Fighting Spin With the Truth

Carol Platt Liebau

12/3/2012 7:58:56 PM - Carol Platt Liebau

The Republicans offered a plan -- in writing -- to avoid the "fiscal cliff." It includes $800 billion in revenue increases, which demonstrates the GOP's reluctant assent to increasing the tax burdens on Americans.  The White House has rejected the proposal out of hand.

The sheer audacity of the President's last proposal shows that Obama sees this as the opening salvos of 2014.  Republicans need to do a better job explaining their position in a way that will allow them to make a strong case for themselves (and for electing more of them) in 2014.

To that end, here are a few issues the Republicans should be raising:

(1) Where is the President's written proposal? Republicans have submitted an outline of their offer in writing, and made it available for every interested American to read.  When will the Democrats do the same?  It's easy for Democrats to demagogue what the GOP proposes -- but substantially harder to do the work to put together a proposal, on paper, where details can't change at the last minute and where the numbers can actually be scrutinized. 

Take-away: Republicans are serious enough to put an offer in writing, and transparent enough to do it where all can see.  Why won't The White House? Are they afraid of Americans seeing the truth about what they're doing?

(2) The administration has proposed allowing the President unilaterally to raise the debt limit without Congressional authorization.  Not only is it an assault on the Constitutiion, which vests Congress -- not the President -- with spending power, it is a mind-boggling assertion of executive authority. And with a fiscally incontinent president in The White House, he potential harm can't be underestimated, if there are no checks or balances on his ability simply to authorize more borrowing.  Whether or not they're big fans of the GOP, most Americans realize that Obama's spending is posing a threat to the economic stability of our country.  It's unlikely that they'd embrace his power grab.  Pointing this out would certainly put the lie to the claims being made by The White House -- as in the linked story above -- that "the only thing preventing us from reaching a deal that averts the fiscal cliff and avoids a tax hike on 98 percent of Americans is the refusal of Congressional Republicans to ask the very wealthiest individuals to pay higher tax rates."

Take-away: This fight is about more than preventing tax increases on the rich.  Republicans are protecting the Constitution, and serving as a buffer against Obama's excesses.

(3) Republicans should point out, endlessly, that they've compromised by supporting higher taxes.  The question is why President Obama cares so much about raising tax rates as opposed to simply getting the tax revenues that are required to help right the ship.  Is the President more interested in punishing "the rich" or in actually solving the problem?  Why go about getting revenues through raising rates -- which will squelch growth -- if simply closing loopholes for the same group will achieve the same end but be less harmful to economic growth?  

Take-away: Republicans are willing to ask Americans to pay more. Obama's class warfare is what's preventing progress.

(4) The Democrats' refusal to make any serious reforms to entitlement programs is supposed to suggest that they "support" the programs, which are most important to the middle class and poor.  But their lack of seriousness about reform indicates just the opposite.  The fact is, the hated "rich" will always be able to survive without the entitlement programs that now exist.  It's the middle class and the poor who will suffer from the Democrats' refusal to consider reforms now, when they would be less painful.  If the GOP were just the party of "the rich," they wouldn't even be willing to take the hit for proposing structural reforms to entitlements like the Ryan plan.  

Take-away: Republican insistence on entitlement reform isn't intended to hurt the poor and middle class.  It's intended to help them -- and Democrats' refusal to participate shows they're putting political gain over helping those they claim to care about most.