Former Missouri Congressman Todd Akin is the author of, “Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom.” Akin made some very controversial comments about rape and abortion, which cost him a seat in the Senate.
Akin discusses what he really meant by his comments. He also shares which Republicans betrayed him during his demise. Akin then discusses the current state of the Republican Party. He also hints at what’s next for him…
Todd Akin’s book “Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom” on Amazon.com
(2:09) Why people rent rather than buy
(9:16) An example of a Little Rock property
(18:16) Introducing Congressman Todd Akin to the show
(20:48) Congressman Todd Akin addresses his offensive comments
(24:49) Congressman Todd Akin talks about the liberal media
(26:13) Party bosses
(31:40) A Congressman’s thoughts on writing to your Congressman
(34:15) On money in elections
(42:34) What’s next for Todd Akin
ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Creating Wealth with Jason Hartman! During this program Jason is going to tell you some really exciting things that you probably haven’t thought of before, and a new slant on investing: fresh new approaches to America’s best investment that will enable you to create more wealth and happiness than you ever thought possible. Jason is a genuine, self-made multi-millionaire who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. He’s been a successful investor for 20 years and currently owns properties in 11 states and 17 cities. This program will help you follow in Jason’s footsteps on the road to financial freedom. You really can do it! And now, here’s your host, Jason Hartman, with the complete solution for real estate investors.
JASON HARTMAN: Hey, it’s Jason Hartman, and I wanted to welcome you to the Creating Wealth Show! This is episode #409. Today our guest will be former Congressman Todd Akin! Yes, that’s the Congressman from Missouri. He’s the author of a new book entitled Firing Back; I think you’ll be interested in what he has to say. As you may recall, there was a pretty big scandal surrounding Todd Akin, and I didn’t really follow the story, I didn’t know much about him, but we had him on the show, and I just thought it was kind of an interesting interview to share with you, so we’ll get to him in just a few moments here.
But first, a couple of things from the last episode where we talked about refi till you die. The first thing is, and if you’re a regular listener, you know I tend to go off on very, very interesting tangents. I was talking about the three basi8c types of markets. There is the linear market, there is the cyclical market, and there’s the hybrid market. And I was giving examples of them. And when I was talking about how in some of these markets, these linear markets, especially the ones that we recommend, it really would make sense for as much of that population as possible to go out and buy a home rather than renting the home. And it’s sort of a paradox, and a question that I have, and other people have, as to why don’t they do that?
Why people rent rather than buy
It makes complete sense for them to become homeowners rather than home renters. Rather than renting from us, you know, it would make sense for them to go and buy. Why don’t they do that? And the first reason, and we made a whole list of these reasons years ago. But the first reason is financial immaturity. And then I got into the talk about the linear, the cyclical, and the hybrid markets. And my point there that I don’t know that I adequately made on the last episode—in the linear markets, the markets we recommend, the psychology of the people there is a lack of urgency. See, when you have these cyclical markets where there are these rollercoaster rides in terms of property values, where they go up to enormous highs, where they’re just totally nonsensical, and you see this in all of the more expensive markets with high land values, and bad LTI.
Now—you’ve heard me talk about LTI before, but that is part of my risk evaluator model, where you can dramatically, dramatically minimize the risk when investing in property, in real estate, in income property. And the LTI ratio that I talk about it called the land-to-improvement ratio. So, in markets where you have bad LTI ratios, and those are the expensive, non-linear, cyclical markets—those markets we don’t recommend. But in those markets, people do generally, at least when things are going up, they have a great interest in buying. And they will beg, borrow, and steal to buy a home. But in the linear markets, where the values just increase slowly, at somewhere around the national average of 6% annually—in those markets, the people don’t have that type of urgency!
So, this is one of the reasons a lot of renters don’t buy. And you know, the same is true, if you think about it, with inflation. Inflation is the greatest way ever for a government to transfer wealth, and the greatest way ever for a government to tax its population. Because people don’t really notice it or pay attention to it in any real way. It’s like, how do you boil a frog? You put the poor frog in a pot with nice warm luxurious water. And it’ll be like a sauna. Nice warm bath. Very comfortable. And then you turn up the heat slowly and the frog just gets so tired and complacent and lazy that he doesn’t bother to jump out. Now, if that water were scalding hot initially, and you dropped the frog in there, he’d jump right out and save himself! And this is what’s happening to renters who live in linear markets. They should be buying, absolutely, but they don’t have the urgency and the financial foresight and the financial maturity to see that, because they’re being boiled slowly.
