Stanford Business Professor Keith Hennessey, a veteran of DC policy battles, recently coined a term to describe the media’s reaction to the President’s decision as “QTIIPs.” QTIIPS stands for Quantitatively Trivial Impact + Intense Political Symbolism. In his June 1 blog, Professor Hennessey goes on to explain QTIIPS. QTIIPS can be best described as the overreaction to a policy decision. Other synonymous descriptions of QTIIPS could be overkill or hysteria.
Let’s revisit the Paris Accord as an example. The Paris Accord states that it is a multinational attempt at “keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” Critics such as Professor Hennessey and Oren Cass, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute with a focus on energy and the environment have criticized the Accord because it does not address the climate change problems by requiring tangible outcomes. The Accord’s supporters have dismissed these allegations by accusing the Accord’s critics as “deniers of climate change.” When the President announced his decision to leave the Accord, the Accord’s supporters reacted with hysteria.
The QTIIPS phenomenon is not limited to the Paris Accord. Consider, your e-mail inbox being filled with request for political donations. Every issue, whether it is Medicaid reform, tax cuts, the federal budget, or the numerous other policy issues is described as a life and death matter. The moment someone makes a proposal to address these issues; the immediate reaction for those opposing the proposal is to attack the position as being the beginning of the end of civilization. The problem with QTIIPS is that it blurs the real issues from the superficial ones.
The root cause of this problem is that you have political fundraisers and consultants who have a vested interest in creating a polarizing atmosphere. Everything is viewed through the lens of life and death. The challenge is to have someone with an understanding of policy and the individuals behind those policy decisions guide you through this political environment. This requires an experienced public policy firm guiding you through the political process. An experienced government affairs office will not sell your position based on hysteria, but in preparation. Preparation means understanding the impact of the proposed legislation or regulation, assessing the political landscape, developing a plan to advocate your position and executing that plan.