Saturday, December 16, 2006

Democrat Strategy

I saved this article a few years ago and found this early strategy employed by the Democrats to mold public opinion to be quite eye opening. Note the date of the article. From the election results it seems that the Democrats succeeded in changing the public's perception as a result of this strategy. Do any of you feel that the" TRUTH" is being manipulated so that public perception matches party agenda and doctrine? It is kind of scary that public relation campaigns can change public opinion even if it defies "TRUTH."

Dems plan to undermine America to beat Bush January 6, 2003 By DOUG THOMPSON

Democrats plan to undermine public confidence in President George W. Bush by challenging his credibility and raising doubts about America, sources within the party tell Capitol Hill Blue. A multi-pronged attack against Republicans and the President will focus not only on economic issues, but question American values, raise doubts about how this country is viewed by other nations and question the patriotism of Bush and his party. The extensive campaign, developed by senior Democratic consultants and party leaders, was launched last week with attacks on the Bush economic plan by Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Richard Gephardt. In coming weeks, Democratic elected officials will question the President’s intentions on the pending war with Iraq. Writers and broadcasters friendly to the Democratic cause have already been provided talking points suggesting the war is about oil, not terrorism. “The talking points were developed before the end of last year and sent out to operatives and friendly media,” one Democratic consultant confided. “No Democratic member of Congress will question the President’s patriotism openly but we will use the media and other surrogates to raise doubts.” Capitol Hill Blue obtained a copy of the talking points when the Democratic National Committee sent them to a news outlet recently acquired by CHB’s parent company. The talking points outline a strategy to raise public doubts of the President’s real intentions, including: --Saying the war is about oil and will be fought to benefit oil companies that have long supported Bush and the Republican party; --Claiming the Bush administration has “manufactured” evidence against Saddam Hussein and used that evidence to encourage Britain and other allies to join the American fight against Iraq; --Suggesting a wartime economy is the only way the administration can revive the country’s lagging economic situation. “It is clear that the current approval ratings of the administration are tied directly to strong American feelings toward traditional values,” the talking points say. “To counter this, doubt must be raised as to America’s true position within the world community and the true intent of the Bush administration in waging war.” Some Democrats admit privately they are uneasy with the party strategy to undermine American values in an attempt to get Bush. “My boss doesn’t want anything to do with it,” one senior Senate aide told Capitol Hill Blue on Monday. “You don’t undermine this country to win elections.” Others, however, are willing to try anything to put the White House and Congress back under Democratic control. “The real war isn’t in Iraq,” one Democratic consultant said. “It’s right here at home, at the ballot box in 2004.” Among the other points Democrats hope to make in the coming weeks: --Both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are controlled by oil and defense industry special interest groups. --The war on terrorism is a failure because Osama bin Laden is still at large. --America is unprepared for another terrorist attack because of White House preoccupation with Iraq. --War will increase the country’s economic woes. --Bush will be forced to raise taxes to finance the war. “It’s time to take the battle to the people and make them understand just how dangerous George W. Bush’s policies are to the future of America,” the talking points conclude. Democratic sources say the talking points were developed by Democratic Chairman Terry McAuliffe, former Clinton campaign strategist James Carville, Senate Majority Leader Daschle and former House Democratic Leader Gephardt. “This is a classic, Jim Carville, scorched earth campaign,” crows one DNC staffer. “Take no prisoners. That’s how you win elections.” Democratic party spokesmen would not return phone calls seeking comment on this report.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Republican Contract With America

This is the second installment of how Republicans have morphed into the very type of leadership that they despised and will continue with the Contract With America . This platform was embraced by Republicans and they swept into Congressional control in 1994. Was there anything worthy in this Republican platform?