I hope you don’t mind my analogy; it’s the only thing I could think of there. And the same is true with inflation. Inflation does the same thing to people. Now, we understand inflation, and we understand, as listeners to the show, we understand the time value of money, and we understand the importance of investing to protect ourselves from this pickpocket, this liar, and thief, called inflation, that slowly drains away the wealth of most people. But, if we play the game right, and we follow the advice that I’ve outlined on the show, we know that that is a tremendous tool for enriching us. Even when the inflation rate is very low, even when it’s only 2 or 3 or 4% annually, you know, even by official numbers, which are always understated, this can be a very, very powerful tool when you add it up over a few years.
Just a point there that I wanted to reiterate or drive home from the last show. And also on the last show, I talked about how there is so much hidden wealth in income properties that are owned free and clear, and I want to thank our listener Kathy who emailed me the answer to my question that I didn’t bother to calculate, and to our editor, Patrick, who emailed me a resource of a calculator that does these big giant numbers. Now, I completely understand, people, that you can add and subtract zeroes and get to the number that way. I know that, I learned that in grade school. But I just want to get my intro done, and didn’t have time to calculate it. So, here is the answer to the question from our listener Kathy, thank you so much for writing in with this. There’s about $3 trillion in single-family home value owned by people, and that’s in 14 million properties. And they are largely free and clear. This represents a huge store of wealth. And what I didn’t know off hand on the last episode is, I thought, what is the average property value of those properties? Well, Kathy did the math for us, and she says, it’s $214,285.71. The average price investment property in the US that’s sitting there with all this wealth stored up in it, is $214,000.
Now, we would always recommend that you come in far below those prices. In fact, in any area that we recommend, we’re pretty much always recommending that your investment property target, your sweet spot, be slightly below the median price in that marketplace. Where you’re still getting high quality, middle class properties, and high quality tenants. These are the A-tier properties. By the way, we divide our properties up into three tiers, A, B, and C, and these are the A-tier type properties, and those usually make fantastic investment properties. Fantastic income properties. We’ve got our Little Rock Property Tour coming up, and as of yesterday I was copied on an email where our provider is going to start storing inventory for the people that are joining us on the tour at the end of the month. If you don’t have your ticket for that, please join us. We have a relatively small group at this tour. One of our clients, who was considering attending, emailed me recently and asked, am I going to be able to spend some time with you? And I said, yes! This is going to be a pretty small group. At least so far.
So, if you’d like to get really good access, and some really good time with me, this would be the best event for that. If you’ve been to our Creating Wealth events, or our Meet the Masters events—those are great for very different reasons, but they’re big, you know, there’s 100 people, and I’m torn in many directions. So, you know, I can’t spend that much time with any one person. But at this event it looks like we’ll have some real, as they say, quality time. So, we’ll do that. Arrive on Friday night, seminar all day Saturday, very small groups, so, lots of Q&A, lots of interaction at that. That’ll be great. It’ll be more like a big board meeting, possibly. And then on Sunday we’ll tour the properties, and of course we’ll have dinner together Saturday night, and some good socializing and networking, things like that.
An example of a Little Rock property
Here’s an example of a nice little Little Rock property. Little little. [LAUGHTER]. And this property is just over 1200 square feet. $89,000. About $21,000 will get you into the property. Subject to qualifying, of course. And again, it rents for more than 1% of the value. The rent on this one is 950 per month, and let me just tell you, is that projected, or is this already rented? Many of our properties are pre-rented. And on this one, I do not know. So I’m going to just say it’s projected. And as we’re looking at this projection, and all these numbers here, the cap rate—the capitalization rate—and again, we’re not in love with that as a metric, as you know. It leaves out two very important factors. But it’s good for comparison, because if you were going to invest in overpriced markets, like markets in New York, Miami, California, Chicago, anything in the Pacific Northwest that is beautiful, and we’d love to be doing business in Oregon and Washington State. But it’s just too expensive. Just unfortunately it doesn’t work.
Many years ago I did some business in Oregon, in Redmond, Oregon, but again, we haven’t been able to make the numbers work in some of these places. And in Boise, Idaho, a little too expensive as well. Again, we’re area agnostic. We have no physical presence in these markets, which is great for you, because we can move in and out of these markets very efficiently. And if investors that we have already bought properties there, and they’re stabilized, where they don’t need to enter the market today, heck! You just keep your property and enjoy it! Enjoy the cash flow, and enjoy the appreciation. Good for you. But, would we say, enter these markets today? No, we would not say that. We gotta go where it makes sense. And it makes sense in the markets on our website at JasonHartman.com, and one of those markets is Little Rock, where we’ve got our tour coming up.
