The War of Narratives

Ezra Klein writes:

As I understand it, the GOP has five basic goals in the budget talks:

1) Cut the deficit.

2) Cut entitlement spending.

3) Protect defense spending, and possibly even increase it.

4) Simplify the tax code by cleaning out deductions and loopholes.

5) Lower tax rates.

The White House is willing to cut a deal with Republicans that will accomplish 1, 2, 3 and 4. But Republicans don’t want that deal. They’d prefer the sequester to that deal. That means they will get less on 1, basically nothing 2, 4, and 5, and they will actively hurt themselves on 3. So, rather than accomplishing four of their five goals, they’re accomplishing part of one. Some trade.

I have an explanation for this phenomenon. The main goal of the Republicans right now is to sabotage everything they can in hopes of creating a narrative of constant disasters happening during this presidency. They know that the next presidential election will be their very last chance to save their party in its current format, so they have started working on their campaign already. A budget is small potatoes compared to that huge goal. So the things Klein enumerates can easily be sacrificed to keep the scary concept of a sequester in play.

This is a war of narratives, and we need to remember that the Democrats consistently fail to present a coherent narrative of anything. This has historically been a problem of all progressive movements that I’m aware of.

Thank you, Rob F., for the link.

8 thoughts on “The War of Narratives

  1. I could have come up with such an analysis. I’m very suspicious when a guy who majored in political science rather than economics is asked to comment on this stuff, but he certainly summarized the GOP’s main modus operandi. One can consider George W. Bush and Reagan to be deficit presidents with emphasis on tax cuts. You could even take it further and say that supply side economics is just another form of Keynesian economics and I don’t consider myself to be a Keynesian at all.

    I would probably prefer Nate Silver statistics and mathematical analysis wise.


      1. True. I was thinking about the economic advisors that Obama has or has had previously and I wasn’t implying that were a Marxist in anyway, who would probably consider Obama’s presidency to be a form of late capitalism. It’s all about buying votes for the next election.


  2. The republicans are not trying to sabotage the president per se (I certainly agree that they don’t go out of the way to help him and they would love to see him to be a failure), but rather see this as a true way to cut the “size of government”.

    Republicans do generally believe in a smaller govt. and these will be some of the first real, substanital cuts to govt. in a generation (while only 2.3% of total budget, they are between 5-10% in discretionary and some of the military programs).

    Ulimately, the Republicans are also banking on the fact that while the Obama administration may try to make the cuts as painful as possible, it is likely that MOST citizens won’t be affected, and will realize that much of the worry by the media and democrats has been fear-mongering. This will play out well for Republicans if they don’t back down.

    More generally, I think this is great in general. People will get to see that it is possible and indeed possibly desirable to trim the fat of govt. like corporations and households do. Also, the military will be cut (to republican’s chagrin) and low and behold we won’t suddenly be invaded by everyone on the earth… this is something democrats should be extremely happy about and all citizens should be.

    Still is not addressing the real issue of health costs, slight tweaks to social security, and further miliatry cuts which are needed to shrink the govt. but it is a good start.


    1. “The republicans are not trying to sabotage the president per se (I certainly agree that they don’t go out of the way to help him and they would love to see him to be a failure), but rather see this as a true way to cut the “size of government”.”

      – I find your naivete quite charming. 🙂 The “Big Brother watching/listening/spying/getting in your bed and between your legs” party as a proponent of shrinking the government is a very inventive idea.

      “Republicans do generally believe in a smaller govt.”

      – Funny. 🙂 🙂 The Patriot Act surely helped with that goal a lot. Sticking objects into people’s bodies against their will because the Big Brother wants to promote its ideology is also a huge step in that direction.


  3. complete non-sequitor… those things do not cost a lot of money. In terms of a smaller govt. that requires less taxes and doles out less financial benefits you did not refute my point 🙂


    1. You should have explained that you don’t know the definitions of the words “bigger” and “smaller.”

      A smaller government is in no way guaranteed to dole out less financial benefits. If you don’t believe me, consult a dictionary definition of the word small.

      I’m getting very disappointed in people’s reasoning skills these days.


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