Thursday, July 31, 2008

Schansberg calls on Hill to apologize and anticipates at least three debates

This week, Mike Sodrel proposed a town-hall meeting in each of the 9th District’s 20 counties—as well as an independent commission to regulate advertising in the campaign. Rep. Baron Hill replied by refusing the commission and trying to diminish expectations about debates.

According to a story in the News-Tribune, Hill said that he had “good reason to be skeptical of entering into campaign pledges” with Sodrel: “As history evidenced, you did not honor your word and broke our campaign pledge the last time around.” Hill said further that he wants Sodrel to apologize before he’ll agree to talk about campaign issues with him.

In response, Dr. Eric Schansberg said: “Baron needs to look in the mirror. Both of them were responsible for the nasty campaigns they ran in 2006. Baron needs to apologize as well—not only to Mike, but to everyone in the 9th District—for subjecting us to so much mud-slinging and name-calling like ‘Millionaire Mike’. I commend Mike for extending the olive branch. Maybe if they both take responsibility and apologize, we can go forward and have an honorable campaign this time.”

On the debates, Dr. Schansberg said, “Even though it was completely hypocritical, I understand why Baron wouldn’t debate gas prices earlier this summer. But since Baron demanded a lot of debates in 2006 and since he’s so good at it, I’m sure he’ll have enough character and confidence to offer at least the same three debates we had then—in Bloomington, New Albany, and Jasper. I look forward to many opportunities to debate and discuss the issues that are important to the voters of the 9th District.”

Sodrel and I gain on Hill in latest SurveyUSA poll

In the most recent WHAS11/SurveyUSA poll,

I picked up one point-- from 4 to 5%. (They report me at 4% but it should be 5% given the raw numbers.)

Sodrel picked up two points-- from 40 to 42%-- and Hill dropped 2%, from 51 to 49%.

Election Advantage talks about our campaign in a favorable light:

Also keep an eye on Libertarian Eric Schansberg, who won 4% in 2006 and gets 5% in this poll, although he draws his support evenly from both parties.

Of course, I had hoped to pick up more support than that. We worked hard in June and July-- walking 38 business districts, running a spate of 500+ radio ads, and wrapping up the county fairs. At this point, we're hoping that the multiple exposures will amount to something a lot bigger in the Fall-- planting seeds that will hopefully bear fruit as voters turn more attention to our race.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

an absolutely ridiculous Democratic press release

A ridiculous press release from the Indiana Democratic Party-- Dan Parker, Chair-- on Mike Sodrel's advocacy of the "fair tax"...

Usually, politicians will talk about costs OR benefits-- and usually it's the benefits of what they propose, ignoring the relatively subtle costs. (See, for example, the recent flurry of big spending to come out from the Democratic Congress and the Republican President: bailouts, farm bill, macro stimulus package, the Democrat proposal on "Advancing America's Priorities", and so on.)

But here we have the Democrats at the state level talking about the cost of a Sodrel proposal while completely ignoring its benefits!

Despite the rising cost of food and gas, Republican Mike Sodrel wants to raise taxes on food and gas by an additional 23 percent.

"The last thing Hoosier families need during these tough economic times is an out-of-touch millionaire like Mike Sodrel who wants to raise your taxes on food and gas by a whopping 23 percent," said Dan Parker, Indiana Democratic Party Chair....


* Mike Sodrel supports HR 25, which would impose a 23% tax on all goods and services purchased in the United States, including food. [HR25, 3/01/05]

* Sodrel's 23% gas tax would be levied in addition to the current federal gas tax, which HR 25 does not repeal

What's missing? Only a little thing like getting rid of all income and payroll taxes!

Then, they play the "Millionaire Mike" card. Classy! How about spending less time playing the class-warfare card and more time doing honest policy analysis?

* The Indianapolis Star reported that Sodrel was "one of the wealthiest members of the [Indiana] delegation," with an estimated personal worth between $6.5 million and $27.6 million.

For more information: Thomas Cook, 317.231.7125

Paid for and authorized by the Indiana Democratic Party, Daniel J. Parker, Chair.

This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.

