Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Obama needs to counter GOP issues immediately

My column in the Sky Hi News today; also linked by the Wall Street Journal in

The 2012 Presidential campaign is in full throttle with the GOP trying to sell us their pitch that small government, low taxes will cure the Great Recession and any other problem that even indirectly relates to it.

President Obama, on the other hand, has hit the road in defense of his jobs plan, revving up friendly crowds in pep rally style. That approach is not enough if he wants to become more credible to the less friendlies who still have an open mind. He needs to do a better job of countering the GOP's substantive arguments as they arise and not wait for a year.

In the past three years, the GOP has repeated untruths until the untruths have been accepted as fact, even after such assertions got shot down by impressive numbers of independent experts. Instead of calling the GOP out immediately, the administration has often remained silent, allowing the Republicans to turn fiction into common wisdom and making it harder for Obama to persuade voters later.

Now we hear that the president is waiting until the GOP settles on a candidate to paint a contrast between himself and the other guy. Why wait? There are platforms held in common by all of the GOP presidential hopefuls and the president can begin at least countering those now and save other attacks specific to the GOP nominee for later.

To a person, the GOP candidates are firing salvos against health care reform and the president's jobs act. They are a Greek chorus of “kill them both.” The president has not returned substantive fire other than lobbing back fairness issues. This may rally an already sympathetic base, but he needs more substance to woo the skeptical middle. It is not enough to have a day or two of rebuttals by experts on talk media, either. The president himself needs to draw more on credible evidence and logic than he has been doing. His challenge is indeed couching complex argumentation in effective sound bites.

The GOP attack line has been “kill the jobs plan; it won't work. We need long term solutions instead.” That last phrase is the GOP's Achilles heel because the voters need help today, not years from now. Credit Obama for repeating ad nauseam, “pass this bill NOW.” He has not countered the “won't work” argument, though. The rating agency Moody's and the poll by Bloomberg News of leading economists conclude that Obama's job plan will save us from a double dip recession, improve the GDP growth, and increase employment somewhat. Obama should shout out these evaluations and accuse the GOP of hurting job creation and risking a double dip recession by holding short term measures hostage to the long term. Both are needed and complement each other.

Obama's failure to make a case for health care reform has allowed “Obamacare” to enter our vernacular as a dirty word. Both the Simpson/ Bowles report and the Congressional Budget Office say it will save the deficit billions. The president is making a mistake if he is waiting for the Supreme Court to rule in the spring on the laws' constitutionality to begin his counter-attack, because no matter what the Court's ruling, there will still be finger-pointing and threats of new legislation throughout the 2012 campaign.

Polls show that two provisions already in effect in advance of the 2014  full health law implementation are popular: allowing young adults to stay on their parents' insurance and requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions. Is that what the GOP wants to kill? The GOP has never had a plan to provide affordable coverage for the 30 million uninsured other than to let them continue to burden the inadequate ERs, rely on hospital charity that passes their cost on to the paying public, or palm the solutions onto the states who cannot even pay their teachers and firefighters. Obama should call them on it sooner than later.

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