REPUBLICAN CONTRACT WITH AMERICA As Republican Members of the House of Representatives and as citizens seeking to join that body we propose not just to change its policies, but even more important, to restore the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives.
That is why, in this era of official evasion and posturing, we offer instead a detailed agenda for national renewal, a written commitment with no fine print.
This year's election offers the chance, after four decades of one-party control, to bring to the House a new majority that will transform the way Congress works. That historic change would be the end of government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public's money. It can be the beginning of a Congress that respects the values and shares the faith of the American family.
Like Lincoln, our first Republican president, we intend to act "with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right." To restore accountability to Congress. To end its cycle of scandal and disgrace. To make us all proud again of the way free people govern themselves.
On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Republican majority will immediately pass the following major reforms, aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:
FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.
Thereafter, within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, we shall bring to the House Floor the following bills, each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny.
1. THE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out- of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses. (Bill Text) (Description)
2. THE TAKING BACK OUR STREETS ACT: An anti-crime package including stronger truth-in- sentencing, "good faith" exclusionary rule exemptions, effective death penalty provisions, and cuts in social spending from this summer's "crime" bill to fund prison construction and additional law enforcement to keep people secure in their neighborhoods and kids safe in their schools. (Bill Text) (Description)
3. THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: Discourage illegitimacy and teen pregnancy by prohibiting welfare to minor mothers and denying increased AFDC for additional children while on welfare, cut spending for welfare programs, and enact a tough two-years-and-out provision with work requirements to promote individual responsibility. (Bill Text) (Description)
4. THE FAMILY REINFORCEMENT ACT: Child support enforcement, tax incentives for adoption, strengthening rights of parents in their children's education, stronger child pornography laws, and an elderly dependent care tax credit to reinforce the central role of families in American society. (Bill Text) (Description)
5. THE AMERICAN DREAM RESTORATION ACT: A S500 per child tax credit, begin repeal of the marriage tax penalty, and creation of American Dream Savings Accounts to provide middle class tax relief. (Bill Text) (Description)
6. THE NATIONAL SECURITY RESTORATION ACT: No U.S. troops under U.N. command and restoration of the essential parts of our national security funding to strengthen our national defense and maintain our credibility around the world. (Bill Text) (Description)
7. THE SENIOR CITIZENS FAIRNESS ACT: Raise the Social Security earnings limit which currently forces seniors out of the work force, repeal the 1993 tax hikes on Social Security benefits and provide tax incentives for private long-term care insurance to let Older Americans keep more of what they have earned over the years. (Bill Text) (Description)
8. THE JOB CREATION AND WAGE ENHANCEMENT ACT: Small business incentives, capital gains cut and indexation, neutral cost recovery, risk assessment/cost-benefit analysis, strengthening the Regulatory Flexibility Act and unfunded mandate reform to create jobs and raise worker wages. (Bill Text) (Description)
9. THE COMMON SENSE LEGAL REFORM ACT: "Loser pays" laws, reasonable limits on punitive damages and reform of product liability laws to stem the endless tide of litigation. (Bill Text) (Description)
10. THE CITIZEN LEGISLATURE ACT: A first-ever vote on term limits to replace career politicians with citizen legislators. (Description)
Further, we will instruct the House Budget Committee to report to the floor and we will work to enact additional budget savings, beyond the budget cuts specifically included in the legislation described above, to ensure that the Federal budget deficit will be less than it would have been without the enactment of these bills.
Respecting the judgment of our fellow citizens as we seek their mandate for reform, we hereby pledge our names to this Contract with America.

Friday, December 08, 2006

This will be the first installment of how Republicans have morphed into the very type of leadership that they despised and will start with the Reagan roots of modern day Conservatism.
It is interesting to analyze Conservative goals early on versus the actions that were taken while they were in power. What is your take on the Conservative downfall?

