Fail on the messaging front, that is.
As we approach the "fiscal cliff", Republicans continue to stay on message: raising taxes on the wealthy will hurt growth, reducing taxes will spur growth they tell ua.
Of course, there is no evidence for this talking point: it is more akin to a religious belief than a statement of fact based on real world experience. Yet we hear it over and over again whenever Republicans are interviewed by our news media - and I fear that a falsehood repeated often enough begins to feel like a fact to people who keep hearing it.
And the Democrats' reply? Silence. There's an old saying, "Qui tacet consentire videtur" - he who is silent is seen to consent.
By not vigorously countering the false narrative on taxes, the Democrats appear to agree with it.
What Democrats' should do: on every accasion thay can, point out that the claim that high taxes on the wealthy stifles growth is completely bogus. Look at the top marginal rate in the Eisenhower years - 91% Yet the economy grew very nicely, thank you, and the deficit was well under control with an adequate revenue stream.
By constant referring to the 91% rate not stifling growth, the Democrats could inject a new realism into the debate over taxes. And they don't have to insist on the 91% top rate: they can generously compromise on a top marginal rate of 70% .
Update The same point made at The National Memo:
Since 1944, the United States has only raised taxes on the rich twice—in 1992 and 1994. What followed those tax increases was one of the greatest economic booms in American history.
Further update 11/29/12 TPM is quoting a GOP spokesman:
The GOP needs to claim victories on taxes as they come – not by passing the Schumer tax increase, but by calling out the massive Democratic cave and admonition that lower rates are beneficial. Republicans should highlight that, it's a ideological inconsistency for Democrats on the tax issue, and we need to get back on offense rhetorically.I'm assuming that the "admonition" there is a misprint for "admission."
As I said: Qui tacet consentire videtur.
The correct response is that tax cuts for lower/middle earners are beneficial in a reduced economy, while tax cuts on higher "earners" are never beneficial.
What's so hard about that?
(BTW - the extension of the Bush tax cuts for lower income people should be temporary - until the economy revives - not permanent, as the Democrats are proposing.)
Update Jan 10, 2012. Very disheartening that the Bush tax cuts (except for a tiny proportion) have been made permanent. A big win for the GOP and loss for the country.