Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Clash Of Ideas 

Behind President Obama's budget document is a gloomy view of the future and a desire to have the federal government intervene to create jobs.  Behind the Republicans' opposition is a desire to cut down the size of the federal government and its debt and have the states take on the heavy lifting.  This is a philosophic clash that goes back to the beginning of the country and the role of government.  Like Jeffersonians, Republicans believe in a weak -- or weaker -- federal government and strong states.  Like Hamiltonians, Democrats strive for a strong central government and weaker states.  The clash will never be settled, but it shows time and again in budget proposals.  Because Obama lost both houses of Congress, his budget ideas are DOA.  He might get some of what he is asking, but it will be little.  

How as a communicator should one deal with this clash?  There is no good way to hearken back to the thinking of the country's founders because too much has happened since.  One can only appeal to the interests of the public at the moment, which is what Obama is doing.  He has decided on class warfare to make his case -- tax the rich to feed the middle class.  That appeals to average householders and is anathema to the wealthy.  It is also unlikely to work since high income individuals already supply most of the tax dollars in the federal government budget anyway.  So the budget document will remain a vision of what the country could be but not a reality.


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