing Obamacare, and the challenges facing both Congress and the President in that regard.

“As much as we talk about the need to repeal and replace of Obamacare,” the strategist observed, “we need to understand that voters are no longer there.  To them, the problem is not Obamacare. The problem is the cost of health care. We need to understand that everything we do on health care has to answer the question of, ‘What is this going to do to lower costs?” Because if we don’t do that, we’re going to be sitting here four years down the road with voters saying, ‘You changed things, but health care costs got worse.’  Because to them, it only goes two directions — it either gets better, or it gets worse.”

“Everything that we tested — whether it was affordability, pre-existing conditions, or children being insured by their parents up until 26 — all of those proposals got very high responses. If you look at the approval rating of Obamacare, it’s virtually a 50/50 split. The one thing that kind of jumped out as not positive is the requirement that all Americans either purchase health insurance or pay a substantial fine to the federal government.  65% said they did not favor that. So basically they want all those things, but the one thing that may help prop it up — which was always the mistake of Obamacare — they don’t want anything to do with.”

Goeas also discussed tax reform and some of the proposals voters were asked about in that regard.

“With regard to allowing U.S. companies to move profits earned and taxed overseas into the United States at a corporate tax rate of 10%,” he reported, “it was a plurality support, but not a majority support.  47% support it, but 39% are opposed.  Strongly support to strongly oppose was 21% to 20%, so the intensity was down on both sides.  But one of the things I see in this measurement is that there are a lot of undecided voters.  They don’t quite know what all this means.  And if, in fact, as it has been rumored, you tie a proposal like this with something like paying for infrastructure, these numbers are going to change very, very quickly.”

Goeas opened his presentation by talking about last year’s election and why the unpopularity of both presidential candidates made it such a unique political year.

“Never before in politics have we had two nominees that had over a 50% unfavorable rating,” he said.  “We had absolutely no idea what the impact of that was going to be.  Those numbers never changed. Both candidates started off with a 55% unfavorable rating and never dropped below that point, except for a couple of points in a couple of surveys along the way. The only thing that changed was that the intensity of those negatives increased for both candidates.  In the case of Trump, the intensity of his positives also increased with the voters — something that Hillary did not see.”

“There were only 2% of voters who liked both candidates. That remained constant all the way through the campaign.  There were 18% who disliked both candidates.  The difference was on Election Day they voted 49%-29% for Donald Trump.   That is what put him over the top. At the end of the day, that group of voters decided, ‘I may not like him personally, but I don’t like her at all.’  And one of the things I joke about with some Republicans who still don’t like Trump are those Republican voters who were unfavorable towards him last year.  It’s like having a doctor and you hate his bedside manner, but you’re hopeful that he’s going to save your life. That is where a certain group of Republican voters are today.”

“After he was elected, his name awareness improved by a net 25 points overnight.  He was at a 60% unfavorable rating on Election Day. He’s now down in the mid 40’s. He was at low 30’s in terms of favorables, he’s now up into the 40’s. All the talk going into the Inauguration about his having the lowest favorability rating of anyone in modern history — first, if Hillary Clinton had been elected, she would have been suffering from the same problem; and, number two, there was the 25 point improvement.  Even though he’s still upside down by a couple of points in his unfavorables, there is still that improvement. It is those Republicans coming home and saying, ‘I may not like his bedside manner, but he may save my life.’”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.