Schansberg congratulates President Bush and Democratic Congress on world-record budget deficit

Just in time for the Olympics, the White House has predicted a $482 billion deficit for 2009—which if successful, would allow the President and the Democratic Congress to set a new world record. A $482 billion deficit would smash the current record of $413 billion in 2004. ($482 billion works out to $1,600 per person or $6,400 for the family of four.)

The 2009 deficit will extend the current national debt to more than $10 trillion. (That's $33,000 per person.) On top of that, unfunded liabilities—most notably, for Social Security and Medicare—add tens of trillions of dollars in debt.

Dr. Eric Schansberg, a professor of Economics and the Libertarian candidate for the 9th Congressional District in Indiana, noted that current debt necessarily leads to higher future taxes. And Schansberg pointed to massive increases in spending as the cause: "Tax revenues, as a percentage of GDP, are well within historical ranges. But spending has increased dramatically. With hundreds of billions of dollars for a housing bail-out, a banking bail-out, the 'macro stimulus package', the farm bill, our on-going efforts in Iraq, and so on—after awhile it adds up to real money."

Schansberg pointed to the subtle costs of the profligate spending: "The dollar has depreciated about 40% since 2002. This leads to a host of problems—most notably, higher costs of imported oil and thus, gas prices. If the dollar was as strong as it was in 2002, we'd be paying less than $3 per gallon—and there'd be very little discussion about gas prices right now."

In terms of his campaign, Schansberg observed that he is the only fiscal conservative in the race: "If you look at the data from NTU, CAGW and Club for Growth, it is obvious that Sodrel is a fiscal moderate and Hill's claim to be a fiscal conservative is laughable. If we're going to restore fiscal sanity in the federal government, we need to send principled, fiscal conservatives to Washington DC."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

maybe he'll do one of these for Baron Hill?

From Marc Murphy in the C-J...

This is reasonable accurate for Republicans-- at least those who have worked to devalue our dollar through massive spending and debt (sins of commission) and failing to take action to open up more drilling when they controlled Congress (sins of omission).

Of course, it's even more accurate for Democrats who have both of the above problems-- and in addition, are still getting in the way of increasing the domestic supply of oil.

Friday, July 25, 2008

a Delaware Libertarian keeping an eye on the national picture

article in the Jackson Co. Banner

A nice article by Steven Crawford in the Jackson County Banner...

Crawford interviewed me while I was campaigning at the Jackson Co. Fair on Tuesday night.

As a rule, politicians want potential voters to trust them. Sometimes it is all too obvious they are simply pandering to the people in an attempt to build that trust without saying anything substantive. In rare cases, however, a candidate can inspire that feeling by simply knowing what he is talking about and saying it in straight terms.

One of those rarities is Libertarian Dr. Eric Schansberg, who is running for Indiana’s Ninth District Congressional seat. Dr. Schansberg was at the Jackson County Fair on Tuesday evening and spoke candidly on issues ranging from oil to Iraq to Social Security to his campaign in general.

Dr. Schansberg will be facing Democrat Baron Hill and Republican Mike Sodrel in the November general election for the second time. His first attempt was in 2006 when he garnered 9,893 votes, or four percent. Hill won that race with 110,454 votes.

“We’re hoping to build on last time,” said Dr. Schansberg, who has been an economics professor at IU Southeast for the last 16 years. “We’re working harder. We’ve learned things, like how to run radio ads and other little nitty, gritty things.”

With gas prices at the top of most voters’ list of concerns, Dr. Schansberg’s economics background should play to his advantage. How far that advantage will go towards counterbalancing the inherent disadvantage of being a third party candidate is anyone’s guess, however.

Dr. Schansberg hopes to win the election outright, as would any candidate, but he has another goal short of winning. “My next best goal is get into double digits,” he said. He added that he could just as easily see an increase in the number of votes, but a lower percentage.

“Since it’s a Presidential election, there will be more voters,” he said. But that may not be all bad for the third party candidate, he said. “Obama is perceived as a different kind of politician. I may have some appeal to people like that.”

He should draw voters from both of the major parites, based on his positions. Economically, his views (and those of the Libertarian Party in general) should appeal to traditional Republicans. His liberal appeal stems from his position on the war in Iraq [and his policy positions that impact the working poor and middle class].

