And now, they're coming for your Social Security money - they want your fucking retirement money - they want it back - so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later. Because they own this fucking place. It's a Big Club: and you're not in it.
I’ve said before that the “kitchen table” meme needs to die. But before it shuffles off this mortal coil, President Obama should put it to use one more time:
“My fellow Americans, we in the United States are like so many of you, sitting at your kitchen table and wondering where to come up with money to cover an unexpected expense while still keeping the lights on and food on the table. As you may have heard, the National Bureau of Economic Research recently reported that most Americans couldn’t produce $2000 on short notice without selling possessions or finding a lender to borrow it from. The government faces these questions all the time; like right now, with some members of Congress moving to prevent us from providing emergency funds to help the victims of the terrible tornado in Joplin, Missouri.
“In some ways, the problems of deficits and the debt that the federal government accumulates are no different from you, at your kitchen table, trying to come up with that desperately needed $2000 on short notice. As you all know, the United States has seen historic shortfalls over the last several years as government income has dropped dramatically as a direct result of the downturn in the global economy. At the same time, of course, we’ve had to increase various outlays and spending just to maintain existing programs or fund new recovery efforts and, of course, continue fighting two wars.
“Now, because of all this, we in the government find ourselves sitting around our kitchen table talking about the budget and our debts. The Democrats in Congress and I have suggested various cuts and other ways to tighten our belts, just like all of you have had to do through this time of economic hardship and struggle; but we also believe that since the government can currently borrow at historically low rates, we should take advantage of that capability while it’s here. More to the point: we think it would be foolish not to. It’s the difference between spending on large, unnecessary purchases and recognizing a genuine opportunity that also carries with it a long-term but sustainable debt. Much like when you bought your first home, or a car, or started a small business and the bank ensured that you could actually meet the payments at the interest rates offered; in the same way, the world market believes that the US government will remain solvent and thus continues to offer money at very low interest. This will not always be so, but we Democrats believe we should take advantage of it while we can and that we should use that extra buying power to empower the American economy on its road to recovery.
“The Republicans, on the other hand, are suggesting that we sell the furniture at whatever price the first person offers us, put the children to work at dangerous jobs, eat tainted food and dirty water to save a few cents, and finally default on our existing financial obligations such that we can pay down that mortgage on the house as quickly as possible, even if that action means incurring penalties, and they want to do all of this despite the fact that we have access to stable, reasonable long term interest rates and also have the wherewithal to make payments long into the foreseeable future. It’s like they want us to finance a car on a high interest credit card instead of through a traditional bank loan just because they want to give the people at the credit card company some more money. It doesn’t make any financial sense for the country and only functions to create wealth for the handfull of people at the very top of the financial system.
“I think I know which road you as Americans want us to take. So why not sit down at that kitchen table of yours and write or call your Congressperson and let them know?
“Thank you for listening. Good night, and good luck.”
The recently House-passed continuing resolution only makes a government shutdown more likely by both caving to perceived GOP demands to “cut” while also exhausting the supply of low hanging fruit that Obama has already come out in favor of cutting.
The GOP has the media high-ground, as always, because serious people know that cuts must be necessary, and since the GOP is at dollar value X, and the Democrats are, for all intents and purposes, at dollar value $0 (spending freeze as opposed to new cuts), the serious person answer must be $X/2. That’s the “grand bargain” that Democrats wisely point out will still submarine the economy and the GOP flatly refuses to even discuss. See: shutdown and default in 2011.
Serious People furthermore agitate for deep cuts to Social Security, despite its dedicated funding source and minimal deficit impact in the near future, because, well, because that’s what serious people do. Acceding to the demands for cuts to Social Secuirty is 2012 suicide for the Democrats. It just is.
With all that in mind, what the Democrats need is a concentrated, coordinated effort that steals this idiotic media high ground surrounding the (perceived) absolute necessity of “cuts and a lot of them.” Karl Rove taught us nothing if not the fact that making your enemies’ strengths into their weaknesses is a potent political tool. Think Swiftboating. That The Democrat assiduously avoids the use of this tool is why they fail.
Therefore: the GOP is talking at least $100B in cuts, and immediately. Right or wrong, that’s going to have to be your number too. However, and critically, the GOP wants those cuts to come entirely from the non-military discretionary budget, somewhere around 14% of the whole government budget. This, then, is where and how you attack them. And you’re going to do it specifically and with dollar amounts.
You go down the list of GOP hobby horses: faith-based initiatives, the military, oil subsidies, agribusiness subsidies, general corporate welfare, abstinence-based education, all of it; but you don’t stop with spending, you also target revenue: capital gains taxes, estate taxes, social security taxes (as in: uncapped), and ultimately the tax code itself, which could use a few new brackets up top.
Secretary Gates can likely provide you with a long list of outdated or otherwise no-longer-needed military programs. Lots of them will seem ridiculous or hopelessly out of touch. Mock them and mock the GOP for continuing to support them.
Same goes for oil subsidies. These are the richest companies on Earth and the GOP wants to give them corporate welfare while asking for “shared sacrifice” from the poorest of the poor?
When you’ve run out of spending to cut from GOP programs, you go to work on revenue. That’s right, I said it. You need to too. First: revenue is revenue. Capital gains, management fees, bonuses, and everything else falls under regular pay. Next, you set about raising effective rates on corporations and the rich. The corporate side can be most effectively done by eliminating shelters and loopholes. Any country in which ExxonMobil pays $0 in taxes needs, needs corporate tax reform. Period. Still haven’t hit the number? New tax brackets. Still haven’t hit the number? Uncap Social Security. And so on.
You then pack the whole thing together and unveil it as the “alternative” plan and hoist the GOP upon it each and every day, all day. Because they are guaranteed to hate it. But will have to explain why they prefer to make these cuts on the backs of the poorest instead of the richest and furthermore call it “shared sacrifice.”
You’ve got less than two weeks to put this together. Recent history with the tax cut extension “fight” suggests you haven’t even considered something along these lines yet. But it’s how to win. That’s why it looks so strange to you. Yes, it’s simple minded. But simple minded is what works. You are the last few hundred people in America to come to this realization.
I’m not saying this bill would be what was passed, or that it would even reach the floor in a serious way…but it would drive the conversation in a way that benefits you, The Democrat, and not so coincidentally us the American people.
Currently you’re battling over the 14% that contains the most painful cuts possible. You shouldn’t be. You furthermore don’t even need to be. Change the conversation to terms that have the potential to benefit you. Right now revenue doesn’t even come up. It needs to. It needs to be the first question off the lips of the serious people. Until it is, you will fail.