So, the cap rate here is 8.2%. And you know, your typical California property, or property in any of these more expensive markets—you’re gonna look at cap rates of like 5 and 6, maybe if you’re lucky 7%. So, you can see that it simply does not work. the cash flow on this property, projected at $2800 per year. Cash on cash return on investment, your yield here, 13% annually. Overall, with all the multidimensional characteristics of an income property, 44% annually. Fantastic investments. We’re looking forward to touring them with you personally, at the end of the month.
I just did a fantastic interview that will be a 10th episode shortly, and that is with a former Wall Street guy, and former Navy SEAL. This guy was great; his name is Mark Divine, he’s written three books, I talked to him about that. He did just a fantastic 45 minute interview with me, and so, you’ll have that coming up on the show. He talked about—first we got onto the subject of, of course, Wall Street, the modern version of organized crime, as I call it. But then we talked about what we calls being an elite operator in your life. I just love the way he puts that. You know, the Navy SEALS is obviously an elite military force, and he talks about how to be effective in life, in business, and it certainly applies to real estate investing. And he talks a lot about all the stuff that’s core to the Navy SEALS, about discipline, about mind-body integration, about the importance of quiet time, about the importance of that mind-body connection. It reminded me of a really great quote that I posted on my personal Facebook page today.
I just gotta mention something about social media and Facebook in general. I get a lot of requests for friends on Facebook. And certainly appreciate that. And I’m glad to be friends with all of our listeners and so forth, or as many as I can. I guess you’re limited at 5,000. If I don’t know who you are, and you don’t write me a note, I’m not gonna accept your request, okay? So, if you’re a listener to the show, you know, write me a little note, and you know, if you want to connect, I’m happy to connect with you.
But this quote is a good one, I think. And I also put it on my JasonHartman.com business person page as well. I think I did that. And the quote is: self discipline is a form of freedom. Self discipline is a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy, freedom from the expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness and fear, and doubt. And that is from H.A. Dorfman, an American mental skills coach. And I really like that quote, because Jim Rohn, one of my very early mentors from age 17 or 18, when I got exposed to a lot of this type of great, great thinking—he said something great, and this quote reminds me of his quote. And he said, the pain of discipline weighs ounces. The pain of regret weighs tons.
And you know, that’s so true when it comes to any aspect of life, of course. But it also is so true with investing, because as investors, we have to be disciplined. We have to be disciplined in managing our emotions when these little bumps in the road come up. And I say little, because most of them really are little. There are some big ones, I understand that. But when we look back on them, they’re usually pretty small in the overall scheme of things. Many of you have commented on—I’ve had my mom on the show a few times, and she was on recently, and she has an eviction going on in one of her properties. It’s just interesting, how I see people that will invest with us, or invest with other people, and come to me and talk to me, and express their concerns and their emotions about what is going on. And some of them just give up so easily, it amazes me. Everything in life we encounter seems really difficult at the time. Surely anybody who’s over 22, 23 years old has seen this is true.
And one of the things—I remember, in my 20s, I met a friend of mine who was maybe, I don’t know, maybe this guy was about 10 years older than me. And I met him in Israel, and I was on a tour of Israel with my church. By the way, it was very interesting, to be able to see all these places that are written about in scripture and so forth. Fascinating tour. And I remember, as I was getting to know this guy, he was a very successful attorney. I remember playing golf with him one day. And there were a few other friends with us. And I remember just thinking how he really was good at a lot of things. I know that at least for myself, when I was younger, it seemed really hard to do a lot of things. And now, one of the great things about having a few years pass, and getting older, is the confidence you develop, the self discipline that hopefully we develop, okay?
Hey listen, there are a lot of children walking around in adult bodies. I’m sure we all know that. When we get older, you know, we just get up and do it! And just get things done! There’s a lot of power and freedom in that! You know, when we’re younger, we sort of agonize about things a lot, I think, and we whine about things too, and you know, when we’re older we do some of that too. But the older we get, I think the more capable we become at just, you know, as the old saying goes, just deal with it! And when we look back on these trials and tribulations, if we had the discipline to just break through them and get through them and overcome them, and sometimes overcome our own mind, and our own mental state, and our own emotions, and manage those things rather than being the victim of them—we look back, and we think, God, that was easy! Bring on another challenge! I can do that, I can do that, I can overcome that—and it’s just an amazing freedom!
So, that quote again—self discipline’s a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy, freedom from the expectations and demands of others, and why is it freedom from that? Well, this is my commentary, of course, it’s freedom from that because if we just get up and do things, and overcome things, we’re not hearing a lot about demands and expectations of others. Clean out the garage, and then your significant other will stop complaining about the garage being dirty, right? We don’t hear that, because we’ve already taken care of it. Freedom from weakness and fear, and doubt. Great quote for the day there. I guess that’s all I’ve got, before we get to Congressman Todd Akin! Let’s go to that interview now, and by the way, upcoming episodes, we’ve got some awesome stuff coming up. We’ve got Jeff Reeves coming up, Steve Lord—Steve Lord, if you’re interested, you know, I haven’t been talking about it much lately, but these cryptocurrencies, cyber currencies, alternative currencies—Steve Lord, really we went deep on that subject, and it was really, really quite interesting. And we’ve just got a whole bunch of awesome shows coming up. So, we will get to those. But right now, let’s get to former Congressman Todd Akin.
