Friday, June 27, 2003

Getting The Attention Of Voters

There's already been some reference here to Michael Tomasky's TAP column that lays out Russert's use of statistical talking points about Bush tax cuts prepared, at his request, by the Bush administration, the better to help Russert ambush Howard Dan last Sunday.

The whole column is worth a read. More than Russert's perfidy, Tomasky's larger focus is on what kind of arguments Democrats should be making about those tax cuts.

But the more important question....has to do with Bush's line of attack in the coming presidential election, and how Democrats should respond to it.

Bush will use the campaign to hammer home two economic points: first, that the tax cuts, now scheduled to sunset after seven years (he had to agree to this position to ensure their passage) must be made permanent. And second, that attempts by Democrats to repeal the cuts, or even Democratic opposition to making them permanent, will lead to a massive tax increase on working Americans.

That won't be easy to argue against


Democrats' historical tendency is to express it in terms of equity and fairness....

Tomasky is all for that, but he thinks it's not enough. He gives three reasons why not, the third being the most important, that arguments which focus exclusively on fairness imply that self-interest is antithetic to equity.

This is a huge problem for post-1960s liberalism, which has decided that self-interest is bad. It's not. Self-interest is just fine. Selfishness is bad. There's a big difference between the two. It's the difference between the basically decent instincts of most Americans and the atrociously indecent agenda of the radical right.

I think Tomasky is onto something important here, about which there is much more to be said. See what you think.