How To Talk About The Austerity Scheme—It’s Dangerous Economics And Cynical Politics
Over the past 30+ years, the Left—and Progressives in particular—have been overwhelmed by the powerful Right Wing Messaging Machine, which has defined Progressives and Progressive policies using their terminology and their frames, and now they are ratcheting up the rhetoric with abandon. If Progressives want to not only win this election, but rally the public at large to support Progressive policy initiatives, it’s imperative that we clearly define both our political opponents’ schemes as well as our own policies, and that we do so in a way that speaks to the moral decision-making centers in listeners’ brains. In this installment of The Winning Words Project, we’re getting a head start on what is almost certain to be another knock-down, drag out brawl over the next debt ceiling vote. If Progressives can get ahead of the game, any attempt by the Right to control the narrative will be lost and the country as a whole will win. So let’s get started …
Austerity in Recession: A Terribly Damaging Obsession
Economist Jared Bernstein examined the evidence from the failed European austerity experiment. His conclusion:
Regimes that pursue austerity—lowering spending by reducing benefits and public services—despite its pervasive and predictable inadequacy, have political—and not economic—motivations.
Looking at economic data from both sides of the Atlantic, Bernstein, former Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, points out that the austerity scheme not only fails to deliver any economic boost, it even fails at its very purpose—to reduce the burden of national debts relative to Gross Domestic Product.
Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, is the market value of all goods and services produced in the country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country’s standard of living.
Simply put, the austerity scheme is a dangerous solution for our country’s debt.
Wake Up, America!
The answer to the question, “Why are we doing it,” is extraordinarily simple, but requires a small bit of history.
After the Great Depression, when Progressives ushered in The New Deal that saw the country not only pull its way out of the darkness, but elevated into prosperity, Republicans were frantic to find a way to negate the positive feelings the country held for their opposition, or risk losing power forever.
Thus was born the theory of “The Two Santa Clauses,” which went like this: Republicans would change their campaign message to “lower taxes,” making them the second Santa Claus. And it had the added benefit of turning the Democrats into “The Grinch” who would have to campaign on either raising taxes or cutting spending to balance the budget.
Ronald Reagan became the ball carrier for this scheme and “A Star Was Born.”
The problem for the Republican Party today is, the past 35 years of a tax scheme for politics’ sake and not America’s sake have taken root and we can see clearly the devastating damage it has caused our economy.
And now they have to figure out how to make being “The Grinch” who cuts spending actually look like a good thing.
How does the Republican Party go about pulling that off? Keep blaming the other Grinch, of course! As their story goes:
“The other Grinch (the Democratic Party) has not only stolen what was yours and given away all the presents from under the tree, but he has “redistributed” all the ornaments, too (to undeserving people, no less!) and the only thing left are the tree branches! HELP! We Must Save The Tree! Stop the other Grinch from giving that away, too, and collect up all the give-aways he’s been distributing willy-nilly so we can have our beautiful tree back!”
Suddenly, poof—now they’re the “heroes” of their make-believe story!