Introducing Congressman Todd Akin to the show
JASON HARTMAN: It’s my pleasure to welcome Congressman Todd Akin to the show! He’s a former Missouri Congressman, and author of the new book entitled Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom. Congressman Akin, welcome. How are you?
CONGRESSMAN TODD AKIN: Jason, it’s a treat to be able to join you and your audience.
JASON HARTMAN: We’re glad to have you here. First of all, gosh, this book covers so much. There are so many chapters, and you talk about the races, the dangerous campaign trail, how the whole system is structured, and how the media is not only not doing you any favors, but they’re really taking an activist role, aren’t they? I don’t know where to start, there’s so much to cover with you.
TODD AKIN: Well Jason, that’s true, there are a lot of different themes that we pick up. Firing Back is first of all a story. Everybody likes a good story, and this one was pretty exciting, and was partly the result of basically an international media hatchet job. I went from a respectable Congressman to some sort of a pariah in about one week. So, that in and of itself is a story. But that’s where we kind of start out. But then I also explore the technique that’s being used, particularly by the liberal media and the liberal democrats, and talk about media assassinations, and how that works. And how that’s basically part of the strategy of Saul Alinksy, who is one of the teachers of President Obama. Then, to try to put the whole thing into perspective, Jason, what I do is to say, okay, so I made a couple of awkward comments. Nothing wrong, but it was poor choice of words. But they were, nonetheless, only words. And then you move two weeks forward in time: it’s the democrat national convention, their keynote speaker, Bill Clinton. If you set Juanita Broaddrick’s own testimony that she was raped by Bill Clinton aside, don’t even count that, still Bill Clinton has a long history of sexual abuse and sexually inappropriate behavior. And he is being applauded. And the difference is, I spoke, and he has a history of sexual abuse. Now, what’s the balance in that situation? Who even pointed that out in the national liberal media? Nobody. And then if you want—
JASON HARTMAN: Isn’t it interesting that you get more skewered in today’s world for something you say that something you actually do? I just find that to be completely ironic.
TODD AKIN: Well, see, that’s basically elevated political correctness to something that’s even more serious than sexual assault.
Congressman Todd Akin addresses his offensive comments
JASON HARTMAN: Unbelievable. That’s crazy. So, go ahead. Do you want to tell the audience what you said, and then what you meant by it?
TODD AKIN: Sure, I’d be happy to do that. Let’s go to the context, because that’s always helpful. I had made the mistake of going on a talk show with a guy that I knew was a hard bitten liberal, but I had known him 12 years and longer, so I went in assuming he was gonna do what he did, which was a gotcha game—tried to give me a lot of hard questions. And so, pretty soon, he came round to the subject of abortion, because he knew I was pro life. And so he said, well, do you think there should be any exceptions for abortion? And I said, well in the case of a tubal pregnancy, the child has no chance to live, but the child could kill the mother, so I think it’s appropriate in that case to protect the life of the mother. And then he said, well, how about the case of rape? So, the real question was, a child that is conceived in rape, do they have the same right to life as a child conceived in love? And of course, my case was, that they do. If you’re consistently pro life. And so, we never got there, because I did a parenthesis, and that was a big mistake, and I said, if it’s a legitimate rape. Now, that’s the one that the president made fun of. Obviously no rape is legitimate. So, what was the implied meaning? If it’s a legitimate case of rape. The police in our state use that term sometimes. The point is, a lady calls up and says, I’ve been raped. The police investigate it and say, yep, we think she really was.
JASON HARTMAN: But sometimes it’s not really true.
TODD AKIN: And that’s right, and that’s why I wanted to make the point. If a rape occurs—a forcible rape occurs—and I didn’t use the word forcible, but I might have gotten in trouble for that too—then that creates a lot of stress, and stress tends to reduce the probability of pregnancy. I quickly acknowledged that there are times when somebody’s raped and they do get pregnant, even though there was a lot of stress involved. And we had people that were the children of rape that worked on my campaign, because I was standing up for their right to life. So we had them actually working on the campaign, and the mainstream media’s saying, Akin says a woman can’t get pregnant if she’s raped, and I didn’t say that at all. The comment, both legitimate rape, and then I followed it with a woman’s body has ways to shut the whole thing down, which I should have said was simply stress affects the probability of pregnancy. So, those poorly chosen words resulted in not just a national story, but an international news event. And my point is, as poorly chosen as the words were, what I was saying to the best of my knowledge wasn’t wrong, although there seems to have been some argument between doctors whether stress is a part of pregnancy or not.
