POLITICO Arena: Is Gov. Walker “union busting”?

Posted by Scott on February 18th, 2011 under Media, Politics  •  Comments Off on POLITICO Arena: Is Gov. Walker “union busting”?

Below is my response to today’s POLITICO Arena topic:  Wisconsin governor “union busting”?  You can see the full question and other responses here.

Scott Stanzel
Pres., Stanzel Communications, former Dpty. WH Press Secretary :
So, let me get this straight. Asking government employee union members to dedicate a small amount (5.8 percent instead of zero) to their own pension and to pay just 12.6 percent (about half the national average for private sector workers) of their health care coverage is “union busting” and amounts to an “assault” on union members? It seems to me that many mainstream media headline writers have had a little too much hyperbolic Kool-Aid and have helped fuel the rowdy government employee union protests.

Government employees used to trade the higher salaries of the private sector for the job security of public employment. That’s no longer true. Government employees make tens of thousands of dollars more per year than their private sector counterparts when their generous salaries, pensions and health benefits are tallied. The government employee unions, led by the SEIU, NEA, AFSCME and others are consistently the largest financial contributors to Democratic candidates and elected officials throughout the country. At some point, responsible leaders across the country are going to have to come to grips with the crippling effects of government employees simultaneously paying for the election of the people who are then responsible for setting their salary and benefit packages. It’s a lucrative racket.

Gov. Walker’s sensible effort to bring costs into check on behalf of Wisconsin taxpayers is simply the first modest step to bringing sanity to his state’s budget. He’s trying to make government work for the people of his state, instead of forcing them to work for the benefit of public employees.

Former Washington State Republican Party Chair Lobbies for SEIU

Posted by Scott on February 17th, 2011 under Politics  •  1 Comment

With the news that former Washington State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser has decided to work as a lobbyist for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), I thought the below chart might serve as a good reminder of how the SEIU was the largest contributor to the 2010 effort to establish a state income tax in Washington. The SEIU and its affiliates spent nearly $2.6 million advocating the state income tax, comprising 40 percent of all funding for “Yes on 1098.”

Thankfully, with the financial support of thousands of Washingtonians who knew the income tax would be a disaster for the state, voters rejected Initiative 1098 by 28 points. It’s hard to imagine a GOP chair working to advance the views of a union that wants more government spending, more government employees and greater control over all of the levers of power in Olympia.

Erik Smith at the Washington State Wire and Bryan Myrick at Red County both have stories about Esser’s alliance with the SEIU.

Fox News – Your World with Neil Cavuto

Posted by Scott on February 2nd, 2011 under Media, Politics  •  Comments Off on Fox News – Your World with Neil Cavuto

I was guest on the Fox News program “Your World with Neil Cavuto” on Tuesday, February 1.  I joined Neil to discuss California Governor Jerry Brown’s effort to raise taxes on residents of his state. In his state of the state address on January 31, Brown likened opponents of his plan to those standing in the way of democracy in the Middle East.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels wins the Roanoke Conference Straw Poll

Posted by Scott on January 30th, 2011 under Media, Politics  •  2 Comments

Press release from this weekend’s Roanoke Conference:

For Immediate Release: January 30, 2011

Contact:  Scott Stanzel, 202-445-8060


Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels Wins the Roanoke Conference Republican Presidential Straw Poll

Second Annual Conference Brings More Than 300 GOP Activists, Legislators to Ocean Shores

Ocean Shores, Washington – After a weekend of debate and discussion about important issues facing the United States at the second annual Roanoke Conference, Washington State Republican activists, legislators, young professionals and college students selected Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels as their favorite candidate to face Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

By more than a two to one margin, Roanoke Conference attendees selected Daniels as their top choice from the wide open field of potential Republican candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Sixteen potential candidates received votes.  The results were as follows:

31% – Governor Mitch Daniels, Indiana                                        

14% – Former Governor Mitt Romney, Massachusetts            

13% – Former Governor Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota                   

9% – Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey                                    

8% – Senator John Thune, South Dakota                                        

5% – Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana                                         

5% – Representative Paul Ryan, Wisconsin                                   

3% – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Georgia                

3% – Senator Jim DeMint, South Carolina                                      

3% – Former Governor Sarah Palin                                                   

2% – Governor Haley Barbour, Mississippi                                    

2% – Former Governor Mike Huckabee, Arkansas                      

2% – Representative Mike Pence, Indiana                                     

1% – Ambassador Jon Huntsman, Utah                                           

1% – Representative Michele Bachmann, Minnesota                

1% – Representative Ron Paul, Texas                                               

The Roanoke Conference is a gathering for Republicans in Washington State offering a unique forum for lively political debate, networking and instruction for those who want to get involved in local, state or national politics.  The conference brought together citizens and activists of all ages from the state of Washington to interact with Republican leaders in a fun, social setting.  While in Ocean Shores, attendees participated in debates on critical issues including a balanced federal budget, the Washington ballot initiative process, the rise of government employee union influence and redistricting.  In addition, experts provided instructional seminars on getting involved in politics and how to make a difference in the political process. 