“I want the troops home sooner [than Hill and Sodrel],” he said. “Sodrel’s position is mostly the status quo. Hill has crafted a position near Sodrel’s.

“We shouldn’t have an intrusive foreign policy. Building democracies in the Middle East is not practical.”

Dr. Schansberg’s plan to lower gas prices is, in his words, a “no-brainer”, at least for the first step.

He proposes to start drilling off the Gulf Coast, which is common land and will eventually be drilled by somebody, he said. He also wants to start drilling in ANWR in Alaska, as long as it’s in “an environmentally sensitive manner.”

“The second issue is a little more sophisticated,” he said. “Forty percent of the cost of a gallon of gas is due to the devalued dollar.” If not for the weak dollar, gas would be around $2.90 a gallon and “probably not in the top ten [voter concerns],” he explained.

The cause of the devaluation is complicated, he said, but starts with increased government spending and debt. The sub-prime mortgage crisis and other government buy-outs further weaken the dollar. “What investor would want to hold a dollar right now?” asked the candidate....

He also spoke about his role as the supposed spoiler in 2006, when some people blamed him for Sodrel’s loss.

“Even if all of my votes had went to Sodrel, he still would have lost,” he said.

“Politicians like predictability. A third party candidate adds one variable to worry about. They [Hill and Sodrel] probably would rather me not run,” he explained.

And while Libertarians are thought to generally take conservative votes, the war issue makes Dr. Schansberg think a lot of Libertarian votes will come from liberals.

While explaining why he was running, Dr. Schansberg made an interesting comment: “Instead of scapegoating me, I would rather the parties run better candidates. I would rather be at home with my family than out doing this.”

For more information on the Schansberg campaign, visit

from the press conference on gas prices

Here's the video from Indiana-9...

and here is Daniel Suddeath's article in the Jeff/NA News-Tribune...

Excerpts from the article:

When Eric Schansberg decided to run for Indiana’s 9th District U.S. Congress seat, he had “no idea” gas prices would be such a hot topic....

The Libertarian candidate said as gas prices increased substantially in recent months, so did the interest level of Indiana residents.

“The price of gas has had a profound impact on the working poor,” he said. “Instead of political posturing and economic ignorance, we need public policies that will increase the supply of oil and strengthen the dollar as soon as possible.”

Schansberg has attempted to engage his competitors — Republican Mike Sodrel and incumbent Democrat Baron Hill — to a debate on gas prices, citing Hill’s insistence on a debate with Sodrel over fuel in 2006.

The debate hasn’t been agreed upon, but the three candidates are all focusing on gasoline.

Hill has introduced legislation recently in the House of Representatives that is aimed at neutralizing oil speculators.

“Many economists have estimated that excessive speculation is adding between $20 to $50 to the price of a barrel of oil,” Hill stated in a news release.

“We need to close loopholes and help reestablish oversight of the commodities markets to ensure that gas prices truly reflect the laws of supply and demand.”

Sodrel has taken his fight to a state at the center of the argument over where to turn for the future of energy.

He is due back in Southern Indiana today after a tour of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, in Alaska along with other congressional candidates.

“In the short term, we must become independent of foreign sources of traditional energy. In the long term, we need to become independent of traditional energy altogether,” Sodrel stated in a news release.

Sodrel will hold a press conference today at the Louisville International Airport to discuss his trip to ANWR.

He said he was going to Alaska to look for new sources of traditional energy to keep the nation afloat until a long-term strategy can be implemented.

That could mean domestic drilling, something Sodrel and Schansberg support in ANWR and along the Gulf Coast.

“Someone will drill off the Gulf Coast — it might as well be us,” Schansberg said.

Hill said that “contrary to recent sound bites, this Democratic Congress is supportive of drilling.”

Hill was pleased with this week’s announcement by the Bureau of Land Management to hold a major lease sale in the National Petroleum Reserve, or NPR-A, in Alaska this fall.

“The timing of the BLM’s decision could not be any better as (Thursday), the House is scheduled to consider the DRILL Act,” Hill said. “This bill calls on the BLM to speed the development of oil and gas resources in the NPR-A.”

