Friday, September 07, 2012

DNC Messaging

It’s a little bit like watching a fly fallen into mug of beer wildly flapping its wings. Once the rhetorical mood hits Governor Dannel Malloy, he DOES go on.
One has only to compare the talking points in the 20 minute speech given by Mr. Malloy with those given by 1st District U.S. Representative John Larson to understand that the script from which both borrowed was co-produced at Central Casting.

In his pre-speech remarks, Mr. Malloy vowed that he would not spend his time during his strut on the national stage talking about himself, unlike his Republican Party nemesis, Governor Chris Christie of New York. Reporters and commentators who have covered the much traveled, fleet-footed Mr. Malloy since he was first sworn in as governor well understand how the presence of a camera awakens the showman in him. Unlike preceding Republican Governor Jodi Rell, Mr. Malloy does not shrink from partisan displays, and be bathes in media adulation more often than other Connecticut politicians.

This dramatic announcement from Mr. Malloy – it’s not about me; really, it’s never about me – was somewhat subverted when 1st District U.S. Representative John Larson stepped to the podium and delivered a 20 minute stem-winder that was 1) about himself and 2) overburdened with pretty much the same central casting talking points employed by Mr. Malloy.

Malloy on the GOP plan for entitlements: “Malloy said the GOP plan would slash education and entitlement programs ‘so Romney can give a tax cut of $265,000 to your average millionaire, and continue billions of dollars in subsidies for big oil.’

Larson on the same:  “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a different vision. Look at the details. The biggest problem with the Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare is obvious: They take away the Medicare, they end the guarantee, hand out vouchers, limit benefits, and force seniors to pay the difference of up to $6,400 dollars out of their own pockets.”

Same church, same pew, same rollicking partisan sermon; nothing unusual here, considering the setting. The progressive lions on the convention floor wanted red meat, and the two Connecticut Democrats gave it to them. Political conventions are part pulpit show, part circus sideshow. Everyone is expected to bow to the pieties and cheer wildly when the bearded lady is brought on stage.

Asked whether the country was better off than it had been before Mr. Obama took office, Mr. Malloy cried out exuberantly “Hell, yeah!”

A few short weeks before the DNC convened, Newsweek – hardly a conservative organ of opinion – printed a devastating cover story written by Niall Ferguson, “Obama’s Gotta Go,” that chilled the bones of Obamabot economist Paul Krugman:
Certainly, the stock market is well up (by 74 percent) relative to the close on Inauguration Day 2009. But the total number of private-sector jobs is still 4.3 million below the January 2008 peak. Meanwhile, since 2008, a staggering 3.6 million Americans have been added to Social Security’s disability insurance program. This is one of many ways unemployment is being concealed.

“In his fiscal year 2010 budget—the first  [Mr. Obama] presented—the president envisaged growth of 3.2 percent in 2010, 4.0 percent in 2011, 4.6 percent in 2012. The actual numbers were 2.4 percent in 2010 and 1.8 percent in 2011; few forecasters now expect it to be much above 2.3 percent this year.”

Unemployment was supposed to be 6 percent by now. It has averaged 8.2 percent this year so far. Meanwhile real median annual household income has dropped more than 5 percent since June 2009. Nearly 110 million individuals received a welfare benefit in 2011, mostly Medicaid or food stamps.”

In America today, Mr. Ferguson pointed out, only half of the population is “invested” in its government:

“Nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return -- almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit. We are becoming the 50–50 nation -- half of us paying the taxes, the other half receiving the benefits.”

Debt burden figures, Mr. Ferguson maintained, are grossly underappreciated. He then hauled from the closet the “most recent estimate for the difference between the net present value of federal government liabilities and the net present value of future federal revenues—what economist Larry Kotlikoff calls the true “fiscal gap” -- is $222 trillion.”

The $222 trillion gap between expected future revenues and liabilities is a measure in dollars of the difference between the past and future prosperity of the country. “Not only did the initial fiscal stimulus fade after the sugar rush of 2009,” Mr. Ferguson writes, “but the president has done absolutely nothing to close the long-term gap between spending and revenue.” And while Mr. Ferguson, once an advisor to presidential candidate John McCain certainly is no fan of Mr. Obama, neither is the non-partisan data brought forward in the Newsweek cover story, which apparently has not been read by the ebullient Mr. Malloy or Mr. Larson.
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