“The enthusiasm and energy of the Republicans attending the Roanoke Conference demonstrated a desire for real and lasting change in Washington State,” said Roanoke Conference Chairman Steve Buri.  “Citizens from all over the state joined together in Ocean Shores with the common desire to advance the principles of individual liberty, the free market and limited government.  The Roanoke Conference is a clear sign of the continued resurgence of Republican ideals.”

Attendees at the conference included former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton, U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, Attorney General Rob McKenna, Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant, King County Councilman Reagan Dunn, Washington State Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur, Washington State House Republican Leader Representative Richard DeBolt, Washington State Senate Republican Whip Doug Ericksen and numerous other representatives and senators from the Washington Legislature.  The keynote speaker at this year’s Roanoke Conference was Dana Perino, Fox News contributor and former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush.

For more information about the Roanoke Conference, visit www.roanokeconference.org.  You can also follow the conference on Twitter (@RoanokeConf) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/roanokeconf).


Top 10 News Outlets for Political Junkies

Posted by Scott on January 27th, 2011 under Media, Politics, Technology  •  1 Comment

After a recent speaking engagement, I was asked by the event sponsor to provide my list of 10 recommended news publications for those who are interested in politics.  The group planned to share this list in a follow-up email to members.  The following list is what came to mind.  What have I missed?  What news outlets do you turn to for your information on politics? 

 1)     POLITICO Playbook by Mike Allen.  If you want to know what DC insiders are doing and thinking about, start your day with this tipsheet

2)     Google News.  With apologies to my Bing friends, a customized Google News page is the best way to track topics of particular interest to you. Coupled with Google News Alerts, you’ll have real time intelligence on any subject.

3)     Twitter.  Yes, Twitter is a news channel.  It’s what I check every morning before I read other news. I’ve created a Twitter list of nearly 200 reporters from Washington, DC, Iowa (my home state and a hotbed of presidential politics) and the state of Washington. I’ve also thrown in a few tech reporters for good measure.  These reporters break news via Twitter and their postings give a very clear picture about what will be on the evening news that night and the front pages tomorrow.   http://twitter.com/#!/scottstanzel/reporters

4)     POLITICO.  Their skilled reporters continue to break political news stories like no other outlet. They are equal opportunity critics of both parties.

5)     Fox News. My favorite shows are Your World with Neil Cavuto and Special Report with Bret Baier.  Neil puts politics into the perspective of what it means to business.  Bret’s straightforward news show covers DC in deeper fashion than any other evening news program and the panel provides thoughtful insights (thanks to my favorites Charles Krauthammer and Stephen Hayes) that can’t be found elsewhere.

6)     The Seattle Times.  It still guides broadcast reporting in the Evergreen State, as local TV and radio reporters use it to shape their reporting.

7)     ABC NewsThe team at ABC does the best and most balanced reporting of the three networks.  Their DC reporting flows out through all of their television, radio and Internet properties.

8)     Drudge Report.  Still serves as the shadow assignment editor for reporters around the country.

9)     The Washington Post.  Though the quality of work has slipped in recent years, this paper still does the most thorough policy reporting of the DC-focused daily publications and shapes the coverage of the Beltway broadcast reporters.

10)  The Wall Street Journal.  The editorial writing of the newspaper with the largest circulation in the United States should not be missed.  It has influence in New York, DC and everywhere else across the country (see: “The Gates of Confiscation,” which reshaped the Washington State income tax fight.)

Begrudging Bonus Suggestion:  The New York Times – Know your enemy.  The editorial page often reads like the rants of a DNC intern and is nearly as reliably/predictably liberal.

UPDATE:  After posting the list, an Iowa friend noted RealClearPolitics to me.  It’s a must for information on polling and links to great commentary.  It should’ve been on my list.

Rhonda from Fonda with a Honda

Posted by Scott on November 17th, 2010 under Varied  •  1 Comment

It's a small world, after all.

Over the past few days, I’ve been in Texas attending events in conjunction with the groundbreaking of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. As I was leaving Dallas today, I lamented on Twitter that the Dallas-Fort Worth airport is just massive. A few short moments later, something happened that reminded me of just how small this world can be.

As I was preparing to pass through the security line (hoping that I wouldn’t have a “junk” moment), a gentleman behind me in line noted my Iowa State Alumni Association book bag and asked if I went to ISU. Here’s the gist of the conversation:

“I did. Great school,” I said.

“It is. My wife graduated from ISU,” the man responded. “Are you from Iowa?” he asked.

“I am. I grew up in Northwest Iowa. My dad was a farmer.”

He said, “My wife is from Fonda” (a small town in NW Iowa).

I clarified that I was from Sac City, which is only about 20 miles from Fonda. As I was shoving my bag and boots through the scanner, I recalled the old car commercial from when I was a kid and spontaneously blurted out:

“Rhonda from Fonda with a Honda.”