Estimates are that the NPR-A could hold roughly 8.4 billion barrels of recoverable crude, according to Hill. He added the Alaska natural gas pipeline could create up to 100,000 jobs.

The bill was considered by the House but not has yet to receive a vote.

If passed, the measure would speed development of the NPR-A, reinstate a ban on the foreign export of Alaskan oil and require oil producers to drill on leases they already have, or relinquish them so that another company can produce oil there.

“We need to increase domestic oil production not only for short-term relief, but as part of a long-term strategy to decrease our dependence on foreign oil,” Hill said.

Schansberg, an economist at Indiana University Southeast, suggests the main driving force for high gas prices may have little to do with drilling or speculation.

“The pursuit of spending and debt has weakened the dollar by about 40 percent over the past six years,” he said. “So, 40 percent of this problem has been caused by a devalued dollar.”

Schansberg — who refers to himself as the only fiscal conservative in the race — said getting a control on spending could have a great impact on gas prices.

Schansberg said that like Hill, he believes in reducing the size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, though he thinks it will only result in a modest impact on market supply and price.

Schansberg believes an investigation into the high prices of Louisville gas being launched by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear will not yield the results residents are hoping for.

“The answer is almost certainly (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations, which dictate the sale and use of certain types of gasoline,” Schansberg said, adding the type of gas sold in Louisville is different from most other states.

“This results in otherwise surprising price differentials between counties and greater price fluctuations in these regulated markets.”

Sodrel is also not sold that investigation will lead to a solution.

“You can’t develop energy with lawsuits. We can’t create energy by raising taxes. Investigation and regulation haven’t lowered our cost at the gas pump,” he said.

As the candidates vow to keep gas prices down, they are trying to get their campaign cash up.

me and Hill on the minimum wage

From Daniel Suddeath in the Jeff/NA News-Tribune...

For more on the minimum wage, check out our website...

For better or worse, the minimum wage rate will increase from $5.85 to $6.55 an hour in Indiana beginning Thursday.

Proponents of the wage jump say it will help working families, while those opposed believe it will put a greater strain on employers, possibly leading to cutbacks in the work force.

Congress approved the first minimum wage increase in a decade in 2007, as part of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which boosts the minimum pay for workers from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over two years across the nation.

“I am proud to be part of a Congress that has raised the minimum wage to benefit our hard-working families in Southern Indiana and throughout the nation,” stated Indiana’s 9th District Congressman Baron Hill in a news release.

“This increase will help nearly 13 million Americans and 354,000 Hoosiers.”...

Morton Marcus, an independent economist formerly with the Indiana University School of Business, said it’s too early to tell what the impact of raising the minimum wage will be.

“It’s the kind of thing that people like to speculate about,” he said. “Overall, the effects are going to be very minor....A lot of this stuff is just talk by people who have for years wanted to get rid of the minimum wage and the other side who say we ought to raise it,” he said.

Eric Schansberg, the Libertarian candidate for Indiana’s 9th District Congressional seat, said the increase could actually hurt the people it’s intended to help.

“From a worker’s perspective, if you keep your job then it’s a nice thing,” said Schansberg, who is an economics professor at Indiana University Southeast.

“But if businesses are forced to release workers, those who lost their jobs are worse off.”

While workers might make more, their employers could be forced to cut back, according to Schansberg.

“It’s never helpful to businesses to drive up their costs,” he said.

Schansberg believes the impact will be minimal for most, except for workers who are raising families on minimum-wage pay.

Lowering taxes will do more to help the working class than a minimum wage increase, he said....


• In 2007, 1.73 million workers made the federal minimum wage or less, of which 1.5 million made less than the federal minimum. The reason is because companies can pay workers as little as $2.13 an hour if their wage plus tips equals the minimum.

— The Associated Press

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Indiana Libertarians in DC

Mark Rutherford (Indiana Libertarian guru) and John V. LaBeaume (editor of and former LP staffer) organized a trip to DC-- with me, Steve Keltner (running for Indiana State Senate, District 30) and Rex Bell (running for Indiana State House, District 54) as the featured guest.

