Perfect Democratic Ad? "My Opponent Voted to Raise Your Taxes in 2011":
Sometimes it all comes down to spin and semantics. For one of the Republican statements out there that has become the media's conventional wisdom is that President Obama wants to "raise" taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans. This is simply false. It implies an action by the President that he is not taking. He has not proposed raising anyone's taxes. He does want to lower the taxes of the other other 98% of us. But he is not doing anything nor, he says, does he desire to do anything with the taxes of that portion of the population earning more than a quarter million a year. He doesn't have to raise their taxes. Republicans took care of that nearly a decade ago.
If the Rude Pundit were advising, say, Democrat Charlie Melancon in his Senate race against incumbent diaper aficionado David Vitter, he would tell the congressman to make an ad that says just that: "David Vitter voted to raise your taxes in 2011." Unlike what Republicans are currently saying about Obama, that is a true statement. In 2001, then Rep. David Vitter voted for the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act. As the President said last week, it was "by design" that the tax cuts in that Bush-pushed bill would expire ten years out. Why? Because Republicans, as usual, were bypassing a Senate rule, this time on adding to the deficit over the long-term, essentially blocking any attempt at a filibuster by Democrats and allowing the bill to pass by reconciliation.
Here's how David Sanger explained it in the New York Times back in the day: "Altogether, taxes are to be reduced by $1.35 trillion, slightly less than the $1.6 trillion President Bush proposed over 10 years. But the lower number was met by assuming that all the tax cuts would expire in 2010, and unlike the president's proposal and the bills passed by the Senate and the House, no revenue loss was shown for 2011." You got that? The only way the bill passed was to end the tax cuts, now known as a "tax increase." If you voted for the bill, you voted for a tax increase down the road. It's absurd as hell, but it's cut-and-fucking-dried.
(Fun fact: Republicans were so intent to pass massive tax cuts for the wealthy that Majority Leader Trent Lott fired the GOP-hired Senate parliamentarian because he had made some decisions on rules and procedure that favored Democratic positions on the bill.)
Rules are rules, for sure. And as any golfer will tell you, the more you can use them in your favor, the better. But another rhetorical failure by Democrats in this election cycle is in letting Republicans get away with what was, at best, a deceptive vote in 2001 (and, to a lesser extent, 2003). Make these fuckers own their chicanery. Make them own up to their lies and machinations.
In a debate, in the race that the Rude Pundit is theoretically discussing, Melancon could ask, "Did David Vitter vote to allow tax cuts to expire (or for tax rates to increase) in 2011?" Yeah, he did. There ya go.
The follow-up: Why? If the tax cuts were a natural good, why not debate their permanence then? Oh, right. Because Democrats were trying to stop this march to fiscal insolvency. And because we now know that the tax cuts weren't good for the country. Actually, most of us on the left and center knew back then that they'd fuck us up. We even knew there'd be hell to pay some day. Now, why not use their contortions to make the Republicans pay?
(Note: Yes, this can be used against some Democrats, like Ben Nelson, who went along with the tax cuts. But, mostly, fuck 'em.)