To win in the fiscal showdown, we must make the case that our budget approach reflects true fiscal responsibility, not just our values as a nation and the mandate from voters. Remember, sound economic policy and public opinion is already on our side. If we don't also expose the other side's lack of fiscal responsibility while claiming it for ourselves, we cede it.
We can invest in creating jobs or more tax cuts for the wealthy. Which sounds more fiscally responsible to you?
Our national budget is about more than just numbers -- it's about doing what's right and what works. Fiscal responsibility means putting Americans back to work and investing in our most efficient systems -- not taking money out of seniors' pockets and wasting it on more tax cuts for the wealthy.
More money in the pockets of regular Americans means more customers in our stores. More customers for our businesses mean more economic growth that shrinks the deficit, too.
Where there's waste -- like Big Oil subsidies, special tax loopholes for the wealthy, and outdated Pentagon pork our military leaders don't want -- cut it.
But just forcing Americans to get less from our most efficient and popular systems like Medicare and Medicaid, so they have to go without or pay more for less from private insurers? That isn't morally right or fiscally sound.
Instead, let's try to get more value for our money, like by letting Medicare negotiate for better drug prices, and make sure-bet investments with huge economic payoffs, like investing in our kids' health and education.
Republicans in Congress are offering to help pass the GOP tax plan for the wealthy that America just rejected if we help them pass the GOP plan to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that America still rejects.
ATTACKS AND RESPONSES
ATTACK: "The deficit is a huge threat to our country."
- Really? A bigger threat than terrorists or climate change or the mass unemployment crisis? How does the deficit affect you personally?
- Of course Washington should be responsible with taxpayer money. The budget needs to be what's best for the country. The good news is that the best way to fix the deficit is to fix jobs first.
- This deficit scare talk is coming from politicians who think Social Security and education funding are too popular. The actual economic experts are warning that if we let those politicians force European-style austerity on America, we're inviting another recession -- and even bigger deficits.
- Let's also remember what's driving the deficit: the Great Recession, borrowed money for the two wars, and the Bush tax cuts -- which came from the same Republican politicians who are now trying to use the mess they created to push through their ideological agenda.
ATTACK: "Entitlements are out of control and needs to be cut."
- Let's be clear what we're talking about: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Voters were clear about the mandate they handed down this election: don't mess with these programs.
- In fact, in these times of tight budgets, we should be investing more in what works -- the most efficient systems for securing our health care and financial security.
- But instead of trying to protect these programs and get more value for our dollars, Republicans in Congress are trying to use the deficit they created to scare us -- so we'll let them privatize Social Security, turn Medicare into a voucher, and wash their hands of Medicaid altogether.
- And to fix the deficit, let's go with the most fiscally responsible way we know how -- fix jobs first.
ATTACK: "Liberals never want to cut any spending at all, including waste."
- Actually, where there's waste -- like Big Oil subsidies, special tax breaks for the wealthy, and outdated Pentagon pork our military leaders don't want -- we should cut it.
- We should also be trying to get more value for our money, like by letting Medicare negotiate for better drug prices and stopping wasteful overpayments to private insurance companies.
- So instead of more tax cuts for the wealthy, we want to make sure-bet investments with huge economic payoffs for everyone, like investing in jobs and in our kids' health and education.
- Which approach to the budget sounds more fiscally responsible to you? The problem is that Republicans and their corporate allies oppose getting rid of the actual waste -- while pushing for more tax cuts for themselves.
ATTACK: "Americans are living longer so the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare should go up."
- It's great news that people are living longer, though it's not true for everybody. Let's make sure we all have decent retirement income and health coverage when we actually starting needing it, not at some age made up by politicians in Washington toying around with budget numbers.
- These are the kinds of arguments you often hear from wealthy corporate CEOs and out-of-touch politicians who really just don't like Social Security and Medicare -- and never had to do hard manual labor or worry about their own health insurance.
- How sensible does it sound to you to force people to get less from our most efficient and popular systems like Medicare, so they either have to go without or pay more for less from private insurers? If we want to save money, let's start by letting Medicare negotiate for better drug prices.
- And to keep our Social Security system strong, there's an easy adjustment: instead of letting millionaires and billionaires pay a lower rate, close the tax loophole that lets them pay a lower rate than the rest of us for the same guarantee.