Steve is running an aggressive campaign and Rex is running his second strong campaign for the same seat, after winning 14% in 2006 in a three-way race. (This time it's just him and the incumbent who earned 46% the last time.)

Although their races are more relevant to building a grass-roots organization, we're making a strong run for a federal office-- and of course, this is more sexy to people in Washington.

We were there for two purposes: to fund-raise/hob-nob; and to spread the good word about what Libertarians are doing in Indiana. Apparently, it's not all that common for state parties to work hard and smart. It doesn't seem like a big deal to us, but it's not done often enough. And if Libertarians will be successful in winning elections (beyond the important work of policy wonks), it will have to be done this way-- through hard work and a long-term grass roots effort.

We had a whirlwind day on Thursday and a good time. (I hope to have the pictures on the website soon.)

First, we met Dick Heller of Heller v. District of Columbia fame-- the recent Supreme Court case on gun control in D.C. That morning, he had tried (unsuccessfully) to register his handgun under the new DC gun legislation. As is often the case, the court system tries to correct something and the legislature chooses something within a sliver of the original legislation.

Then, we went to LP headquarters, ironically (and purposefully) located in the Watergate complex. There, they filmed an interview with the three of us.

Then, we had lunch with Reason's David Weigel.

Then, we met with Fred Smith, president of CEI, the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Smith was eloquent and passionate about communicating libertarian ideas.

Then, we met with Tim Lynch who does research on the criminal justice at Cato Institute.

After dinner and some down time, we had a fund-raiser/mixer with (mostly) young Libertarians at a bar. Bill Redpath, chair of the LP, was there as well. It was a real pleasure to talk with up-and-coming Libertarians who are finding their way in life and politics.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dems mess with Reps to hide hypocrisy and doggy-paddling policies

The Indiana Democratic party is firing back at Sodrel and two other Republicans who are going to ANWR to try to underline their policy preferences.

There is much to commend in the press release.

But Dan Parker, the chair of the party who is quoted in the release, says: "I find it bizarre that these three would choose to travel 3,500 miles to discuss energy policy with Big Oil rather than have an open discussion with voters in Indiana."

I'm with you Dan. But I also find it bizarre that Baron Hill would *repeatedly* demand a debate on gas prices in May 2006 and then refuse to have the same open discussion about the same topic in the summer of 2008 with voters in Indiana.

For some reason, the Dems are content to offer noise and froth instead of policies that will actually make a significant difference-- when the well-being of the working poor and the middle class is being hammered by higher gas and food prices. So much for helping "the common man" and the "little guy". If only the Dems would live up to that reputation!

Schansberg press conference about gas prices and energy policy on Wednesday in Jeffersonville

Eric Schansberg will hold a press conference at Warder Park in Jeffersonville on Wednesday, July 16th at 9:30 AM—to address a variety of issues about gas prices, “energy independence”, and federal policy. (Warder Park is at the corner of Court Avenue and Spring Street in downtown Jeffersonville.)

Dr. Schansberg is an economics professor at Indiana University Southeast and the Libertarian candidate for Congress in the 9th District.

In his prepared remarks, Dr. Schansberg will address:

· the importance of expanding domestic drilling of the Gulf Coast and in ANWR

· the dramatic but overlooked impact of the weaker dollar on the price of gas

· the (limited) usefulness of reducing the size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

· proposed policies that cannot significantly decrease the price of gas: windfall profits taxes and additional regulation on “speculators” and “price gougers”

· why subsidizing oil companies and alternative energy is a bad idea

· the likely reason for much higher prices (recently) in Jefferson County and Southern Indiana

Dr. Schansberg will also be pleased to field questions from members of the press about gas prices, energy policy—or anything else related to the campaign.

His remarks will be passed out at the press conference and provided by email on request.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

press release: Hill is blowing smoke on gas prices

July 8, 2008


Schansberg: Hill is blowing smoke on gas prices

During recent TV interviews on Louisville's WAVE-3 and Indy's WTHR-13, Baron Hill asserted that speculators in the futures market are causing gas prices to be as much as 50% higher. Hill cited unnamed economists in making this claim.

