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How Democrats Can Take Back Congress

Excerpted selections from “Part I—The Basics”

A Wake-up Call:

Democrats can take back Congress, and it really isn’t all that hard to do. The question is whether they have the guts, the smarts and the discipline to pull it off.

Having the guts means learning the lesson of Howard Dean’s campaign: effectively using the internet means reaping more donations than even traditional corporate donors can provide. Having the smarts means targeting your issues to a demographic segment so powerful it trumps every other American political divide—even red state vs. blue state. This powerful demographic group is the entire American workforce. Finally, having the discipline means framing the debate in your own terms in a tight and easily understood media package, and speaking with one voice as a party.

The Republican Revolution’s Aftermath:

The aftermath of the Republican Revolution / Contract With America was that nobody really cared that most of the Contract didn’t make it into law. Gaining and holding on to majorities in Congress meant passing not just a short list of items, but the whole conservative agenda. It was a short-term gimmick to gain long-term power. It worked, and it is still working today. But that’s all history. The question is: Can the Democrats make it happen again?

Hire Some Advertising Professionals:

For too long, Democrats have given voters lofty ideals and overburdened the debate with long-winded technical language. OK, yes, that’s an intelligent way to govern the country, but the reason voters elect people in the first place is so they don’t have to pay attention to stuff like that. Again, think advertising: grab their attention quickly! The way to do this is to get the voters involved in the debate.

You have to get swing voters to think: “Wow, that’s a good idea. That would make my life easier. I’m voting for that.” Get them to vote for the idea more than for the candidate. If they believe that electing the candidate will result in accomplishing the idea, they’ll vote for it. And they’ll cross party lines to do so.


So what would happen if some well-targeted policies were offered to working Americans in all states? What if these changes improved their lives so much that they wouldn’t just grudgingly vote for whoever champions them, but enthusiastically donate to the cause as well? … What if these ideas were so free of any ideology that a devout churchgoer in the Deep South would just as readily support them as some pinko tree-hugging atheist from San Francisco?

The answer is the electoral map would change color overnight. No matter how the opposition would try to demonize these ideas as being anti-this or anti-that, the average guy or gal would weigh such rants against the common sense of: “this will make my life better.”

From Part II—The Specifics

1. Cut Social Security Taxes For 94% of Workers

This is one of the best ideas on this list, as it “saves Social Security” and forces Republicans to vote against a tax cut at the same time. Of all the choices to keep Social Security solvent, only one polls consistently high with the American public: remove the cap on earnings subject to Social Security (currently at $90,000). However, Democrats are terrified to get behind this idea because both the media and the Republicans would immediately (and inaccurately) accuse them of “raising taxes.”

So defuse this criticism by proposing the following: completely remove the cap on earnings but reduce the tax rate for everyone to 6.0% from the current 6.2%. Since workers now pay 6.2% and businesses match it with an additional 6.2%, this would be a tax cut for average taxpayers and businesses big and small (except for the CEO’s salary, of course).


•   Gives 94% of workers a tax cut.
•   Gives businesses a tax cut on most of their employees.
•   Guarantees Social Security’s solvency for generations.
•   Every American worker pays their fair share instead of the current system of letting Bill Gates pay the smallest tax rate of anybody.
•   Paints Republicans into a corner by forcing them to vote against a tax cut.
•   Retirement age would not have to be raised. Benefits would not have to be changed.
•   Polls at: two-thirds general public in favor, 75% of middle class in favor, and even 60% of high-income earners in favor.


•   It’s really hard to find anything bad about this plan. Most American workers aren’t going to buy “it’s raising taxes” when their own taxes get cut as a result. Since the average worker isn’t even aware of the cap in the first place, making everyone pay the same percent is going to sound pretty fair to them.
•   Republicans that have always called for a “flat tax” would be hard-pressed to oppose it, since it truly makes Social Security a flat tax: 6.0% for all.
•   Of course, it doesn’t create private Social Security accounts, so that’s about the only thing the opposition can use. Since there isn’t much support for these accounts anyway, it won’t be that damaging.


“This plan cuts payroll taxes both for businesses and for 94% of American workers. The remaining 6% of workers would just be paying their fair share: the same percentage that everyone else pays. How can Republicans be against a tax cut for 94% of Americans?”

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