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Obama’s #Compromise Twitter Campaign Prompts Debt Ceiling Agreement

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Posted At: August 25, 2011 9:14 PM
by Jaclyn McNeil
When congressional leaders and President Obama announced that an agreement had been reached over the U.S. debt ceiling and looming debt crisis, the world of Twitter weighed in.

The agreement came after Obama urged the public to tweet their congressmen using the hashtag #compromise. @BarackObama tweeted “The time for putting party first is over. If you want to see a bipartisan #compromise, let Congress know. Call. Email. Tweet—BO.”

According to fanpagelist.com, with almost 9.5 million followers, Obama is the third most-followed tweeter behind Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.

Obama’s staff took charge of his Twitter account tweeting the lawmakers in each state and asking users to “tweet to your Republican representative and ask them to support a bipartisan solution to the deficit crisis.” His aides posted the Twitter addresses of more than 230 Republican lawmakers.

According to NM Incite, after Obama’s Twitter call to the public, #compromise had been used more than 22,000 times and reached 36 million users. NM Incite said 40 percent of @BarackObama mentions and 28 percent of the #compromise tweets expressed positive sentiment; however, @BarackObama lost more than 36,000 followers.

Richard Meyer, executive director of Online Strategic Solutions, said Obama lost followers due to over-tweeting.

“A lot of people were hoping to get some insight into Obama and the way he was thinking and instead they got more ads and calls to action,” said Meyer. “Nobody wants to be told what to do.”

Many people got tired of hearing about the crisis. It was the topic of so many newscasts, and with the current economy we are bombarded with messages about how bad it is — people do not want to be reminded of that.

“Action speaks louder than words,” said Meyer. “People have given up hope that politicians can do anything to spur up the economy.”

Brian Kirwin, government relations and political consultant for Rourk PR, said that no matter what medium politicians use to communicate the message, at the end of the day, it better be a positive message.

“The ultimate PR lesson is to understand the political audience,” said Kirwin. “People care more about their home budget than they will ever care about the federal budget and asking people to sacrifice on a household level for the betterment of the federal government is flawed from the start.”

The debt ceiling deal put a cap on domestic and defense spending, ensuing in cuts of $917 billion over 10 years in return for a two-stage increase in the debt ceiling of $900 billion. A bipartisan 12-member committee of Congress composed equally of Republicans and Democrats will have until Nov. 23 to create a proposal to cut $1.5 trillion in spending that Congress must approve by Dec. 23.

Alabama State Senator Trip Pittman said Congress didn’t do what it needed to do in coming to a debt agreement, which is to reduce spending.

“The big government wins and the citizens of the country lose,” said Pittman. “When you spend more money than you have you erode the value of your dollar, which makes everything cost more.”

To repair other countries’ negative perception of the United States as a debt liability and to repair our image as unworthy of credit, the United States needs to show that we can pay our bills. The most important thing America can do for the international economy is to stabilize the U.S. dollar and get people back to work. Americans need to gain long-term confidence in the fiscal stability of the United States.

The deal did little to help the markets either. According to The Caucus, the politics and government blog of The New York Times, until just recently, the stock market had been on a steady increase of almost 30 percent from June 30, 2010, to July 22. But in the first couple of weeks following the agreement, the market suffered an unexpected correction, giving back nearly 1,300 points on the Dow, more than 500 of which were given back just days after reaching the debt ceiling agreement.

“Markets are stronger than governments,” said Pittman. “The debt deal is unsettling to markets. The deal did not do anything to stop our excessive spending in the current economy and the markets are going to react to that.”

Obama’s urging of Americans to make their voices heard worked in the short term. According to Ad Week, a White House aide said that the flood of emails and tweets sent out to pressure decision makers to reach an agreement helped move the debt deal along.

“[Obama] knew it was time to energize Americans and there is no better way to do that than through social media,” said Meyer.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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