Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Hidden Problem with The Budget Deal

I used to produce TV advertising for a car dealer and as I write this I'm reminded of the saying, "It isn't the deal you got - it's the deal you think you got." In other words, even if you paid way too much, if you think you got a good deal, that's all that matters. I work with a guy who once visited a dealer and told him, "I only have $18,000 to spend, so I want your best deal." Guess how much his van cost.

But, I'm not going to pass judgment here on the deal Speaker Boehner thinks he got. Because we are still spending more than we collect, I do question the level of accomplishment. What really bothers me is quite different than the substance of the deal.

What really bothers me is the GOP's inability to communicate the many persuasive arguments they had in their pockets - that I believe would have allowed them to achieve much more than they did - by getting the preponderance of public opinion on their side. They have to learn how to fight and argue in ways that capture the public's imagination.

For example, their sole argument was framed around the two words, "cutting spending." That same rhetoric was employed the last time the two parties squared off over keeping the government open. By changing the meme, the GOP could have made it much more difficult for the Democrats to say, "There you go again." For example, if the GOP had said they are "cutting the cost of government," it would have more squarely represented what was actually happening, and it would have reinforced the reasonableness of the Tea Party's demands to cut the size and cost of government. We know the Democrats cannot successfully argue against cutting the cost of government. Everybody wants that.

Further, cutting the cost of government does not imply cutting services. For example, when you shop, if you ask for a discount it doesn't mean you get less of an item - it simply means you pay less for an item.

The GOP never brought the argument out of the stratosphere and down to the level where most people could undertand it. For example, why did they never take the two-percent Boehner was asking for and related it to a single dollar? Instead they were always relating it to several trillion dollars. How reasonable and easy it is to understand when you hear, "Speaker Boehner wants to cut the budget by 2 cents on the dollar." Immediately opposition seems unreasonable. Heck, he could have started at a nickel using that kind of rhetoric.

When the Democrats complained about cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and NPR, the GOP should have responded, "But they're not government agencies." You Democrats who are always talking about the sin of giving tax breaks to special interests have to be willing to do what you ask of others. Show us by your example. Let's see you have the guts to cut spending for your own special interests.

And when Harry Reid said the GOP didn't care about women, why didn't the GOP remind Mr. Reid that his Nevada is where politicians look the other way when women prostitute themselves. Is that how Mr. Reid shows his respect for women? Let's see a show of hands of all the Democrats who believe that prostitution in Nevada demonstrates a proper respect for women - if you do, you should be voting for Planned Parenthood - it'll help keep Harry Reid's prostitutes in business.

Why didn't Speaker Boehner simply say, "Look. Most people in this country are opposed to abortion. Most people in this country don't think the government should pay for it and most people think it's bad enough that it exists. Planned Parenthood is simply going to have to find another way to pay for abortions. That's what the people want and, while I cannot speak for the Democrat party, the Republicans are determined, to the best of our ability, to represent the people. As far as other health-related issues are concerned, there are plenty of places for people to go and we have many entitlement programs in place already for providing health care to the indigent. If those aren't working, then perhaps Mr. Reid should not have advocated so vehemently recently for more government care - but less.

See. There are lots of great arguments that could have been made to appeal to the public. They should be being made right now. Today. Because the fight has just begun.


No comments:

Post a Comment