JASON HARTMAN: Stress can definitely affect a pregnancy, and possibly terminate it, depending on how bad the stress is, right? I mean, that’s not completely unheard of, is it?
TODD AKIN: Well, Jason, I think the example—because , I always like to bring things down to common sense level. Have you ever heard of a couple, they got married and wanted to have a child, and they couldn’t have a child, so they adopt somebody, and then the wife gets pregnant? I think many people have heard of that.
JASON HARTMAN: Certainly have heard of that.
TODD AKIN: And people say that well, the woman was stressed out and upset, wanting to have a child so much, and then, when that pressure was gone, she just relaxed and had a child. So, I made my point, and that was the fact that somebody—I poorly chose some words, but is that the same thing as a guy that’s got a history of sexual abuse? And why was there such a disparity? And of course, as you know, there are many, many other examples where the liberal media—it’s not just a dual standard, it’s an intentional misleading of the public in order for them to advance a very destructive agenda. And you could take a look at Benghazi, the weaponizing of the IRS, you could take a look at the votes to kick God out of the democratic convention, which never got any attention, but was a pretty big deal to a lot of people of faith, and those are just scratching the surface of the things in this last—you can keep your doctor, you can keep your healthcare promises on ObamaCare—it’s one thing after the next.
Congressman Todd Akin talks about the liberal media
JASON HARTMAN: Talk to us about the media a little bit, if you would, and then I want to get into the structural system of the party bosses, and how this all works, and maybe what can be done to reform it, if anything. I don’t know if anything can be done.
TODD AKIN: There’s things we can do. Well, the media—I think I’ve made my point. You frequently hear conservatives say there’s a dual standard. And my argument is, it’s not a dual standard. There is an agenda that people who are doing these assassinations are following the Saul Alinsky approach, and they’re using the media to highlight something that they want to ridicule. And the things that they don’t want to talk about, like Obama saying, I’ve been campaigning all over, I’ve been to 57 states now. 57 states? No comment from the media, you know? Now, if anybody republican had said that—my goodness, even a third grader is supposed to know.
JASON HARTMAN: It would have been a Dan Quayle nuclear moment!
TODD AKIN: Oh, yeah. Was that the potato?
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, yeah. Anything he said. That guy could never win; I felt bad for him.
TODD AKIN: Yeah, no kidding. That’s because people are targeted. And that’s the nature of particularly, as you get further up in the political system, I didn’t have trouble with the particulars of state rep, or even US Congressmen as much, but the US Senate—that’s a real hardball, and you’re not gonna get fair treatment there from the media.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, very interesting. How does it work with these campaign bosses?
TODD AKIN: Let me just talk about how it’s supposed to work, and how I think a couple of people are really fudging the whole thing up.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, and I meant party bosses, I’m sorry.
TODD AKIN: Yeah, the party bosses, and we’ll talk about some names too. Here’s what’s normally supposed to happen, the political process. You have a primary election. I’m talking about the republican party now. You have a primary election, and all kinds of people in a given state who have made the—many of them are very hard working, good people; they made infinite phone calls, put up yard signs, have all kinds of meetings, get people out to hear speakers—these people have been involved for a long time, and they all work together. They take a look at who the primary candidates are, and I describe what this was like when I was running in the primary for the Senate. And after, in our case, we’d been running a year and a half, we spent $2 million, we were outspent 4:1 by my opponent, one of my opponents. After endless debates and everything else in forums, people have a chance to vote, and it’s called, an election. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. And the idea is that overall, for a state, if you’re doing statewide, that that probably the primary voters, the republican party, are the best qualified to choose the one candidate that they want to go forward. And I think that that’s largely true.
Now, what’s happened lately is with Karl Rove, and some of the senate leadership—they have a different model. They think that primary elections from the republican party, particularly in conservative states, are liable to elect a conservative candidate for senate. Perish the thought. And everybody knows that conservatives can’t get elected to the senate. Just look at Todd Akin! Well, for me, I’d been in office 24 years. I never lost an election until the senate one. And they’re trying to use me as an example, but then they came back and tried to destroy my campaign, and the democrats used the quotes from the republicans in the final ad against me. So, it’s not really exactly a very good comparison. So, here’s what’s happening. They’re basically selecting, as opposed to electing.
