By Joe Kaiser -
With a new poll showing 78 percent of Americans frustrated with the tone of the 2012 race, the Obama campaign tried to turn slightly positive with a new ad this week entitled “The Choice.”
This is pretty much the same rhetoric coming from the president we have heard for about a year now, but it is important to point out a few things to show how he is trying to use this message to appeal to independent voters and also why the ad is severely lacking.
“Gov. Romney’s plan would cut taxes for the folks at the very top.”
The ‘cutting taxes for the wealthy’ line is probably the most recognizable rhetoric spun by the DNC. It was well established on the right that the condemnation of the Bush tax cuts ignores the part where they were cut for everyone, and rather focuses on the cuts for the top five percent or so. Moreover though, when Obama points a finger at Romney’s belief in keeping the current tax rates or perhaps cutting taxes across the board, he is admitting to the American public that he plans to raise taxes on at least five to ten percent of the population.
Just to be clear, here is the tax plan directly from Romney's website:
- Make permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal rates
- Maintain current tax rates on interest, dividends, and capital gains
- Eliminate taxes for taxpayers with AGI below $200,000 on interest, dividends, and capital gains
- Eliminate the Death Tax
- Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
Someone better quickly email the former governor and tell him he forgot the part where he specifically cuts taxes for the very wealthy.
“And roll back regulations on big banks”
Adding ‘big’ in front of something is a general rule of thumb for constructing rhetoric on the left. Whether it is ‘big’ corporations or ‘big’ banks, size somehow equates to evil, at least to whoever is writing the script for the president’s teleprompter.
However, none of these banks were apparently too big or greedy in 2008 when they were funding Obama’s ride to the White House. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc and Morgan Stanley were the president’s second, sixth, seventh and nineteenth largest contributors respectively, with Goldman Sachs donating over a million dollars.
Obama is correct that he and Romney share a difference of opinion on regulatory policy, but if you were just listening to the president’s vilifying rhetoric of corporate America, you probably wouldn’t realize that Obama is a large beneficiary of ‘big banks’ and had no problem voting to bail them out as a senator
“[This approach] is what caused this mess in the first place.”
Most credible economists direct the causes of the economic crisis to monetary policy, with free market economists accurately pointing out the policies of the Federal Reserve (oh hey, another ‘big bank’) that injected large amounts of easy credit into the economy, creating an unsustainable boom and an asset bubble that eventually burst. The nation felt the results, especially in the housing sector, but the majority of Americans are not well versed on the cause. Obama likely does not believe that the Bush tax cuts and deregulation were the main causes for the collapse, but he does know that most Americans are not economic experts. Deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy sound like reasonable causes and with a lot of Americans hurting from the economy, they may be accepted answers if the right cannot correct the narrative.
Obama has not talked much about monetary policy because up until recently debating the Federal Reserve has not been a mainstream issue. But with Ron Paul’s ‘audit the Fed’ bill passing the House of Representatives with large bipartisan support, it will be interesting to see what the president does if the bill reaches his desk. The bill has a good chance to die the democratically controlled senate, so Obama does have a good chance to avoid facing a real issue and keep hammering home his falsehoods about the recession.
" [I will] ask the wealthy to pay a little more so we can pay down a debt in a balanced way."
Unlike banks and corporations, DNC rhetoric never labels the debt as ‘big.’ Well, it is and all the wealthy people in the country cannot come together to pay it back. Saying ‘a balanced approach’ will sound good to a lot of independents just as ‘bipartisan’ approaches are often times desired just for the sake of bipartisanship. The president can call his approach ‘balanced’ or ‘fair,’ but the truth is nibbling at baseline budgeting and raising tax rates on Americans making over $250,000 will not put a dent in the debt. Sixteen trillion and counting cannot be tackled unless a serious look is given at entitlements and overseas spending, much larger factors in the debt. Taking an axe to both would also be a ‘balanced appraoch’ in a way, but that is probably something no establishment politician would ever admit in a campaign season.
While all this spun information can be discredited and analyzed, it still makes for good campaign rhetoric. As long as he remains neck and neck with Romney, Obama’s message must be appealing to someone. The task the RNC and the Romney campaign are going to be dealt is to not only create a contrast with the president’s message, but to also paint it in a way that makes it seem false, out of touch and inauthentic.
If they can’t do that, Obama will have an edge because it is undeniable that the man still has an impressive way of delivering words. It’s just the context and true meaning of those words that, when analyzed, is not so impressive.