July 20, 2010

GOP needs PR on U6 (unemployment)

The latest Gallup poll has a surprising result in terms of divergence between Congressional Republicans and Democrats, suddenly, the Democrats are pulling ahead. It begs the question - what just happened?  I'd say that the GOP needs PR on U6 (unemployment).

Why would that happen? Allahpundit at Hot Air re-speculates at the end of his post;
Update: Alternate explanation, one that’s far more ominous for the GOP since it’s bound to recur as an issue: Is this a reaction to Republicans resisting new money for unemployment benefits.
I think that might be the case.  Fiscal austerity, like taxes are fine if it applies to other people's money it would seem.  When it hits home, people need to survive, stopping funding for extending unemployment benefits is bad PR for the GOP.  But that's not what they are asking for - they are simply asking where the money is going to come from.  Those crafty Democrats have found their spin on the issue - hit 'em with Jim Bunning type accusations, again.  Are the GOP so myopic they can't remember the arguments of 5 months ago?  could they not have foreseen this spin?

President Obama came out swinging;

Does the GOP not recall how well previous attempts at stopping the bleeding of  federal money went? Remember 1995? The GOP made their point and it eventually led to balanced budgets for a number of years - that Bill Clinton took credit for and the GOP took lumps for shutting the government down.

How do conservatives NOT learn from these examples?  The fact is that the unemployment rate is abysmal and the GOP are benefiting electorally from it - even the remotest possibility of the appearance seeming uncaring is at a minimum, ill-timed.  That's where PR (public relations) comes in. Withholding unemployment benefit payments is not at issue.  How to pay those costs, PAYGO, is at issue.  

The GOP cannot manage to get through the liberal clutter in the mainstream media and has to fight the political boxing match with a distinct disadvantage - the media, as referee in this case, are allowing low blows from the Democrats and disallowing points to the GOP for legitimate jabs (in this case, where is the PAYGO principal in all of this extension of benefits as Obama had promised?). The GOP has to now back-peddle and prove to people that they are for unemployment benefits without being for unfunded spending.  Think "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it".

Unemployment is a sore spot for the country, especially if you look at U6 - unemployed plus underemployed and factor in discouraged workers - this is a wide sweeping problem, and the voter swing, if accurate, is not all that surprising.  The deficit is bad, my unemployment check not coming in, is worse.  

The GOP has to either avoid putting itself in this type of situation (learn from President Obama and be vague), or else figure out very quickly how to make such pronouncements in such a way that it is clear to the American people what they really intend to accomplish with their positioning (PR).  In this case, extending benefits is not the issue - paying for it from somewhere else by cutting spending elsewhere is the real objective.  I think the American people are smart enough to make that distinction - provided they actually know the details of the GOP position.


  1. While it was correct to oppose extending benefits, I'm surprised they chose to make this issue their fight. They could have filibustered financial reform, but they decided to wait for this?

  2. Trestin - There's a political decision as well as an economic decision to be made. From a public relations standpoint and a political standpoint, you are absolutely correct - financial reform was a much better fight than this.

    Fighting this is right economically but a really tough argument to make politically. I'd say the GOP lost on both counts since benefits will be extended regardless of the GOP resistance. The have gained nothing by their chosen tactics and possibly, have lost ground in the process.


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