by William A. Niskanen
"Reaganomics" was the most serious attempt to change the course of U.S. economic policy of any administration since the New Deal. "Only by reducing the growth of government," said Ronald Reagan, "can we increase the growth of the economy." Reagan's 1981 Program for Economic Recovery had four major policy objectives: (1) reduce the growth of government spending, (2) reduce the marginal tax rates on income from both labor and capital, (3) reduce regulation, and (4) reduce inflation by controlling the growth of the money supply. These major policy changes, in turn, were expected to increase saving and investment, increase economic growth, balance the budget, restore healthy financial markets, and reduce inflation and interest rates.
Any evaluation of the Reagan economic program should thus address two general questions: How much of the proposed policy changes were approved? And how much of the expected economic effects were realized? Reaganomics continues to be a controversial issue. For those who do not view Reaganomics through an ideological lens, however, one's evaluation of this major change in economic policy will depend on the balance of the realized economic effects.
President Reagan delivered on each of his four major policy objectives, although not to the extent that he and his supporters had hoped. The annual increase in real (inflation-adjusted) federal spending declined from 4.0 percent during the Carter administration to 2.5 percent during the Reagan administration, despite a record peacetime increase in real defense spending. This part of Reagan's fiscal record, however, reflected only a moderation, not a reversal, of prior fiscal trends. Reagan made no significant changes to the major transfer payment programs (such as Social Security and Medicare), and he proposed no substantial reductions in other domestic programs after his first budget.
Moreover, the growth of defense spending during his first term was higher than Reagan had proposed during the 1980 campaign, and since economic growth was somewhat slower than expected, Reagan did not achieve a significant reduction in federal spending as a percent of national output. Federal spending was 22.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in fiscal 1981, increased somewhat during the middle years of his administration, and declined to 22.1 percent of GDP in fiscal 1989. This part of the Reagan record was probably the greatest disappointment to his supporters.
The changes to the federal tax code were much more substantial. The top marginal tax rate on individual income was reduced from 70 percent to 28 percent. The corporate income tax rate was reduced from 48 percent to 34 percent. The individual tax brackets were indexed for inflation. And most of the poor were exempted from the individual income tax. These measures were somewhat offset by several tax increases. An increase in Social Security tax rates legislated in 1977 but scheduled for the eighties was accelerated slightly. Some excise tax rates were increased, and some deductions were reduced or eliminated.
More important, there was a major reversal in the tax treatment of business income. A complex package of investment incentives was approved in 1981 only to be gradually reduced in each subsequent year through 1985. And in 1986 the base for the taxation of business income was substantially broadened, reducing the tax bias among types of investment but increasing the average effective tax rate on new investment. It is not clear whether this measure was a net improvement in the tax code. Overall, the combination of lower tax rates and a broader tax base for both individuals and business reduced the federal revenue share of GDP from 20.2 percent in fiscal 1981 to 19.2 percent in fiscal 1989.
The reduction in economic regulation that started in the Carter administration continued, but at a slower rate. Reagan eased or eliminated price controls on oil and natural gas, cable TV, long-distance telephone service, interstate bus service, and ocean shipping. Banks were allowed to invest in a somewhat broader set of assets, and the scope of the antitrust laws was reduced. The major exception to this pattern was a substantial increase in import barriers. The Reagan administration did not propose changes in the legislation affecting health, safety, and the environment, but it reduced the number of new regulations under the existing laws. Deregulation was clearly the lowest priority among the major elements of the Reagan economic program.
Monetary policy was somewhat erratic but, on net, quite successful. Reagan endorsed the reduction in money growth initiated by the Federal Reserve in late 1979, a policy that led to both the severe 1982 recession and a large reduction in inflation and interest rates. The administration reversed its position on one dimension of monetary policy: during the first term, the administration did not intervene in the markets for foreign exchange but, beginning in 1985, occasionally intervened with the objective to reduce and then stabilize the foreign-exchange value of the dollar.