Now, this is just plain stupid. We need to call it what it is, and for two reasons. One, it’s stupid because when you have republican money, to spend republican money against republicans is a waste of money. You’re fighting yourself. You want to save the money to run ads against the democrats. So that’s the first thing. It’s just a poor use of money. The second thing is that it is also terribly destructive to the grassroots of the republican party. Because all those people that spent all those years giving contributions, and working so hard for the party—you’re telling them, your opinion doesn’t make any difference. The big boys in Washinton are gonna choose your candidate for you. This is a selection, not an election. Well, that of course antagonizes the republican base, and that’s been going on, particularly I guess Mississippi comes to mind.
JASON HARTMAN: What can be done to solve the problem, to fix the system? I mean, it just seems like good people don’t want to get into politics. They don’t want to wrestle with the media, they don’t wanna be defamed. You know, it’s just a huge cost! And the system is so big and cumbersome, and you know, the truth is maligned like crazy. I mean—
TODD AKIN: I think you’re right, Jason, and if you measure by all kinds of different measurements, you’d say, America’s on the wrong track. I think there was a poll that came out this last week that said 70 some percent of Americans say we’re on the wrong track. They can sense that all is not right in America. The trouble with the answer to your question, Jason, is that the political system is only a piece of what’s broken. And the people who founded America saw America as essentially four governments. We use the word government, we think of a capitol dome somewhere. But to them, the first thing they thought of when they thought of government was self government. The virtuous character of the individual citizen. Then they thought of the government of a family. A husband and wife living together with a structure of authority with the children under that authority. And then they thought of your place of worship. They would have said church. And that’s the type of government. And then civil government.
Now, given that individuals in the country are all totally selfish and don’t follow any kind of rules, if families are all broken and destroyed, and the places of faith are afraid to say anything, then guess what? The civil government’s gonna be in a mess. So, my case in the conclusion of my book, I’m trying to answer the question. Say, you’re just—in Firing Back, I talk about, you’re just a regular person. You don’t even care that much about politics, but you know something’s wrong, and you want to do something about it. And I make the case that we’re living in a time when people have to be heroes. They have to stand up against what’s wrong, and what’s bad, and call it out, and not worry about some personality contest. Just simply call bad bad, and stand up in the way you live your life, advance good ideas, and things that are true and beautiful. Things that allow people to follow the dream that they have in their hearts. It’s time for Americans to stand up, and that’s not just politically. That’s in all areas of our lives that I try to make that case in the conclusion, a time for heroes, in the book Firing Back.
A Congressman’s thoughts on writing to your Congressman
JASON HARTMAN: When you say stand up, though, can you be more specific? A lot of people hear that, and they think, well, what am I supposed to do? Go post more stuff on social media? Write to my congressman? Tell us about writing to your congressman, by the way. You know? I would love—
TODD AKIN: That’s a longstanding tradition.
JASON HARTMAN: I would love to hear this stuff from a six-term congressman, you know? Does that really matter? Do you guys—how can you possibly read the letters? How much mail do you get?
TODD AKIN: We get literally, many, many, thousands of letters in a week. So, no, you don’t read all of them. And certain ones seem to be more important, and your staff sort those out. I always made the case that instead of writing your congressman, why don’t you invest so that the congressman you elect, you don’t need to write him, because he’s gonna do the right thing anyway? Who’s writing letters, Jason? Here’s the thing. I think there is almost no limit to what an average American citizen can do to try to turn things around. And I’ve given some suggestions. Let me just sort of tell a little bit of a story from the chapter on September 11th, when I was a new congressman. There are two people I like. In the book, one of them is Todd Beamer, and also another group of people that carried the person in the wheelchair to safety—those are people who did what? What was Todd Beamer?
JASON HARTMAN: His famous line was, let’s roll.
TODD AKIN: Yeah. Let’s roll. So, before September 11th comes along, what sort of guy is he? Well, he’s got sort of a community leader in certain ways, he’s shown leadership skills. He does things for other people. He’s basically a standup red blooded American guy, and nobody’s ever heard of him before. When it comes game time, and he has to decide, are you gonna sit and coddle and cower? Or, are you going to live for other people, and try and do the right thing? And that day, Todd Beamer became a hero, that everybody knows who he is. Now, the same day, there were people who practiced something differently. They practiced trying to get something for nothing. And they were the ones doing the looting at the bottom of the trade center. And those are the choices. The way we live our lives. Do we think about other people first? Do we have the individual character to tell the truth, to be honest, not to steal, not to lie, not to run people down when we know they didn’t do anything wrong. A whole host of different things. That’s the place where you can make a difference. And I would suggest, let’s just say you have a mom. She has a little kid, and she takes time to teach him the beautiful history of the beginning of our country. And the little kid grows up, and he loves the red white and blue, and he runs for congress, and is elected year after year. That’s my own story. When I was in third grade my mom took me to the old north bridge in Concord, MA and told me about the minute men fighting the biggest military power in the world, and the War of Independence. That wasn’t a political thing she did, but it made a difference.
