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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 05:34 PM ET, 08/16/2011

Presto: How to invent GOP talking points in one easy lesson

Now you, too, can be a Republican manufacturer of talking points! That’s right — today you’ll get your chance to invent the Next Big Thing of GOP financial spin. Just pick any nefarious-sounding term from the world of finance or banking and apply it to some policy that Barack Obama and the Democrats support. The only rule? It must be a complete misnomer for whatever it’s ascribed to.

Here are some recent examples of this game:

The Social Security Ponzi scheme that isn’t.

This one has been in the news a lot lately, thanks to new semi-frontrunner Rick Perry. His allegation is that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. The reality is that Social Security has essentially nothing in common with such a plan (if Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, then who is Charles Ponzi in this story?). Here’s an old Kevin Drum post that explains it all nicely. I also like this definition attributed to Russell Long: “Social Security is nothing more than a promise to a group of people that their children will be taxed for that group’s benefit.” That’s about right; it’s a promise that could be broken (because anything can change in the future), but it isn’t dependent on an ever-increasing group of investors hoping to earn a profit.

The debt limit increase is a “blank check”...that’s already been filled in.

This one is from the debt limit showdown, but Michele Bachmann is still using it regularly, including in the Ames debate last week. Her claim is that in asking for a debt ceiling increase, Obama wanted a spending “blank check.” Of course (as noted in the link), the debt limit increase was not a blank check, since the whole point of blank checks is that they have no amount filled in, while the debt limit was raised by a specific amount. Not to mention that what it authorizes the Treasury to do is to borrow money to pay for specific things that were already authorized and appropriated by Congress. There’s nothing blank about it.

The game is clear: people don’t like banks and investment types, and so the idea is to tie your political opponents to those things. I think we should be able to predict the next one. Could it come from regular banking terms — unsecured loans? Hedge funds? Or perhaps from other financial crimes? Are we due for money laundering? Embezzlement? Check kiting? The important thing is that the claimed offense should have as little to do as possible with the name that it’s given. C’mon, commenters: put your entries for the next GOP talking point — and what it will be describing — below.

By  |  05:34 PM ET, 08/16/2011

 
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