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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Reich: Two Big Lies Enable GOP Obstructionism

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich’ HuffPo post, “Why Obama Must Meet the Republican Lies Directly” merits a thoughtful read by President Obama and his messaging team. Reich faults the administration for being anchored in a short-sighted strategy regarding the sequester, which is to “tell Americans how awful the spending cuts will be, and blame Republicans for them.” Reich responds:

It won’t work. These tactical messages are getting in the way of the larger truth, which the President must hammer home: The Republicans’ austerity economics and trickle-down economics are dangerous, bald-faced lies.

Reich concedes that the sequester cuts will cause a lot of pain, but it will be delayed in some cases and too many Americans won’t feel the pain in time to hold the Republicans accountable. Many others won’t experience much hardship. In addition, the GOP message machine could mobilize to blame the President for “high-visibility consequences of the spending cuts — such as a sudden dearth of air-traffic controllers” and force Obama to make the cuts himself. Worse, adds Reich, “there’s no end to this. After Friday’s sequester comes the showdown over continuing funding of the government beyond March 27. Then another fight over the debt ceiling.”
Instead argues Reich:

The White House must directly rebut the two big lies that fuel the Republican assault — and that have fueled it since the showdown over the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011.
The first big lie is austerity economics — the claim that the budget deficit is the nation’s biggest economic problem now, responsible for the anemic recovery…Wrong. The problem is too few jobs, lousy wages, and slow growth. Cutting the budget deficit anytime soon makes the problem worse because it reduces overall demand. As a result, the economy will slow or fall into recession — which enlarges the deficit in proportion. You want proof? Look at what austerity economics has done to Europe.
The second big lie is trickle-down economics — the claim that we get more jobs and growth if corporations and the rich have more money because they’re the job creators, and job growth would be hurt if their taxes were hiked…Wrong. The real job creators are the broad middle class and everyone who aspires to join it. Their purchases keep economy going.
…These two lies — austerity economics and trickle-down economics — are being told over and over by Republicans and their mouthpieces on Fox News, yell radio, and the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. They are wrong and they are dangerous…Yet unless they are rebutted clearly and forcefully, the nation will continue to careen from crisis to crisis, showdown to showdown.

Reich argues that the white house should play to its strength and the GOP’s weakness:

President Obama has the bully pulpit. Americans trust him more than they do congressional Republicans. But he is letting micro-tactics get in the way of the larger truth. And he’s blurring his message with other messages — about gun control, immigration, and the environment. All are important, to be sure. But none has half a chance unless Americans understand how they’re being duped on the really big story.

The President’s messaging team may differ with Reich on this. But it’s important that they give due consideration to his point that a bully pulpit confrontation of the two big Republican lies — about value of austerity budgeting and ‘trickle down’ economics — is much needed.

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