Friday, April 29, 2011

Guest Post - Communication is the Key:The Path to Prosperity vs The People's Budget

Today's Guest Post comes to us from long-time reader, first poster on The Urban Politico - MsChan.  So please show her some love in the comments below as we explore the Path to Prosperity plan vs the People's Budget.


On April 5, Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District Representative Paul Ryan released the highly anticipated GOP budget plan – The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise. I downloaded the 73-page color PDF and took a stab at it. The scope of the plan served as a comparison guide, (Obama v The GOP) including graphs, side-by-side analysis, clear language, and repetitive GOP talking points. This told me two things; the GOP understands their audience (language, comparison and graphs) and they clearly have a communications strategy – that is kicking our ass! I decided not rush to judgment and test the waters for a possible democratic strategy. I called my Congressman Charlie Rangel’s Office to inquire. Just as I thought, there was no freaking strategy! Congressman Rangel’s office referred me to the President’s February announced budget, which is over 1000-pages. Why didn’t the Democrats have a 25-page plan to hit back at the GOP the next day? Why did they allow Paul Ryan’s plan to shine, receive praise and glory? Why can’t democrats win the communications war?

In January 2009, the Republican Party got together and vowed to deny President Obama of any legislative victories. They united and vowed to be the “Party of No.”  With their unity in place, they masterminded an almost flawless communications strategy. Their vernacular consisted of one phrase “The American People.”  They screamed this over the airwaves and it immediately alerted their base, that they were taking actions that would protect them from “Big Bad Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.” The Republican Party knows their base, better than the base knows themselves. Republican lawmakers and political figures go to one network when they want to get their message out or focus on a specific strategy. 

When Barack Obama took office, he immediately requested congress to produce the stimulus package. The stimulus package was labeled "waste" by the GOP and they fought to the very end to stop its passage. They even claimed to have a better plan, that created more jobs and would cost less. Even after the passage of the package, they spoke ill of it and predicted “Armageddon.”  Later that summer, as funds were disbursed to communities, the very lawmakers whom voted against the package, showed up at ribbon cutting ceremonies, celebrated with constituents and posed for photo ops.  President Obama later got a hold of the photos and talked about it a few times, shamed them a little, but still there was no traction.

Let’s fast forward to the healthcare debate.  In my opinion, the summer of 2009 proved to show the GOP’s messaging at its finest.  First they told the public, Democrats were trying to “pull the plug on Grandma.” Democrats tried to fight back, but the GOP folded on the phrase before Democrats even got their gloves on, after entering the ring. Then came my favorite part, “the public option will give healthcare to illegal immigrants.” Democrats didn’t even show up to the ring for this fight, President Obama took the public option off the table.  Then entered Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District Representative, Michelle Bachmann, who said healthcare reform - now labeled ObamaCare - “kills jobs.”  We fought back just enough – we arrived at the ring and put our gloves on. Thank God for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Speaker Pelosi whipped the caucus into shape and got the bill ready for passage, but not before one last GOP attempt at derailment. "ObamaCare funds abortions!!" Democrats never left their couch for this fight. President Obama promised to sign an Executive Order banning federal funds in the bill to be used for abortion – even though the Hyde Amendment already prevents this. Democrat’s clearly lost the communications war in 2009.  Despite those flaws, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress passed a lot of key legislation.

Paul Ryan’s The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise will end Medicare as we know it – the plan will really “pull the plug on Grandma!” The program would provide seniors with a voucher to cover their medical costs. They will use the voucher to shop for private insurance through an exchange. Of course, the average medical costs of a senior citizen will far exceed the amount of the voucher.  If grandma needed hip replacement surgery at $35K and her voucher only covered her for $15K, the plug would be pulled on her.  The plan also calls for further tax cuts for wealthy Americans, from 35% to 25%.  At a time when our treasury is suffering, the 10-year heist continues.  Our middle class is close to obsolete and the rich are getting richer by the minute.  In the words of the great Ted Kennedy, “when does the greed stop?”  The American people have gotten a hold of this plan and are beginning to understand the master plan that the GOP has in store for our country. 

Democrats have to beat the Republicans over the head, with facts. Liberals should have taken to the airwaves and screamed “THE REPUBLICANS WANT TO PULL THE PLUG ON GRANDMA,” just as the GOP gang did during the Health Care Reform Debate.  All mediashould be showing coverage of the backlash Republicans are getting at the townhalls in their districts.  Both Congressman’s Paul Ryan and Sean Duffy had their asses handed to them by their constituents, who will suffer from their “Plan to Destroy America.”  Who can forget the constant stream of video footage from town halls during the Health Care Reform Debate – it was in a constant loop, we couldn’t escape it. So far, Rachel Maddow is the only show, where I’ve seen coverage on the anti-Path to Prosperity town halls.

Wednesday, while listening to “Make it Plain” – Mark Thompson’s show on SiriusXm, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who serves California's 35th congressional district, came on air to discuss the Progressive Caucus’ response to the Ryan Budget -The People’sBudget. It was the second time I had heard about the budget that day and I had yet to see the actual plan. This morning I downloaded it and briefly skimmed it. The document is 12-pages long, uses clear language,it's categorized, uses graphs and it seems to get straight to the point. This is a great tool to help people really understand what’s going on, how they will be affected, and exactly what’s at stake. However, it’s a little too late. Paul Ryan and the GOP have dominated the conversation and people feel lost and a sense of frustration is setting in. According to Daily Kos, the plan was released on April 13th, but I didn’t hear about it until Tuesday, April 26th. We needed this plan to make an impact on April 13th. Democrats can’t release a plan and wait thirteen days for it to make impact. Democrats must do a better job of responding to Republicans and educating the people.

Liberals and Progressives on the ground need to help the Democratic Party move their message. We have a long way to go until we get our country back on track.  If the Republicans scream “we are the party of job-creation,” Democrats need to immediately hit back, scream louder, and ask them why they haven’t passed any job-creation legislation. It’s more than winning in 2012.  We need to expose the Republican Party for the con artists they are. They shouldn’t be allowed to get by on creative and false messaging.

Can the Democrats turn their failure of messaging around? 

If they don’t, what will this mean in 2012 for the President and Congress? 
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