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The SEIU Pigs Fly

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

One has to laugh at the clumsy way the SEIU and Americans United for Change has tried to swipe the GOP message on the budget and the debt ceiling. If the SEIU is really concerned about the debt ceiling then pigs- and maybe others- have learned to fly.  

In new ads released July 21st that target select House GOP members, SEIU claims that the members are “recklessly risking default, recklessly risking jobs and the American economy. They’re willing to risk it all to protect tax breaks for millionaires, oil companies and CEOs who fly around in corporate jets.”

CEOs who fly around in corporate jets? My first thought was, if these CEOs have the ability to fly, why would they need corporate jets in the first place?

The ads are running in U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy’s (WI-7), Dave Camp’s (MI-4), Chip Cravaack’s (MN-8), and Richard Hanna’s (NY-24) districts according to Americans United’s website. 

The ads have bigger problems than just some awkward phrasing.

A long time ago I learned from political advisor Greg Graves that the first rule in political advertising is whatever you say it has to be believable to voters. For example, he said, if you are running a Republican against a Democrat, you can’t make a charge that somehow the Democrat is against increased entitlement spending. It may be true, yet voters will never, ever believe that a Republican will support higher entitlement spending than a Democrat will. To craft a TV ad saying so would be a waste of time and money, both of which are the most precious commodities of a campaign.

And that’s about the politest thing that I can say about the new ads by Americans United and the SEIU.

The ads fail on a few counts in the believability category.

First, there is the problem of the messenger. A messenger can undermine the message of the best message out there. Obama, for example, would have a hard time convincing voters that he’d like to pass a balanced budget amendment, but those darn Republicans just won’t let him. 

So, the SEIU is hardly the right group to be out talking up job creation. They spent the last few years trying very hard to guarantee that SEIU members would have to be laid off in higher numbers by not making concessions on benefits to help ailing state budgets. It’s only been through the determined efforts of governors like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and New Jersey’s Chris Christie that more union workers haven’t been laid off. 

Unions are, at their core, anti-job creation because they are always looking for bigger slice of the existing pie while jobs represent slicing the pie into more pieces.  

The preferred SEIU solution to that dilemma, of course, has been to raise taxes on everyone, not just millionaires and CEOs who can fly. But since the SEIU has been told consistently at the state level to go to hell by citizens, governors, legislators, the courts and even school kids, the SEIU is stuck with demonizing mythical millionaires and CEOs with magical flying powers.

That brings us to the second problem with the ads, which is the message.

Obama and the Democrats own the economy. The ad just reminds people which side really is “recklessly risking jobs.” The Party in power at the White House pushed $11 trillion in chips to the middle of the table. They’ve come up snake eyes on jobs and everyone knows it. The time has come that we have to pay the bill. Bringing up jobs right now is akin to the GOP claiming Democrats want to slash entitlements. This isn’t just bad messaging, it’s bad politics.

And in parroting another party’s lines the Democrats show how hopeless they are when it comes to fiscal issues.

In the release that accompanies the ads, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry says <sniff>, "These Partisan extremists seem willing to drive our economy right off a cliff unless they can enact their job-killing cut and gut economic policies. Congress should be focused on creating jobs, not finding ways to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”

Again, there is a messaging and credibility problem here.

I’ve heard of liberals having two last names like Rodham-Clinton, but three first names, Mary Kay Henry? That just doesn’t make sense.

More problematic though for the Left, is the borrowing of the “job-killing” terminology. In an unconscious way, here the Dems have as much as admitted the effectiveness of the GOP in calling many of the Obama administration’s policies “job-killing.” It wouldn’t be as damaging, but the Dems howled and whined about the GOP using the phrasing “job-killing,” through the fall and the spring.

Must have been pretty darned effective for them to have ripped it off.

Had the SEIU just stuck to calling out the GOP on “finding ways to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” they might have had a chance at getting some traction on the ad.

But having recklessly endangered our economy with an a $11 trillion bet on jobs that panned out for the SEIU and government workers and practically no one else, American voters will trust the Democrats again on jobs and the economy when CEOs learn to fly-without the corporate jets. 

Here's the ad:


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