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President meets with Republican leaders

November 30, 2010

So the President called Republican leaders to the White House today and had a summit meeting about the way forward. The press conferences afterward were really no big surprise.  The President came out of the meeting and said, “we’ve all agreed” that the American people want us to stop playing games and move forward, compromise to solve America’s looming economic problems.

Republicans John Boehner and Eric Cantor  came out and said, basically, “The President admits he could have included Republicans more often in crafting past legislation.”

Whatever!

Far as I’m concerned, the Republicans aren’t changing their obstructionist tune. The President appointed a commission to study ways to come up with a compromise solution to the problem of the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts: to preserve the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of American earners, or not. The Republicans repeated their never-changing stance: “no tax increases”.

Christ, I’m tired of hearing them say “No tax increases.”  They act like “no tax increases” or “cut taxes” is the answer to every possible question. How to jump-start jobs growth? “Cut taxes!”   What will clean up our air and water? “Cut taxes!” How should we wind down our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? “Cut taxes!”  (which is of course, monumentally stupid – never before has any government maintained itself successfully but cutting taxes during a war, let alone two wars)

Whatever! As far as I’m concerned, the Republicans aren’t showing any signs of changing their “no!” stance. If they’re not going to come to the table with solutions other than “no” and “cut taxes” I’ve got no use for them. In fact, I go one better: the President SHOULD invite them the White House. Regularly. Let them come to the White House, time and again, to discuss thorny economic issues….   and let them leave the White House – regularly – to stand on the White House lawn and say “no” and “cut taxes”.

Then the President and Congressional Democrats should toss out idea after idea for fixing our economy. They need to do it publicly, loudly and over many media channels, including social media like Facebook and twitter where a lot of their core youthful voters reside.

Take just one issue, Democrats. Take Social Security reform and throw out a bunch of ideas.  How about raising the retirement age in phases? Or raise the retirement age for most workers but leave it as-is for the few remaining blue collar workers who do hard physical labor day after day? How about phasing out the income cap on taxes paid by employers? How about phasing in an income ceiling above which wealthy retirees don’t receive benefits? How about asking the super-rich to volunteer to return their benefits? Make it a contest: who can volunteer to return the most SS benefits they don’t really need?! It’s time to be creative, because we’re not getting anywhere with standard ideas.

Democrats, you must use colored charts and CBO estimates of exactly what the savings would be for each suggested idea. You have to SELL IT, Dems. Sell it like we’re stupid. Americans aren’t stupid but they do prefer American Idol to C-SPAN, so adapt your salesmanship methods.

What of it America? You don’t like these ideas? Fine. Then let’s have some more. Let’s have a twitter fest about how to reform Social Security!  Let’s have town hall meetings. Let’s do something other than having “summits” where the two parties say the same old, same old.

If the Democrats and the White House followed my advice, eventually one of two things will happen —

  • either the Democrats will hit on a combination of somethings that makes sense to the American public and then the Republican leadership will find themselves on the wrong end of a public relations debacle….   or
  • even the most hard-core Red Stater will find that the current Republicans leadership is as useless as they are pig-headed.

Of course the whole scheme will only work if the Democrats stop pussyfooting around and actually propose something useful, instead of just co-opting every Republican idea that polls well.

The Republicans need to grow a brain. The Democrats need to grow a spine and hire a competent PR firm. And the American public needs to grow an attention span so we’re not swayed by stupid talking points anymore.

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