Eric Schansberg, an economics professor and the Libertarian candidate for Congress in the 9th District, found this incredulous. "I can't imagine an economist making that claim. If it's true, he and Baron should take advantage of their superior knowledge of the market, change their investments, and make a ton of money."

Schansberg continued: "This is doubly frustrating since Baron refuses to debate me on gas prices—after repeatedly demanding a debate on this single topic in May 2006. The funny thing is that he dismissed 'those fancy economists' during our 2006 debate in Jasper [on the minimum wage]."

Schansberg added: "I think he's confused about $2.75 per gallon gasoline. That's about the price we'd have for gas if the dollar had not been devalued since 2002. President Bush and his Congresses (including Baron Hill and Mike Sodrel) bear considerable responsibility for that, given their avid pursuit of government spending and debt.

Beyond the increasing pain at the pump over the last few years, gas prices have been even higher in Louisville and Southern Indiana recently. Schansberg said, "This is probably the result of supply and demand for the particular gasoline required by the EPA. People often imagine that there is a single market for gasoline. But EPA regulations fragment the market into what economists call 'boutique fuels'. This results in otherwise surprising price differentials between counties and greater price fluctuations in these regulated markets."

Saturday, July 05, 2008

July 4th parade in Bloomington

We participated in the July 4th parade in Bloomington and had a great time!

(I was told that Baron and Mike chose Pekin instead. While I toured the staging stations before the parade, I talked briefly with one of Baron's aides and his wife Betty-- the second time we've met (she seems quite nice). I didn't see any Sodrel reps.)

It rained quite a bit-- especially just beforehand. But not so much that we couldn't meet a lot of people. Even with the inclement weather, the crowd was quite good.

We had Brett's electric truck as our vehicle-- an electric/battery-powered truck that he built. Awesome! The truck was decorated with signs, banners and car magnets from our campaign as well as more general Libertarian messages. I had four people handing out literature as I walked around shaking hands and meeting people.

Thanks to the many people we had helping us with the event. Greg headed up the effort to organize. Greg, Andrew, Aaron, Matt and his little boy Carson handed out materials. Brett provided the vehicle. Margaret was there too-- but stayed out of the rain!

It was a pleasure to meet Andrew and Aaron. They will head up our efforts at IU this Fall.

Andrew also filmed and edited a video of the event and an interview with me (post-parade; check out that hair!).

Thursday, July 03, 2008

will these two vote for Mike or me?

While I share the disdain of these letter writers-- from Brownstown and Charlestown (hat tip: Hoosier Pundit)-- for Baron's policies on gas prices and energy...

Will Linda and Tony settle for half-way with Mike or go with the best candidate on this issue?

Mike is very good on the usefulness of more domestic drilling, but...

Mike supported higher gas prices through his votes for more govt spending and debt-- weakening the dollar and driving up the price of oil/gas. (The weakened dollar is responsible for about one-third of the increase in gas prices since 2002.)

Mike wants to take their money and give it to oil and now, alternative energy companies-- even more spending and probably another govt sink-hole for your tax dollars. (Why does Mike trust govt more than the market on this?)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

gas prices and the working poor

I'm blessed to have a great job with a comfortable income.
And so, higher gas prices are only a minor annoyance to me.
I notice and am amazed at the amount of money it now requires to fill my tank.
But that said, I just fill my tank and go on with my day.
Bottom line: It doesn't change my behavior and it doesn't change my budget (appreciably).

Not so for the working poor...

In Salem yesterday, at our gas event, it became obvious that most customers went to the gas station with the intention of putting $10 or $25 in the tank-- not to just "fill 'er up".

For people at the margin, those extra dollars for gasoline are especially painful. This is the primary reason we must change our energy policy and address this unnecessarily painful issue.

Newt on gas prices

Here's video of Newt on gas prices...

#1 is fine, but modest.
#2 is a no-brainer.
#3 is fine as long as one depends on markets, not government subsidies. (Republicans, not [fiscal] conservatives-- including my opponent-- are tempted by the latter.)

#4 is the second-most important but overlooked in general and by Gingrich. Quit weakening the dollar, most notably through the pursuit of govt spending and debt!