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Austerity Cliff, Meet Your Solution

February 05, 2013 2:48 pm ET
Today President Obama announced a short-term plan to postpone the "sequester" -- arbitrary, across-the-board cuts that automatically start in March to vital domestic investments like our schools -- with a mix of new tax revenues and spending cuts. Here's how keep up the drumbeat on the need for more tax reform as the President called for and only those cuts to the things the country doesn't need -- so we can protect the things we do need.

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CORE MESSAGE

We can't fix our budget until the richest among us do their fair share.

Connect: Ask anyone if they think our tax code is fair or how much less we should invest in our country.

State of play: To avoid the austerity cliff we now face -- European-style cuts to home front investments like education, public safety, and high-tech research -- we must fix our rigged tax code.

Define: As the President said, we need more tax reform in any fair budget deal so the wealthy and big corporations are paying their fair share of taxes.

Illustrate: Our rigged tax code still allows billionaire hedge fund managers to pay lower taxes than their secretaries and big corporations to use huge loopholes to avoid paying their fair share.

Discredit: Republicans in Congress only say they're done on taxes if they want to keep our tax code rigged.

Offer solutions: It's time we cut what we don't need, like corporate tax loopholes, Big Oil subsidies and outdated Pentagon pork, so we can protect the things we do need like education and jobs.


ATTACKS AND RESPONSES

GOP SPEAKER BOEHNER: "The sequester should be replaced entirely with spending cuts."
RESPONSE:

  • Politicians in Congress only say they're done on taxes if they want to keep our tax code rigged to favor the wealthy.
  • Not only that, they're trying to cut the home front investments important to America's middle class -- like our schools, roads, and bridges. That is the real cliff we face: European-style austerity that Republicans in Congress want to force on America.
  • In fact, if they're looking for massive spending cuts, we already did that. For every $1 in new tax revenue, we've already cut $2.50 from our schools, public safety, and high-tech research.


CONCERN: "Cutting the Pentagon budget threatens jobs and our national security."
RESPONSE:

  • With the wars ending, it's time for the Pentagon budget to come down -- and even defense industry CEOs, some conservative thinkers, and some Republicans in Congress agree.
  • In fact, if the scheduled Pentagon drawdowns go through, the Pentagon budget would merely return to 2007 levels -- when we were still paying for two major wars.
  • The world has changed, and so have the tools we need. We need to reshape the Pentagon budget to keep us focused on current needs and future threats -- instead of forcing our military to build pork projects that the country doesn't need for our national security.
  • Pentagon spending ranks dead last as a way to create jobs compared to investing the same amount in health care, clean energy, or education. 
  • So more massive spending cuts to our home front will lay off even more Americans, dollar-for-dollar, than Pentagon budget cuts.


ATTACK: "We got taxes done, so we need to cut spending next."
RESPONSE: 

  • We need to finish the work on taxes. The tax code is still rigged in favor of the wealthy at our expense -- and corporations and their loopholes got off scot-free. Clearly there is plenty left to do on taxes!
  • And if you're looking for massive spending cuts to the things we need at home, we did that. Congress already passed nearly $2 trillion in spending cuts in one bill alone -- hitting our home front investments like our schools, public safety, and scientific research.
  • If you want to cut, cut the waste like corporate tax loopholes and outdated Pentagon pork that our military leaders don't want, so we can protect the things we need to keep our country working and keep us from going back into recession.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Congress has already passed $1.7 trillion in cuts in one bill alone -- about $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 in new tax revenue -- hitting our home front investments like our schools, public safety, disaster preparedness, and scientific research.
  • Yet we still face another cliff -- more massive spending cuts and job losses. According to one report, at least a million jobs could be lost this year and next because of the slowdown caused by withdrawing so much money from the economy. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that up to 1.4 million jobs are at stake.
  • Republicans in Congress got us here by pushing for massive spending cuts that threw Americans out of work, as well as repeatedly threatening default and strangling job creation efforts ever since President Obama took office.
  • Most of these funding cuts come from our home front programs, which include essentially all federal efforts to keep our air, water, food, prescription drugs, consumer products, workplaces, and borders safe. It also includes funding for medical and scientific research, veterans' health care, nutrition and child care assistance to low-income families, the Smithsonian, and NASA.
  • Due to those funding cuts, and not counting the sequester cuts that begin in March, home front funding will drop to historic lows -- almost 15% lower than its lowest point in the past 50 years.
  • If the automatic spending cuts under sequestration go through in March, we will be cutting $4 in spending for every $1 in revenue -- with 80% of the total money paid for by middle-class and low-income families instead of the wealthiest Americans or big corporations.
  • Due to all the loopholes and special tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations in our tax code, finding the money to help avoid the austerity cliff wouldn't be hard: we can find $1 trillion in new revenue over 10 years by closing just a few of these special tax breaks.
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.

Subject: [Test] MESSAGE MATTERS: Austerity Cliff, Meet Your Solution



 


Posted in - Budget - Taxes - Economy - National Security - Jobs

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