Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It's all about trust - a winning GOP strategy

Pat Caddell, Jimmy Carter's former pollster, has a long essay telling Republicans how to use the Supreme Court's decision that the mandate is really a tax to devastating effect in the upcoming election. He reminds us that the Obama administration played fast and loose with how they labeled the mandate pretending sometimes that it was a tax and other times that it wasn't a tax. He and his congressional allies were lying to the American people and hoping no one would notice.
Now the issue is his character. The President promised no new taxes on the middle class, specifically saying that the mandate was a penalty, not a tax. Meanwhile, through the entire process of the legal challenge to Obamacare, Justice Department lawyers argued that the mandate was a tax. Indeed, his own Solicitor General asserted before the Supreme Court in March that the mandate was a tax.
It was a classic “bait and switch.” So thus the inevitable question: Was the President trying to deceive us when he said that the mandate was not a tax? Or were his aides deceiving him--telling him to say one thing while they said another? Answering that question poses a Hobson’s Choice for Obama: On the one hand, he admits to deception, and on the other hand, he admits that he can’t detect deception within his circle--and furthermore, that he tolerates it after it is exposed. No matter what the answer to that forked question, the President will have lost his 2008 glow; he is no longer the man who can transcend the blue-state/red-state division through the grace of his own noble character.
Obama knew that the bill wouldn't have passed Congress if it were labeled as a tax, so the Democrats kept denying it was a tax and Obama went around the country promising people that no one under $250,000 a year would see an increase in any of his or her taxes. Not only is the mandate a tax, but there are 20 other new taxes within the bill. Timothy Noah describes the Medicare payroll tax increase and wonders why the GOP isn't making more of a fuss about that. There are five tax increases in Obamacare that will be hitting in January 2013. And there are a total of 20 different taxes in Obamacare that will be hitting people over the next few years plus the tax against those who don't buy health insurance.

As Pat Caddell argues, the Republicans should be making the connection between Obama's deceptions about taxes in Obamacare to attack Obama's basic trustworthiness as a leader.
Not to put too fine a point on things, Obama has misled, or dissembled, a total of three times: First, he misled by insisting that the original legislation was not a tax increase. Second, he continued to say that it was not a tax increase, even as his lawyers were saying it was. And third, his people continue this misleading charade even after it has been exposed as false.
So again, the “T” word is really two words: “taxes” and “trust.” These are the twin Achilles Heels of Obamacare.
Obama sold himself to voters as a transformational figure; now it's clear that he's just another lying politician who will lie to the American people and hope that no one will call him on it.

Of course, Romney has his own problems talking about Romneycare and whether or not it was a tax, but, as Mona Charen points out, there are plenty of differences between Romneycare and Obamacare.
The Massachusetts law contained an individual mandate, which states — unlike the federal government — are allowed to impose. But it did not consist of 2,700 pages of new regulations; 159 new boards and commissions; and more than $500 billion in new taxes (and counting); the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a rationing board whose decisions are unreviewable by the courts and practically untouchable by Congress itself; restrictions on religious liberty; Medicare cuts; affirmative action mandates for medical and dental schools; huge new authority over one-seventh of the U.S. economy for the secretary of Health and Human Services; and open-ended regulations of the way doctors and others perform their jobs.
If the Republicans can make that connection between Obama's lies on taxes and his lack of honesty in general, it will open up all sorts of other lines of attack on him. It will connect to the basic dishonest of his current ads and attacks against Romney's experience at Bain as well as deepening mistrust over Obama's vows to improve the economy. If the people can't trust him for what he's told us in the past, why should we trust him for what he tells us he's done in the future? We already know that we can't trust him for what he promised in 2008. Jim Geraghty has a long list of the dozens of expirations of Obama promises. And that is just a list of broken Obama promises by March of 2010. The RNC has a longer and more up-to-date database.

Imagine how devastating it would be to have ads running continually hammering away on the trust issue for Obama. We already know that we shouldn't have trusted him to improve the economy, but voters might cut him slack on that buying his blame Bush first defense. But what about his deceptions about his own policies? That will be harder to ignore. It's a simple, but devastating message: if we can't trust him, why should we reelect him?