There are two simple ways the Democrats could go on the offensive against stated Republican economic policies, rather than continually being put on the defensive.
1. Republicans: "We'll cut
regulations." Well, regulations are not an end in themselves: they are
the mechanism for enforcing government protections of the
public. Protections against dirty air and water, against unsafe working conditions, against fraud in the marketplace, against toxins in our
food, against airplanes crashing into each other - you could extend the
list as long as you wanted. All the Democrats have to do is change a single word: don't defend regulations per se, but go on the attack by pointing out that Republicans want to do away with protections.
2. Republicans: "We'll cut spending." Cutting government spending
means putting people out of work, either directly (laying off government
employees) or indirectly (buying fewer goods and services from the
private sector, so businesses lose income, and lay off employees). It's
the worst policy at a time of high unemployment, so every time a
Republican talks of cutting spending, a Democrat should be responding
that Republicans want to put more people out of work in a time of
already high unemployment. (Coupled with an observation that cutting
spending may be appropriate when unemployment is back to normal, so laid
off people have a good chance of finding another job - which right now
It's dispiriting to see how hapless the Democrats are at simple
messaging. Sometimes I think they deserve to lose - but the country
doesn't deserve another neocon administration that might actually put Paul Ryan's budget plans into practice.