IA-02: Archer highlights "jobs plan" in new tv ad

Republican Congressional candidate John Archer is up on cable television with a new commercial promoting his jobs plan. Follow me after the jump for the video, transcript, and analysis.

Archer announced late last week that this 30-second spot would go on the air beginning May 5:

My annotated transcript:

Male voice-over: China is on the rise, [Asian-sounding music plays in background, blurry crowd scene on screen, cover of The Economist magazine in center with headline, “Buying up the world: The coming wave of Chinese takeovers”]

cornering the market for rare earth minerals. Failure in Washington is costing us all. [Blurry footage of trucks on roads, words in center of screen: “The era of cheap rare earth supplies from China is doomed to end as the country tightens control over the precious resources…China Daily, News Report, Posted: Mar 13, 2012”]

John Archer works with global business units at John Deere. [soundtrack switches to patriotic American-sounding music, Archer wears work goggles, talks with employee on what looks like the John Deere factory floor. John Archer for Congress campaign logo is near bottom of screen]

His jobs plan calls for fewer government regulations on job creators. [more footage of Archer with factory workers; words LESS GOVERNMENT on screen]

and an energy policy that promotes domestic drilling. [footage of Archer on a farm, talking with farmer; words USE AMERICAN OIL on screen]

Archer walking toward camera, speaking to camera: We must choose to compete if we’re to grow jobs here at home. I’m John Archer, and I approved this message because it’s time to bring business sense back to Congress. [in middle of last sentence view fades to a screen with the Archer for Congress logo and website]

Clearly I’m not Archer’s intended audience, but this commercial strikes me as three parts tired cliche and one part non-sequitir. When will smart people stop pretending that we can solve our country’s energy problems by drilling more and using more American oil? Energy industry analysts don’t share in that delusion. That won’t stop Archer, whose first district-wide radio commercial promoted the oil drilling fantasy.

As for deregulation sparking a magic wave of job creation, no competent business owner would rush out to hire new staff solely because the government repealed some rule. Companies hire additional workers when managers anticipate more demand for their goods or services than they can meet with their current workforce.

The focus on China allegedly “cornering the market for rare earth minerals” is a curious way to open a Congressional campaign ad. Nothing in the rest of the script suggests that Archer knows how to reverse that trend. I guess the point is to highlight Archer’s “global” business experience, in contrast to GOP rival Dan Dolan’s career as a local home-builder.

But Archer’s ad misrepresents the Economist cover story from November 2010. The editors of that conservative, business-oriented magazine didn’t depict China “buying up the world” as a problem to be remedied or a consequence of Washington failures. On the contrary, the Economist editors wrote:

[T]he spread of Chinese capital should bring benefits to its recipients, and the world as a whole. […]

Private companies have played a big part in delivering the benefits of globalisation. They span the planet, allocating resources as they see fit and competing to win customers. The idea that an opaque government might come to dominate global capitalism is unappealing. Resources would be allocated by officials, not the market. Politics, not profit, might drive decisions. Such concerns are being voiced with increasing fervour. Australia and Canada, once open markets for takeovers, are creating hurdles for China’s state-backed firms, particularly in natural resources, and it is easy to see other countries becoming less welcoming too.

That would be a mistake. China is miles away from posing this kind of threat: most of its firms are only just finding their feet abroad. Even in natural resources, where it has been most active in dealmaking, it is not close to controlling enough supply to rig the market for most commodities. […]

China’s advance may bring benefits beyond the narrowly commercial. As it invests in the global economy, so its interests will become increasingly aligned with the rest of the world’s; and as that happens its enthusiasm for international co-operation may grow. To reject China’s advances would thus be a disservice to future generations, as well as a deeply pessimistic statement about capitalism’s confidence in itself.

Perhaps Archer doesn’t need to explain what “failure in Washington” is “costing us all” in terms of Chinese economic expansion. The connection may be self-evident to the Republican primary voters Archer is trying to reach. For all I know, images stoking fear about China’s rise may align viewers with the candidate.

Still, I’m old-fashioned: if you open an ad with a major problem confronting the country, I believe you should offer a solution to that problem.

On that note, a candidate should draft a real “jobs plan” before touting said plan in a television commercial. The issues page on Archer’s campaign website is thin. Here’s the entire section on “Job Creation”:

Much of this country’s greatness comes from our unique history of personal liberty and our economic prowess. The two are connected. So when we talk about curing our economic problems, I want you to think Private Enterprise, Long Term and Sustainable.

Our economy is made up of three sectors:

Consumer = 70%

Investment = 15%

Trade = 15%

The reason we are not seeing a recovery and the reason the Obama stimuli are not working is because the Obama administration’s policies are not encouraging job-creators to risk their capital to invest in job creation. Today, small business owners are afraid of Obamacare, heavy-handed bureaucrats and the threat of higher taxes.

Investment covers infrastructure, plant and equipment and the like. If we don’t want big government to be the answer, then we need to clear the path for private industry to solve this.

The solution: Allow companies to repatriate their overseas income without a tax burden. Second remove burdensome regulations that don’t pass the cost/benefit analysis. Third, repeal the impending job-killing impacts of Obamacare. This unconstitutional law is a monstrosity waiting for federal bureaucrats to coopt our personal health care and make it the business of an impersonal agency in Washington.

If we want companies to invest in the US, we not only need to make these changes, but we need to let business know that they will be around for more than a short window of time. President Obama has issued minimal relief on certain taxes and rules for a year or two but companies have timeframes of a decade or more when they make these kinds of job-creating projections.

These three changes will give American small business the incentive to begin reinvesting in jobs.

As the saying goes, there’s not much “there” there. Archer’s primary opponent, Dan Dolan, hits many of the same talking points on his own very brief issues page. Here’s the full text from the Dolan campaign website:

Create Jobs

With over 20 years experience as a successful small business owner, Dan Dolan understands what it takes to create jobs – in his years as a homebuilder, he has created hundreds. Dan has exactly the kind of know-how America needs to turn around our economy and put Americans back to work.

Dan knows government doesn’t create jobs – the private sector does that.  He will fight to end burdensome regulations that harm our small businesses. Dan will work to ensure that America is once again a place where people can open businesses, hire people, and reinvest in their communities.

Cut the Deficit

Career politicians have done nothing to slow the growth of government. Dan will take the lessons he has learned during his years in business to make necessary cuts, create efficiencies, and get rid of programs and spending that get in the way of your family’s future. Dan knows America cannot continue adding an unsustainable $4 billion a day to our national debt. He will make sure Congress lives on a budget, just as every family, homeowner, farmer and business owner in Eastern Iowa does.

Forge a Common Sense Domestic Energy Policy

Dan knows from personal experience that America can be the global energy leader as long as our government doesn’t cripple domestic energy production. We have hundreds of years of energy resources within our borders and we can create thousands of good paying American jobs and reinforce our national security with a common sense domestic energy policy. Dan knows low cost energy is a critical part of America’s economic resurgence and job growth. Energy independence is vitally important to America’s future.

Less than a month before the primary, Archer and Dolan seem focused on raising their own name recognition and making a good impression on Republican voters. I would be surprised to see a lot of negative campaigning in this GOP primary.

Any comments about the second Congressional district race are welcome in this thread.

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