Republicans gain political advantage by being better at politics than Democrats. This is a cold hard truth that Democrats are loathe to admit, even to themselves. There are two primary methods that Republicans employ to leverage and consolidate their political power: First they speak to wedge issues that are so emotionally powerful that they separate voters from 90% of their interests and well being for the 10% that motivates them emotionally. Secondly, they advocate straw dog solutions to complex issues creating quick, easily repeatable catch phrases that sound like they might be effective even though they rarely would address more than the smallest fraction of the issue they are deployed against.
In the State of the Union last night President Barack Obama tore up half of the Republican playbook, not by disproving or refuting the ridiculous straw dogs that the GOP have used to such great effect for years, he co-opted them, embraced them knowing that they won’t solve anything but also knowing that the quickest way to prove that we require more complete solutions is to include the bumper sticker solutions so that they can no longer be used as an excuse. Several examples are below and I would not be at all surprised if I missed a few…
Straw dog: “America has one of the highest rates of corporate taxes in the industrialized world”
Fact: The largest corporations in America pay nothing even remotely approaching the marginal tax rates.
Obama: Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change. So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years – without adding to our deficit.
Straw dog: Freezing spending will be effective at stemming deficits
Fact: Discretionary spending is a small fraction of the budget, cuts or freezes of discretionary spending will have a relatively small impact in relation to the scope of the problem.
Obama: We are living with a legacy of deficit-spending that began almost a decade ago. And in the wake of the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people’s pockets. But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same. So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president. This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we have frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. I’ve proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.
Straw dog: Tort reform will solve skyrocketing health care costs
Fact: Medical malpractice costs and the costs of defensive medicine are a tiny fraction of healthcare spending… Texas has some of the toughest tort reforms and also some of the highest costs per capita for health care.
Obama: Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit. Still, I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.
Straw dog: Small government is better government.
Fact: Size doesn’t matter, it really is about being effective.
Obama: Let me take this one step further. We shouldn’t just give our people a government that’s more affordable. We should give them a government that’s more competent and efficient. We cannot win the future with a government of the past.
Straw dog: Elite Democrats have no respect for the military, not with their policy and not in their institutions of higher education
Fact: Repeal of DADT proved that Democrats respect the service of ALL those who put on the uniform
Obama: Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.
Straw dog: Earmarks are evil and wasteful
Fact: Earmarks are a tool, they are only as evil as the user, also they are a tiny fraction of spending
Obama: And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.
Straw dog: Elites like the President that find fault with America, hate America.
Fact: Caring enough to acknowledge our faults and work to perfect the Union has been the work of patriots for more than 200 years.
Obama: And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.
By embracing the Republicans ridiculous talking points the GOP is left with nothing to be for… They had nothing before but now it is blindingly apparent.