See Harold Meyerson’s Washington Post Column Today
Yesterday I wrote that I expect the Dems to recapture control of the House in the 2014 election, despite the current extreme-gerrymandering. I listed reasons why, and noted that while it’s been reported that in order to do that the Dems would have to win nationally, in the aggregate, in House races by between 7% and 8%, they did that in 2006 and 2008; at least that’s what I read recently.
A main focus of that post was on the importance of ensuring that the public actually understands that “raising the debt ceiling” is not raising appropriations but, instead, simply authorizing payment by the Treasury of already-appropriated expenditures.
But there are other tremendously important facts that the Dems badly need to tell or explain to the public. One is something that I was shocked to read a day or two: that Defense Department appropriations have doubled in the last decade, from about $270 billion to (if I recall correctly) about $580 billion–during a decade of dramatic tax reductions.
Another is that the budget deals of the last two years, including the “fiscal cliff” one, coupled with a (however-slowly) recovering economy (fueled partly, at least in the rust-belt Midwest, by the auto-industry bailout), will have reduced the national debt by about $2.7 trillion dollars. A fourth of that (if I correctly recall the article I read) is from the tax hikes in the fiscal cliff deal. Y’know, the part of that deal that the Republicans fought so hard against and that most of their House delegation voted against. The remainder comes from–yup–reductions in federal spending.
Obama of course will tout the reductions in federal spending, in his inaugural and State of the Union addresses. He probably also will mention the added revenue from the fiscal-cliff-deal tax-rate increases on the very wealthy.
But he also needs to point out–to say and then explain–what Meyerson does in his column today.
Obama, it seems, thinks that explaining anything economics-related to the masses is like explaining rocket science to people like, say, me. It’s not. He needs to do it. He needs a speechwriter who, rather than concentrating on writing memorable, lofty lines–the standard job of presidential speechwriters–actually understands fiscal policy and can, and will, craft a speech that explains it in the way some of the best liberal pundits do.
But if he doesn’t do that, others, I trust, will. And soon. They’ll do effectively enough to create a public groundswell that will win the House for the Dems next year.
I think he does not have to explain anything,the american people voted him a second term.through executive order he can ban all guns,give amnesty to all illegals,and tax the rich 75%,that will balance the budget.outlaw all fossil fuel,all soda, junk food,and have his own civil military.he could call them,oh I don’t know,brown shirts.after all the people have spoken,pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
That’s an interesting concept David, the President rules by acclamation. Does he have to first declare martial law? Or are you simply adding a distracting thought to Beverly’s post?
I don’t see why we should expect the President or any other elected official to “explain” reality to the public. Yes, elected executives are supposed to lead, but were is it written in history that they should also educate beyond trying to explain to an ignorant populace why they take the positions that they take. When in American history have the people been offered detailed explanations by elected officials? The last effort I can recall was specific to the Constitution debates when Hamilton and Madison in the role of pamphleteers, made efforts to explain their positions in regards to various specifics of the document being debated.
Educating the masses is what the media might have done in a better time. Marat and Robespierre come to mind. Now we have Rupert Murdoch and Rush Limbaugh. At a time when our economy is going to hell in a hand basket for the vast majority there seems to be little effort amongst journalists to play an active role in the reporting of facts and details of important consequences. Maybe the masses are not yet bad off enough to begin to focus on their economic well being before their prejudices.
I’m not sure I understand your comment, Jack. No one–no one–knows every fact. And virtually no one–myself, included, best as I recall–ever even heard of the debt-ceiling statute until 2011. Much less do most Americans know the specifics of what the statute says and does.
Why would they? Why do you think this should be common knowledge?
There’s a huge difference between things that Repubs say that people already know, from their own experience or because it’s common knowledge or easily observable, are false, and things the Repubs say that most people would not know from their own experience or because it’s common knowledge, or is easily observable, are false.
So, to answer your question: Obama and the Dems have to educate the public about Repub disinformation that falls into the latter category, or allow the Repubs to accomplish whatever they want. Including winning elections.
You haven’t heard of the unitary executive? 🙂
Ah. How quickly we forget. Bush and his Federalist Society Justice Dept. and White House Counsel’s Office have been out of office for only four years.
Where’s John Yoo when we need him?!
Jack (and Bev)
well, there were the fireside chats.
(it’s called leadership.)
An excellent point and one highlighting the difference between then and now. I did not say or imply that any information of any importance was, is or should be common knowledge. Such knowledge seems to no longer exist in our society. The part of the comment beginning “Educating the masses is…” My intention was, and is, to point out that members of the political class are the most unlikely to focus on the facts of any issue. I think the problem stems from the fact that both sides of the ideological divide don’t really want the public to have too much knowledge. Even if it means not defending one’s own position with facts, but instead falling back on rhetoric, valid or otherwise. I think the point was well made a bit more than two hundred years ago. And yes, I’ve cited this before and often.
“When will the people be educated? When they have enough bread to eat, when the rich and the government stop bribing treacherous pens and tongues to deceive them. When will this be? Never.” M. Robespierre
i think you may be right. Certainly I have had a very hard time presenting the facts about SS to the political establishment.
What has discouraged me is that the folks who call themselves Progressives have also photo-shopped the facts right out of the picture.
I suspect it is a basic fact of human nature.
I will add that in the course of casual conversation with friends and acquaintences I have been able to “educate” many to the facts regarding SS. Most are a bit surprised by those facts, but quickly understand the logic and legitimacy of the system’s financial structure. Mano a mano (or girlo?) is the best way to inform friends.
That said though it would be a big step in a better direction if the media, especially the news media, would focus on the facts of each side of an argument rather than simply regurgitating the sides of an argument with no reference to the validity of each side’s position. Don’t hold your breath. Marat is long dead and so too is FDR. We don’t even have Edward R. Morrow or Walter Conkrite.
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I don’t know that much about Marat, but Tom Paine was writing “truth” at about the same time.
Probably most of the people who joined Washington’s army, and who voted for the Constitution had read Paine. And Paine was enough of a humanitarian to vote against the execution of Louis XIV.
The French put him in jail. And the Americans did their best to forget him.
Thanks for the mano a mano. Though Hemingway may not have known it, it means hand to hand.
In deed, Paine was a busy pamphleteer in his day and one who inspired admiration, but maybe not until he was long gone. The U.S. gentry had a vested interest in the health and wealth of Louis, but it was Louis XVI who lost his head. One might say that the latter Louis paid for the excesses of Louis Quatorze, his grand dad. Quite the dashing fellows were both. Granted that those like Marat, Danton, Robespierre et al can be accused of excessive zeal in their efforts to change the social structure and conditions of France at the time. Read some detailed accounts of the efforts of the third estate to negotiate with their betters over the several years prior to 1789. Then read the details of life for the average French citizen and the excesses of the revolution pale in comparison to the levels of avaricious greed common amongst the nobility and the upper ranks of the clergy. It was a time of kill or be killed. Not a pleasant time at all. It was a bit of political irony that Louis helped bankroll our own revolution, but one might make the case that he was fighting the English by proxy. War being a favored past time of 18th Century Europeans.
i meant Louis 16. basic dyslexia. all them roman numerators look alike.
a lot of people were killed in the Terror who ought not have been. that is not a good model to endorse.
Paine was well regarded until he wrote Age of Reason which seemed to attack religion… and it did, but not the way people thought… or didn’t think.
i don’t know that the folks who “forgot” Paine did so because it was convenient for them, or because they never thought about much anyway, or if Paine just got old and grouchy.
But certainly high school (and college) history mentions him only in passing. and he was much more important than that.