On money in elections
JASON HARTMAN: What about the money in elections? Tell us your thoughts there.
TODD AKIN: Because one of your main tools is media, that is radio and television, they become very expensive. And depending on what district you’re running in, or what cities are there, they become very expensive. In order to really run, and run a credible campaign, you have to have enough money to at least get to a position where you can start the race. There’s different ways to do that. Sometimes, somebody’s got millions and millions of dollars, like my primary opponent, and he never was involved in politics at all, didn’t know anything about it, really, but he just decided he wanted to be a US Senator, and he had a good many, I don’t know what he spent, probably close to $10 million to back it up. Or not quite that much, maybe. But pretty fair amount.
JASON HARTMAN: I just would like to give the listeners some sort of metric. And I understand that you may or may not know the answer to this question, but what is the least expensive congressional campaign, and the most expensive? Like, what is the range here we’re talking about?
TODD AKIN: In congressional campaigns?
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah.
TODD AKIN: Well, and I’m just shooting from the hill….
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, no problem.
TODD AKIN: Just rough numbers, okay? I would think you might find some people that manage to get elected in places where there’s not big cities as much, they may have gotten by for a million, or a couple million dollars.
JASON HARTMAN: Mhmm.
TODD AKIN: And then, I’m thinking, the really expensive ones—oh my, I bet you could do, you know, I bet you people are going through 50-100. Maybe—no, not quite that much.
JASON HARTMAN: I know some of these senate campaigns—they’re just—
TODD AKIN: Actually, you could get by in some districts for probably $500,000, I think, for congress.
JASON HARTMAN: Okay.
TODD AKIN: And then, I’d think you’re talking about a number of million, and you get to places like New York City and stuff, and you can’t even afford television there, because your congressional district is such a small part of the city, you can’t afford to buy it. So, you’re talking a number of millions in the congressional race. Versus maybe $500,000, possibly, depending on the person, depending on the state, where the cities are, just a lot of factors.
JASON HARTMAN: The law changed years ago maybe, where corporations could do unlimited donations, foreign corporations could make donations, all this kind of stuff. I don’t know the exact details, I don’t remember…
TODD AKIN: That may be true, Jason, at the state level. But at the federal level, there are limitations on how much people can contribute.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, okay.
TODD AKIN: Individuals and corporations.
JASON HARTMAN: Mhmm. All right.
TODD AKIN: So, there are limits on those, which then tend to make fundraising, of course, harder, because if you knew one guy with lots of money, and there’s no limits, one guy could fund the whole campaign. But the way it is now, I’ve gotta have, you know, hundreds of people that are able to do, say, $5000 a couple. And so, that—you know, and so, fundraising becomes, in terms of elections, it’s the main—probably the main occupation of the candidate. Fundraising, and meeting people here and there.
JASON HARTMAN: It just seems like—of course, we’re forcing the politicians to take their eye off the ball, number one. But to me it just feels like the whole system’s been too perverted and sold out. And listen, I’m a capitalist, you know? I have no objection of money. But when it comes to politics, I don’t know. You know? I just—
TODD AKIN: Jason, let me suggest something. I think—I forget which president it was that said that we have a horrible political system, but it’s the best one in the world. And, so, there’s some truth in that. It’s not an easy business for people to try to choose the people who are going to govern them. But our particular system is very wise, and it’s set up very well. The problem with it is that the political system can’t compensate for people who are corrupt. You can’t fix something that’s stupid or broken, okay? And if the people become corrupt to a certain point, there’s not a thing any political system can do to protect them. People sometimes think, oh, well, they’re electing their leader, so therefore, everything should be fine. No! They elected Hitler! It wasn’t fine at all!
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, no question. And I agree with you about that. You’re always going to have bad, immoral people in every endeavor. It’s just part of life. We need to accept that. However, I will say this though.
TODD AKIN: You need to screen them out.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, but you know, Todd—of course you need to do that. Absolutely. And you would think the electorate could do that. I think there’s a famous quote that goes something like, never overestimate the intelligence of the electorate, or something. Right?
TODD AKIN: Don’t quote me on that. I’ve gotten in enough trouble lately.
JASON HARTMAN: Not your quote.
TODD AKIN: No, no, I know. Jason, here’s a point though, and this is something I toss out a lot of things like this in Firing Back. And this would be for people like Tea Party people. There is the perception out there that Washington, D.C. is radioactive. And you send a good man down there, and after a short amount of time, they get so radioactive they’re no good anymore. Okay? That’s not true. What makes people corrupt is their nature inside of them. If you have somebody who’s not a straight shooter, who’s willing to lie, make little deals on the side—
JASON HARTMAN: Of yeah, of course.
