100 Billion Dollar Backlash

Promoted from the diaries by Dan Spencer.

“We will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone,” plainly reads a section now under much scrutiny in the House Republican’s ‘A Pledge to America.’ It was a section that was written by the now Majority Whip, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California’s 22nd district.

Unfortunately an “aide” is credited with telling the media the figure will likely be $50 to $60 billion. This was the House GOP’s first hit job and the media didn’t even wait for the a committee hearing.

While the earliest I can seem to find legitimate media coverage appears in The New York Times’ Jackie Calmes, ABC News too followed before the video feed even began for the House. It was an open party after that. Media institutions started reporting on the story without citing a source, passing it off to the public as fact that had already happened. Let’s pretend that liberal blogs didn’t lead off with the unsourced claim.

If you were watching CNN the meme began with Wolf Biltzer and Dana Bash, after they were done attacking Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa for using the word “corrupt” back in the fall, seriously. Every single show, hosts and correspondents, during this historic shift in the balance of power packaged focused on the $100 billion day one “broken promise.”

John King interviewing Rep. Tim Scott from South Carolina’s 1st district brought up this issue and this issue alone. Scott said the House should go after $300 billion and at least try, which would also allow the House to prevent raising the debt ceiling, and the war that would ensue. He went further to concede that it would be a broken promise if Republicans couldn’t find at least $100 billion this year. Democratic operatives leaped for joy as the media began collecting what will eventually be sold to the public as “conflicting” statements on the $100 billion “broken promise.”

The DCCC should be indicted for inciting a riot.

Tea party activists, groups like One Nation PAC, good representatives like Scott, and even the general public believe there is at least $100 billion that can be cut out there. If the House leadership fails to deliver, it’ll create some significant blow-back.

Was Calmes approached by a Republican staffer? Highly unlikely. With the Washington liberal blogs leading the story, it’s more likely that there’s some talent at one of these Democratic campaign committees that deserves a gold star.

This tactic is among the best you can use in the business. Create underlying murmur, give a credible media institution a tip and a link, that media institution follows up with a mid-level staffer, and you got the opposition playing defense.

Worse off, while the many GOP freshmen present a unique communications challenge, they’re already falling into the media construct. Accept the diversity of opinion within the caucus, but show some discipline.

The House Republicans got beat to the punch.

The first response is less than acceptable. House Republican leadership is pushing back asserting that half the fiscal year is already over, which it’s not-it’s closer to one fourth, and that the Democrats failed to pass a regular budget eliminating the opportunities Republicans thought they’d have, which they didn’t-running on the fact that Democrats refused to pass a regular budget. I predict the Republicans will regret backing themselves into this even shorter time-frame to find the cuts.

The Pledge was useful, but it is time to stop so heavily promoting it, lest Republicans fall by it. Tea party movement leaders are just looking for an excuse to rile up their base.

Maybe conservative bloggers were right. Erick Erickson of RedState said the Pledge lacked substance, while Ed Morrissey of HotAir gave it a little more credit with possibly “getting the process started,” while acknowledging it was a little “gimmicky.”

Washington politicos tend to stick to something even when it’s beyond salvage. Cling to the promises and principles of the Pledge, but the constant attempt at promoting it isn’t being grasped by the general public but it’s flaws will be portrayed as a “broken promise” by the mainstream media.

Even the following morning, the House’s most trained communications weapon and the newly minted Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor is on CNN responding. His approach is simple, avoid assigning a figure and salvage the language around it. Jon Ward of the Daily Caller points out that powerful Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan’s, known for being able to hold his own, responses are “technical and legalistic-sounding.”

It’s not a winning strategy and 241 House Republicans are not going to be able to do it. Find the $100 billion or accept the meme. Use the government domain to publish simple and savvy infographics showing the cuts as we progress throughout the year. Put the public on notice that Democrats too should be responsible for finding $50 billion in cuts of existing funding.

The public wants a reduced and less financially-bloated federal government. Republicans can win this, but moving the goal post this early will result in failure.


Ali A. Akbar is a Republican political online communications strategist and formerly President of Republic Modern Media. An activist and veteran operative in the field with roles in notable insurgent campaigns, Akbar is a key voice on the tea party, new technologies, and web design and development.