Saturday, May 14, 2022

Misbegotten Strategy

In late February, Florida senator Rick Scott, chairperson of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, issued an 11-point "Plan to Rescue America." There are two items which, broadcast widely, would undo much of the gain Republicans have made in the middle- and lower-middle classes the past few decades

Section 5 included "All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax." 

They represent poor individuals and families, and those of modest means, who have benefitted enormously by the earned income tax credit, extremely popular across the electorate.

And included in section 6, "Government Reform and Debt," "all federal legislation sunsets in 5 years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again." As this reporter explains

Here is the language from page 19: “All federal legislation sunsets in 5 years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.” [There are a number of promised changes on that page all under the rubric of “Government” but this one is quite a doozey!]

Now among the many federal laws on the books is a law called the Social Security Act. This law was originally passed in 1935 to create Unemployment Insurance, Aid to Dependent Children (cash welfare for widows and orphans --- later extended to cover all poor single women with children renamed Aid to Families with Dependent Children [AFDC]), and Old Age and Survivors Pensions (what is commonly thought of today as “Social Security.”). Since then, the law has been amended many times and expanded dramatically.... Included in the current law is an entire section covering Medicare which is administered by the Social Security Administration. (Medicare was passed as an amendment to the Social Security Act in 1965.)

So --- if Scott actually understood his own proposal, the entire Social Security Act --- including Medicare and the Social Security Pensions almost all Americans over 70 are receiving monthly --- would either disappear (that’s what “sunsetting” means, by the way) or have to be re-enacted by Congress.

We must applaud Rick Scott for reminding us not only of the GOP's harsh cultural agenda, but also of the economic plan for destroying the middle classes. So with Scott handing Democrats a prime talking point and obvious campaign issue, in a speech on May 8

“Let me tell you about this ultra MAGA agenda,” Biden said, using former president Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan — “Make America Great Again” — as a pejorative. “It’s extreme, as most MAGA things are.”

Then, in the subsequent days, Biden and his team continued to hammer Republicans in aggressive terms, attacking them as “MAGA” and “ultra MAGA.” Biden even dismissed his predecessor at one point as “the great MAGA king"....

Biden’s attempt to appropriate the “MAGA” brand as a political attack was hardly accidental. It arose from a six-month research project to find the best way to target Republicans, helmed by Biden adviser Anita Dunn and by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal group.

The polling and focus group research by Hart Research and the Global Strategy Group found that “MAGA” was already viewed negatively by voters — more negatively than other phrases like “Trump Republicans.”

It's hard to believe any political party could be this stupid.  Conjured up by a GOP strategist, it would be a brilliant tactic to move the Overton Window to the right.  If the bad position is ultra-MAGA, surely MAGA is in the sensible middle.

One Republican strategist noted "Biden and his folks" are "taking the most iconic, successful political slogan of all time and trying to turn it into something derogatory. I mean, who doesn’t want to make America great again?” And leftist (in the best possible way) David Dayen remarked "Excuse me, I have to pick up my head after it ejected from its body and found the nearest wall to explode into."

Hopefully some Democrats are listening to the tweeter with a mere 57 followers who understands

Rick Scott handed them their midterm message on a silver platter. Why aren't they talking about his threat to sunset SS and Medicare?

But few are, and the reason may lie in the criticism of Scott's plan by The New Republic's Jason Linkins, who has written 

.....the real value in Scott’s proposal is that it exposes that when it comes to policy, the GOP hasn’t embraced some new “Trumpian” portfolio. For all of Trump’s rhetorical and attitudinal contributions to the party, the extent to which he diverged from Republican orthodoxy in office has always been overrated and overstated. His campaign promises to bring middle-class populism to Washington were left wrecked and abandoned within his first 100 days in office. Hell, beyond allowing shadow president Leonard Leo to install three Supreme Court justices, Trump’s main accomplishment in office was a tax cut for the wealthy.

Trump innovated nothing, and while Scott’s plan is dressed up like something new under the sun, at its core it is just the same old reversion to the same old Republican mean. Scott has no real new ideas, and some of the ones on which he’s placed a big bet aren’t as popular with the public as the media often makes them out to be.

Joe Biden in 2019 referred to the Trump presidency as "aberrant moment in time" and boasted "if we defeat Donald Trump, you're going to see, as we say in southern Delaware, an altar call. You're going to see people all of a sudden see the Lord." (Note: "altar call" is used throughout the USA and maybe elsewhere.)  Admittedly, Biden wasn't alone.


Now he is discouraged. However, he still believes the problem lies with a faction of the Republican Party. Thus, the President rails against the "ultra MAGA," as if the entire Republican Party isn't embarked on the crusade it began over forty years ago.  The wing of the Democratic Party which Joe Biden ostensibly leads, which the mainstream media assures us is far more sensible than the progressive wing, is (or pretends to be) under the delusion that the nation is threatened only by the crazies of the GOP.

"Kick me" (or "us") reads the sign on the back of Rick Scott, at one time CEO of a company which perpetrated what was at then the largest Medicare fraud in history. The "epiphany among many of my Republican friends" which Biden predicted in 2019 would occur after the defeat of President Trump hasn't come, and time is running out. And Joe Biden believes they're still his friends.

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