TODD AKIN: All you’re gonna do is amplify it. But if you have people who are honest, and have integrity, and are hard workers, then those people, year after year, are good. So, my case is the practical application of it is, if I were looking for candidates, one thing I would look for was a candidate that had a long history of consistent voting record and integrity. Because under the pressure of Washington, D.C., if you maintain your integrity and you’re still a conservative, then that tells you, when you elect that person to something else, you know what they’re gonna do. Another guy can come along and say ah, I’m really conservative, and I promise this and that. But when the pressure’s on, what are they gonna do? Even they don’t know. That’s why we say somebody with a proven record is a better deal than somebody you have no concept of.
JASON HARTMAN: Okay, so there you’re only hiring from prior political office, though.
TODD AKIN: I’m not saying it would limit only to that. Because somebody’s gotta start somewhere. But I’m just saying, there are certain people that were my contemporaries that were really solid conservatives, very smart, very capable, very tuned into America, who she is—those people, if you look at their voting records, these guys are rated to some of the top—you know, they’re in the top 20 or 30 conservative congressmen in the country. If they can maintain that record after year after year, you say, well, if you want to promote them, you know one thing, they’re gonna be conservatives when you promote them.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah. So, Todd, let me propose one idea to you and our listeners, before we go, because I’ve got an idea on this. Look, and this is why I can’t go with the liberals. Ever. Because they just want the government to be bigger. And I don’t know. Maybe—call me a pessimist if you want, but I just think you’re always gonna have bad people, you’re always gonna have corruption. Human nature is fallen, and it’s just gonna be there. The one thing we can do that will surely make it smaller, and of less impact, is to make the entire size of the government smaller. And if the government gets smaller, the corruption within it will be smaller too. And the payoffs and the projects and, you know, the pork barrel legislation—and, you know, not all of this stuff is even illegal, it’s just part of the practice. And so, I say, just make the government smaller. That was the original intent of our brilliant founders, is to have a smaller government.
TODD AKIN: Limited government. Right.
JASON HARTMAN: Limited government. And that’s the way it should be, you know?
TODD AKIN: Well, Jason, I think—I’ve pretty much lived by that principle, a way to stop socialism is to starve it to death.
JASON HARTMAN: Right. Good point.
TODD AKIN: But of course, as a conservative, I believe there’s some proper functions of civil government. One of those is maintaining a strong national defense, and there’s some things I think we should be funding, and then a whole lot of stuff that isn’t even the jurisdiction of the federal government.
JASON HARTMAN: Not even close.
TODD AKIN: That’s why, the very first vote I ran into—okay, I’m a first time congressman, first vote republican president, wonderful president, and the first bill is, no child left behind, a bill that’s gonna give more money to the federal department of education. I don’t think we need a federal department of education. We’ve got state departments of education. Leave the federal government out of the deal! So, I’m the only guy in the state who voted no on it. But now, years have gone by, I’m still proud of that vote. It was a good vote.
What’s next for Todd Akin
JASON HARTMAN: Todd, tell us what’s next for you.
TODD AKIN: Well, that’s a good question, and I wish I knew the answer. The thing that’s driven me for 24 years in politics, and the whole reason for writing the book, is to highlight the difference between good ideas and bad ideas. I never went to DC hating liberals. Or thinking badly of other people, or trying to carry a grudge, or get even. That wasn’t my temperament. I just believed that there are ideas that are good, and there are ideas that are terrible. And so, I know that I will be somehow involved in that. You know, ObamaCare is a horrible idea. It’s government takeover of healthcare. It never works well. It’ll cost money, so that’s sort of what I know I’m gonna be doing. But I don’t know what venue. In this case, I changed from being an elected officeholder, to writing a book. And I do recommend Firing Back is pretty short, it’s a fast moving story, but you’ll pick up an awful lot of background on what’s happening politically.
JASON HARTMAN: Tell people where they can get the book, and any other resources you might want to give out.
TODD AKIN: Thanks, Jason. You could get the book Firing Back from Amazon, or you could also go to Akin.org.
JASON HARTMAN: Fantastic. Congressman Todd Akin, thank you so much for joining us today!
TODD AKIN: Thanks, Jason. It’s really been a treat, and I appreciate your imaginative nature, and the diversity of your programming.
JASON HARTMAN: Thank you so much.
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Episode: CW 409: Party Politics & Campaign Finance Reform with Todd Akin Former Missouri Congressmen and Author of ‘Firing Back’
Guest: Todd Akin
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