Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Can't win the game on defense alone

The media narrative lately has been about how the Democrats are losing the debate over spending cuts. Of course they are, because as always, they're playing defense and going for GOP lite instead of taking the offense and actually fighting back. Steve Benen summarizes the Democrat's problem:
In 1995, when the Gingrich-led Republicans confronted the Clinton White House, the president had a mantra he'd repeat endlessly -- it was called M2E2. Clinton would say he's prepared to negotiate with Republicans, but wasn't prepared to go along with deep cuts to "Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment," four popular measures voters didn't want to see slashed.

In 2011, Dems never quite got around to picking their own M2E2. Criticisms of the GOP plan have been all over the map, made more complicated by the fact that Democrats themselves have been far too quick to buy into the dubious notion that Americans actually want a focus on the deficit instead of the economy.
And he offers up the obvious solution:
If I'm a Democratic strategist, I would have recommended a couple of things. First, pick a handful of the most jarring cuts in the GOP plan, and repeat them ad nauseum. Ideally, they'd be cuts most Americans would find offensive -- "Republicans want to slash funding for education, medical research, job training, and homeland security. We think that's irresponsible." Say this over and over again, and sooner or later, folks will start to know that the GOP wants to cut education, medical research, job training, and homeland security.

Second, turn the GOP line around and start calling the cuts what they are: job killing. There are multiple independent analyses -- from Macroeconomic Advisers, Ben Bernanke, Moody's Analytics, Economic Policy Institute, and others -- all saying that the Republican plan would cost the economy hundreds of thousands of jobs. John Boehner gift-wrapped this by saying, "So be it" when asked about the GOP plan to deliberately make unemployment worse.
It couldn't be more obvious. Change the narrative. Austerity cuts kill jobs. Austerity cuts kill economic recovery and will cause another recession. And for the love of all that is holy, why aren't the Dems proposing a job creation bill and daring the GOPers to vote against it?

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