Most of the effects of these policies were favorable, even if somewhat disappointing compared to what the administration predicted. Economic growth increased from a 2.8 percent annual rate in the Carter administration, but this is misleading because the growth of the working-age population was much slower in the Reagan years. Real GDP per working-age adult, which had increased at only a 0.8 annual rate during the Carter administration, increased at a 1.8 percent rate during the Reagan administration. The increase in productivity growth was even higher: output per hour in the business sector, which had been roughly constant in the Carter years, increased at a 1.4 percent rate in the Reagan years. Productivity in the manufacturing sector increased at a 3.8 percent annual rate, a record for peacetime.
Most other economic conditions also improved. The unemployment rate declined from 7.0 percent in 1980 to 5.4 percent in 1988. The inflation rate declined from 10.4 percent in 1980 to 4.2 percent in 1988. The combination of conditions proved that there is no long-run trade-off between the unemployment rate and the inflation rate (see Phillips Curve). Other conditions were more mixed. The rate of new business formation increased sharply, but the rate of bank failures was the highest since the thirties. Real interest rates increased sharply, but inflation-adjusted prices of common stocks more than doubled.
The U.S. economy experienced substantial turbulence during the Reagan years despite favorable general economic conditions. This was the "creative destruction" that is characteristic of a healthy economy. At the end of the Reagan administration, the U.S. economy had experienced the longest peacetime expansion ever. The "stagflation" and "malaise" that plagued the U.S. economy from 1973 through 1980 were transformed by the Reagan economic program into a sustained period of higher growth and lower inflation.
In retrospect the major achievements of Reaganomics were the sharp reductions in marginal tax rates and in inflation. Moreover, these changes were achieved at a much lower cost than was previously expected. Despite the large decline in marginal tax rates, for example, the federal revenue share of GDP declined only slightly. Similarly, the large reduction in the inflation rate was achieved without any long-term effect on the unemployment rate. One reason for these achievements was the broad bipartisan support for these measures beginning in the later years of the Carter administration. Reagan's first tax proposal, for example, had previously been endorsed by the Democratic Congress beginning in 1978, and the general structure of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 was first proposed by two junior Democratic members of Congress in 1982. Similarly, the "monetarist experiment" to control inflation was initiated in October 1979, following Carter's appointment of Paul Volcker as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. The bipartisan support of these policies permitted Reagan to implement more radical changes than in other areas of economic policy.
Reagan failed to achieve some of the initial goals of his initial program. The federal budget was substantially reallocated—from discretionary domestic spending to defense, entitlements, and interest payments—but the federal budget share of national output declined only slightly. Both the administration and Congress were responsible for this outcome. Reagan supported the large increase in defense spending and was unwilling to reform the basic entitlement programs, and Congress was unwilling to make further cuts in the discretionary domestic programs. Similarly, neither the administration nor Congress was willing to sustain the momentum for deregulation or to reform the regulation of health, safety, and the environment.
Reagan left three major adverse legacies at the end of his second term. First, the privately held federal debt increased from 22.3 percent of GDP to 38.1 percent and, despite the record peacetime expansion, the federal deficit in Reagan's last budget was still 2.9 percent of GDP. Second, the failure to address the savings and loan problem early led to an additional debt of about $125 billion. Third, the administration added more trade barriers than any administration since Hoover. The share of U.S. imports subject to some form of trade restraint increased from 12 percent in 1980 to 23 percent in 1988.
There was more than enough blame to go around for each of these problems. Reagan resisted tax increases, and Congress resisted cuts in domestic spending. The administration was slow to acknowledge the savings and loan problem, and Congress urged forbearance on closing the failing banks. Reagan's rhetoric strongly supported free trade, but pressure from threatened industries and Congress led to a substantial increase in new trade restraints. The future of Reaganomics will depend largely on how each of these three adverse legacies is resolved. Restraints on spending and regulation would sustain Reaganomics. But increased taxes and a reregulation of domestic and foreign trade would limit Reaganomics to an interesting but temporary experiment in economic policy.
The Reagan economic program led to a substantial improvement in economic conditions, but there was no "Reagan revolution." No major federal programs (other than revenue sharing) and no agencies were abolished. The political process continues to generate demands for new or expanded programs, but American voters continue to resist higher taxes to pay for these programs. A broader popular consensus on the appropriate roles of the federal government, one or more constitutional amendments, and a new generation of political leaders may be necessary to resolve this inherent conflict in contemporary American politics.