“That’s my wife,” he responded with a surprised look on his face.

Shocked, I said “no way!”

Amused, he colorfully said he wasn’t kidding and explained that he didn’t know her when they filmed the commercial, but she was indeed the famous “Rhonda from Fonda with a Honda.” I told him that I thought my dad knew her or her family. He asked what my name was. I responded and added that my dad was Ned Stanzel. He told me that Rhonda’s dad was involved in the ag business as a cattle buyer and postulated that maybe that’s how they knew each other.

We both managed to avoid the intrusive pat-downs and gathered our belongings. I asked him what year the commercial was made and he said it was from 1984 (when I was 11 years old). He said that Rhonda’s nephews had put the commercial on YouTube, if I wanted to see it. We exchanged business cards and I wished him safe travels.

As I was early for my flight, I sat down to grab something to eat. I opened up my laptop and pulled up the YouTube video of “Rhonda from Fonda with the Honda.” I then remembered why my dad knew Rhonda. It’s because they were relatives. Rhonda hailed from the Fulcher family.

I called my mom to tell her about the encounter. Amused, she retraced the family tree for me.
Carrie Fulcher was my great grandmother.  She married George Stanzel.  Their son, Fred, was my grandfather. Carrie Fulcher was an aunt to George Fulcher, who was Rhonda from Fonda’s father.

With his business card from our exchange in hand, I sent an email to Rhonda’s husband, Thomas Coon. I clarified the Stanzel – Fulcher connection and told him that we had a parcel of land in the family that was called the “Fulcher Farm.”

Even at a place as large as DFW, you never know when you’ll have a chance encounter that will remind you of how small world really is. Below is the video from the 1984 “Rhonda from Fonda with a Honda” commercial. Also, here’s a little video that was put together highlighting some of the buzz the commercial created.

UPDATE:  Thanks to the magic of email, I’ve reconnected with Rhonda and other members of the Fulcher family today.  I’ve updated the post for accuracy with one change to the genealogy and to reflect that the “Fulcher Farm” land was sold back to the Fulchers a few years ago.  A small, small world.

VIDEO: Fox News interview on “Decision Points”

Posted by Scott on November 9th, 2010 under Media, Politics  •  Comments Off on VIDEO: Fox News interview on “Decision Points”

The Wall Street Journal – The Defeat of 1098

Posted by Scott on November 8th, 2010 under Media, Politics  •  Comments Off on The Wall Street Journal – The Defeat of 1098

The Wall Street Journal editorial page highlights the resounding defeat of Initiative 1098, Washington’s proposed state income tax, in today’s paper.

Washingtonians Who Get It
Bill Gates Sr. goes down, 65%-35%.

The Pacific Coast was a liberal refuge last week, save for one saving grace note: Voters in Washington trounced the initiative sponsored by Bill Gates Sr. and public unions to introduce the state’s first income tax.

What was especially interesting about I-1098 is that it would have applied only to “wealthy” Washingtonians. The rate would have been 5% on individuals with incomes above $200,000 and couples over $400,000 (rising to 9% at $500,000/$1 million). The zero personal tax rate would have remained for everyone else. “Only the wealthiest 1.2% will pay more,” Mr . Gates said. This is an echo of the argument made in the other Washington on behalf of letting the Bush tax rates expire “only on millionaires and billionaires.”

Mr. Gates and labor unions spent some $4 million on the proposal. Mr. Gates argued that the state’s reliance on the sales tax burdened the poor and that taxing the state’s wealthiest was a matter of fairness. It was widely noted that his opposition included Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who with others said it would kill one of the state’s biggest economic advantages.

The initiative lost overwhelmingly, by a vote of 65% to 35%, leaving Washington as one of nine states without an income tax. Not stopping there, Washington voters also approved an initiative requiring either a two-thirds supermajority vote of the legislature or voter approval to raise taxes.

So what’s the matter with Washington? Clearly, its middle-class residents understand an economic reality that eludes Mr. Gates and many other already-rich advocates of higher taxes: The absence of an income tax has been Washington’s greatest comparative advantage over its high-income tax neighbors in California and Oregon. Texas Governor Rick Perry even sent a letter to Washington state’s biggest employers, inviting them to move to no-income-tax Texas.

The larger message, which also eludes the nation’s leading proponent of soak-the-rich tax ideas—the fellow in the Oval Office—is that the average person simply doesn’t believe that the taxers will stop with the wealthy. To protect both themselves and the greater economy outside their windows, voters prefer a tax system whose rates aren’t rising—on anyone.

Neil Cavuto comments on WA income tax fight

Posted by Scott on November 4th, 2010 under Media, Politics  •  Comments Off on Neil Cavuto comments on WA income tax fight

Fox Business – Varney & Co

Posted by Scott on October 12th, 2010 under Media, Politics  •  Comments Off on Fox Business – Varney & Co

This morning, I was a guest on Varney & Co. on Fox Business with host Stuart Varney. We discussed the state income tax fight in Washington.