"America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within."
--Joseph Stalin

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tone Deaf Republicans

How to Lose An Election by Fighting the Wrong Battle on the Democrat's Timetable

Will Malven

"Payroll tax cut," even the title is a lie. "Retirement income funding cut" would be more accurate. I'm tired of these left-wing euphemisms and the MSM's relentless use of them in their campaign to keep Democrats in office.

This battle was one which should have been won back six months ago.

I don't know what it is about Republicans that every year they allow these sorts of emotionally charged paycheck issues to be postponed until Christmas time and then suddenly they decide that it's time for them to "show a little backbone."

Everybody who is paying attention knows that "the pay roll tax cut is actually a reduction in the amount of money going into the Social Security "trust fund" (in itself a lie).

This battle is not about helping the working families of America (with Democrats, it never is), it's about using some emotionally charged issue as a club with which Obama and the Democrats can beat Republicans about the head during a season of the year in which money for families is always tight.

Checkmate: At Christmas time, you can't win the battle between reason and "compassion"

The Republicans have been caught playing a fool's game on the fool's turf, by the fool's timetable and now they have been played right into the hands of Democrats and the White House.

House Republicans have got to be the most politically tone deaf people in the world. When they should be standing firm, they roll over and when they should be flexible, they plow forwards like a ship sailing into a hurricane.

How can anybody be so unaware of how this debate is being played out in the press and the eyes of the electorate??? This battle is not solely about what is right or wrong, it is about how the fight is seen by the voting public.

Most people are not spending their days reading political blogs, surfing Drudge and the alternative news web pages, or participating on debate forums, they are catching a half-hour of news in between taking care of their kids, preparing dinner, shopping for Christmas, and working their jobs.

Republicans had two paths to certain victory, both of which would accrue not just to their benefit, but to the benefit of the American people. Problem is that Republicans needed to be fighting this battle six months ago, explaining the issue in terms simple enough and clear enough that the electorate could understand.
  1. First alternative, come out four square against the "tax-cut" by blasting it as a threat to the retirement of the elderly and endangering everyone's social security.

    That is a winning argument. Make it strongly, make it clearly, and make it repeatedly in the public arena, you can't lose it. Combine that with a push for a REAL tax-cut and attack the President's hypocrisy for opposing the Bush tax cuts while promoting a cut to the funding of our social security--you've got victory.

    Hammer the message home. Repeat the description and the message over and over again. Force Democrats to use the language of truth, the payroll tax cut is a threat to the continued existence of a Social Security system that already faces a grave fiscal future.
  2. Their second alternative was to agree to a one year extension of the payroll tax cut "in the spirit of cooperation and bi-partisanship" combined with an implacable demand for the Keystone XL pipeline "so we can get Americans working again."

    Again, hammer the message home. Continue to make the identical argument over and over again and if the Senate Democrats don't pass it, send the exact the same proposal to them again . . . and again--always blaming them for high unemployment and accusing the President and them of "pandering to special interest enviro-wackos at the price of jobs for America's unemployed." Make the Democrats vote down the Keystone XL pipeline over and over again. Another certain victory.
But no, Republicans sent over a one-year bill with the pipeline, the right first move. But then, in the Senate McConnell instantly folds like the cheap suit he is. He compromises with a "kick the can down the road" 2-month extension, with a promise that required Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline within that 60 day window, in effect hanging the House out to dry. Then, without a whisper, McConnell allows Reid to close down the Senate and go home as though the whole issue was solved.

Once more Mitch McConnell has proven how weak and ineffectual he is. Spineless hardly suffices for this go-along-to-get-along, "collegial fellow," inside the beltway politician. Where was the fight to the last man, Mitch? Where were the press conferences held on the steps of the capitol demanding Democrats pass the House bill? Where was . . . any effective leadership whatsoever?

At the point that McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate capitulated, the House Republicans' only choice was to agree to the Senate bill--because it did have a requirement for a decision on the pipeline included in it.

Apparently Boehner, Cantor, and crew are too tone deaf to realize when they've been out maneuvered. Instead of licking their wounds and learning the lessons from this episode, they pigheadedly vote the Senate bill down--without voting for an alternative.

They actually did have one possible path to victory. They should have had the replacement bill prepared and ready to go with another one year extension, the Keystone pipeline, and the unemployment compensation extension. Then they could have set the debate rules--as the Democrats repeatedly did--so that they could pass the second bill within a day, and send it back to the Senate.

If you're going to play hardball, make sure you have the team ready to play and a winning game plan. Boehner and McConnell should have had this all planned out and coordinated so that the onus was instantly placed back on the shoulders of the Democrats in the Senate. Let them go home defending the fact that they had a second chance to pass their beloved "payroll tax cut" and turned their backs on it.

By defeating the Senate plan without having an alternative bill ready to go, House Republicans are fighting a battle they've already lost. They have been routed in the battle for public opinion and we will pay the price in the next election.

We cannot afford to be playing spur-of-the-moment chess in this battle for our economic survival and we can't afford to be out maneuvered by our own side's unwillingness to face down Democrat political ploys.

Republicans are right on the issues. This was a battle Republicans could have and should have won, but, once again, they have allowed themselves to be flanked by the Democrats and the President and portrayed as "Grinches" who are stealing American workers' paychecks.

The Republican leadership has got to do better and we deserve better from our representatives.

Long Live Our American Republic!!!!

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