One Pagers

Showdown Cliff Notes

November 09, 2012 11:35 am ET
There's no question about a "mandate." Americans sent our leaders a clear message -- whether our leaders got the message will be seen in the first test case: the Congressional lame duck showdown over the expiring Bush tax cuts and the "sequestration" spending cuts. (It looks like Speaker Boehner didn't.) Here what the mandate means for the values, principles, and litmus tests that should guide our leaders through the showdown.

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The mandate to our leaders: put regular Americans first.

Define the choice: Voters faced a clear choice between two very different visions for America -- and chose a country that puts regular Americans who work for a living ahead of just the wealthiest few.

Define the win: The President won a decisive victory because of who had his back: Families living paycheck to paycheck and Americans striving to build a better life for themselves.

Contrast: Republican politicians like John Boehner are pushing the same trickle down agenda America rejected, starting with the Romney tax plan to make the middle class pay more so the rich pay less.

Brand: They should quit trying to force European-style austerity on America. We should fix the deficit the American way: put people back to work and grow our economy by getting rid of tax breaks that don't.

Lead: The greatness of our leaders is judged by who they fight for when the chips are down, whose backs they have when there aren't perfect choices. Who that is should be clear from the mandate from the American people.


There is a fiscally responsible approach to our national budget and it recognizes that:

  • The middle class and families who work for a living are the true engine of economic prosperity for all Americans.
  • The real job creators driving our economy are the working people who keep our businesses thriving and hiring.
  • If you're serious about dealing with the deficit, you have to get the economy on its feet first before we start cutting things and hurting the recovery.
  • So let's get serious about lowering the debt by asking the richest among us to pay their fair share and getting rid of waste like corporate tax loopholes and subsidies, so we can invest in our economy to put people back to work.

So when it comes to judging ideas for deficit reduction, here are the litmus tests:

  • If it takes money out of the pockets of hard-working regular Americans struggling in this Wall Street-created recession, it should be off the table. If it's waste, cut it.  
  • We know what to protect. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits -- the foundations of financial security for regular Americans who work for a living.
    • In fact, our leaders should be seeking to strengthen these programs, not just fend off cuts, because they are by far the most cost-efficient ways to secure our retirement and health care. In these times, we can't afford to be wasting money on more expensive alternatives.
  • We know what to cut. Wasteful tax breaks for the wealthy, tax loopholes that reward corporations for offshoring jobs, and waste like outdated Pentagon pork our military leaders don't want.
  • We know what to invest in. Education, infrastructure, and clean energy -- investments that put people to work and will make sure the economy we leave our children stays the envy of the world.

Our national budget reflects our values and priorities as Americans -- this election, the American people clearly chose:

  • An America with an economy getting back on track and leaders committed to putting Americans back to work.
  • An America where we turn to each other in tough times instead of turning against each other.
  • An America where everyone pays their fair share and gets a fair shot.
  • An America that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.

Our national budget must also respect that the American people rejected an extreme agenda and said no:

  • To going back to the top-down economic policies that failed working families and going easy on Wall Street, which got us the financial crisis -- creating the recession that exploded the deficit.
  • To an "I've got mine and the rest of you are on your own" agenda to keep the richest few from paying a dollar more in taxes -- shifting more of the burden to working families.
  • To an agenda that cuts Social Security, turns Medicare into a voucher and raises costs for seniors, and cuts programs that lift up struggling families striving to make a better life for themselves.
  • To divisive, bitter political brinkmanship, where Republicans in Congress recklessly risk the economy just to protect the wealthy from paying their fair share in taxes.
  • To an approach that keeps the game rigged for the privileged few, where the wealthy and Wall Street write their own rules while the rest of us pay the price.

We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn't working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.


Posted in - Budget - Taxes - Economy - Jobs

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