The Brilliant GOP Messaging Behind the Debt Ceiling Debacle

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

This post has been updated from it’s previous version.

During the two weeks of counting down the debt ceiling vote deadline, I couldn’t figure out how the GOP had managed to convince so many Americans the debt ceiling should not be raised. Voting to increase the debt ceiling had usually been a routine endeavor under every previous President, Republican and Democrat alike. A rubber stamp… business as usual. Reagan and the Bushes (sounds like a failed Mo-town group) raised the debt ceiling dozens of times, and no one batted an eye. Actually paying for Bush’s costly wars required Obama to ask for a raise on the country’s line of credit. Suddenly, tea-party bloggers and protesters were successfully waging war against President Obama for even thinking of raising it again.

We all know the Republican ruse of sudden fiscal responsibility is a way to gut Social Security, Medicare, and other social safety net programs for our most fragile citizens. As much as I disagree with conservative philosophy, I am in awe of their effective strategizing. From a political strategy point of view, how on Earth did they frame this debate? A dialogue on my facebook page provided the answer.

Dave Ramsey.

For those politicos who are not familiar with Dave Ramsey, you should be. He is the conservative Christian financial guru who speaks in large mega-churches all over the country. He gives huge training sessions, lectures and workshops on fixing one’s family budget using financial advice found in the Bible. He does frequent appearances on television, and has his own radio show. He sells  tapes, books, and workshops to parishioners, and suggests people give money to their church.

People who follow Dave Ramsey are sometimes in very deep debt — they can’t pay their bills, they can’t feed their kids, and they don’t have a penny saved for their kid’s college, or their own retirement. Some, like my friend John, are doing great financially, and credit Ramsey for their success. Ramsey tells them (paraphrasing), “Give at least ten percent of your income, and G-d will reward you with future prosperity”.

I have heard of people whose financial lives have been saved using Dave Ramsey’s “seven steps” program, while others have justified not saving for their kid’s college, or buying health or life insurance, or helping out invalid relatives, until they have completed other “steps” first. Mega-churches love this guy — he brings in tons of money for them. When parishioners improve their financial success, they tell their friends, churches get more donations, Ramsey sells more products, and everyone wins.

In this clip, Ramsey references Adam Smith as the “Father of Economics”­, calls FDR a socialist, pits government as the opposite of G-d, and essentiall­y says people who believe the government should help fragile citizens are going against G-d. He tells people to go to church rather than watch news on television — to “throw a brick through the television­”. He tells them those who read the Bible have “earned a master’s degree in finance”. It is hard to deny Ramsey’s influence on Tea Party economic views.

One of my facebook friends, a conservative philanthropist in the south, explained the tea party argument about the debt ceiling using the metaphor of a family home, while quoting Dave Ramsey:

“If the US Government was a family, they would be making $58,000 a year, they would spend $75,000 a year, and are $327,000 in credit card debt. They are currently proposing BIG spending cuts to reduce their spending to $72,000 a year. These are the actual proportions of the federal budget and debt, reduced to a level that we can understand. – Dave Ramsey”

My friend continues, sharing what he learned from Dave Ramsey:

The Bible warns about being in debt. It says that the borrower is slave to the holder of the debt… We are in debt to China… We need to live within our means.

Several of my progressive Facebook friends had a field day with this. Although I normally think it is bad form to cut and paste from one electronic medium to another, I think their responses are also worth sharing.

Kevin wrote, “John. That is an apples to oranges comparison. Does your family spend 20% of it’s revenues on defense? You also seem to be under the impression that China owns most of our debt. They don’t. Americans are the largest holder of U.S. debt.”

Joe wrote:

If the US Government was a family, it’d be a working Mom trying to take care of millions of kids and pets while paying all the bills and doing the cleaning and house maintenance. Meanwhile the abusive Dad racks up credit card debt on high tech toys and presents for his rich friends, while refusing to help pay ANY of the debt even though he makes money too. Oh, and he is always yelling at the neighbors and sometimes beating them up. The question is, which parent should we kids call the cops on?

James wrote, “We are taking in much less than we should because the abusive dad started a couple of costly wars and then went to the boss and demanded a cut in pay. Who would do that?”

Kevin, Joe and James have been drawn into the argument using John’s framework. Although they are armed with a more sophisticated and accurate view of our financial economic reality (facts), they’re response is not quite as neat and tidy. Busy Americans love neat and tidy; it’s much easier than actually reading the newspaper or watching real (non-Fox) news on television. Add to that the fundamentalist teaching that is (mis)interpreted to make all secular (non-Christian) sources of news suspicious, and you have people thirsty for every drop of information Ramsey can give them:

Psalm 101:3 states, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me” (King James Version).

It is difficult to work within someone else’s “frame.” John has effectively framed the argument — a great example of what the GOP has done for decades, leaving those of us on the left sitting in awe, rubbing our bruised backsides and asking, “How did they do this to us again?”

Followers will tell you Dave Ramsey is apolitical, and that he has followers who are not Republican. His “Seven Baby Steps to Financial Security” does not list giving to one’s church, but people I know who have attended his workshops (at church) have told me that it’s always in there. Ramsey’s marketing strategy of using mega-churches to disseminate his philosophy and to attract future followers ensures that the vast majority of them are members of the GOP.

Underneath this example is a point I’ve been making for years: Democrats are ineffective at messaging, relatively speaking. The GOP is brilliant at it. By reducing their political goals to a metaphor every American can identify with, and by disseminating that message through a faithful follower who has large, already-organized captive audiences (mega-churches), they have effectively seized the message, the media and the money. Brilliant.

And what do people on the left do? We use charts, graphs, statistics and sarcasm and quote scholarly experts who write in The New York Times. We try to impress people with our verbosity and our vocabulary. No wonder people would rather hurt themselves with forks than go to a Democratic public policy meeting or town hall. Where is folksy home-boy Bill Clinton when we need a translater?

Don’t even get me started about the negative connotations Fox News has associated effectively with the word “entitlements.” That’s a whole ‘nother blog diary.

About nancycronk

Nancy Cronk is a longtime community activist and women's leader living in Arapahoe County. Six months before the historic "red sweep" election of 2014, she was recruited to run as a "placeholder" in HD37, and managed to bring in 40K from 500 small donors, and 42% of the vote -- just one point lower than the previous candidate who ran in a presidential year.

122 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

      • nancycronk says:

        He has had a regular appearance on Fox, I’m told.

          • dwyer says:

            People call in and he “hears their confession” and then he gives them penance…and evidently months later they call back and thank him for “saving them.”

            i think the advice he gives to help people get out of debt is sound.  But, I find the routine embarrassing.  So why do I listen?  I really don’t…KlZ is at the end of the radio dial and if I am scanning late at night, I sometimes hit that station.

            • nancycronk says:

              Not a country! As tempting as it is to make the system work for a much bigger system, it doesn’t. There are far too many other factors and considerations for it to be simple.  

              • dwyer says:

                But to make a point, that perhaps I have made once or twice before, when the republicans control the public airwaves, they can control public opinion because there is no way for the dems to counter their arguments using the same medium to address the same audience.

                I understand the role of government to spend during economic downturns.  But that is not because the dems or the administration have explained it, it is because fifty years ago I took Econ 101.

                • nancycronk says:

                  Dems missed an opportunity here. Now that we have been caught within their framework, we should have turned it on it’s ear. To not raise the debt ceiling would have meant defaulting on our loans. The President’s message should have been just as clear, just as simple, just as moralistic (read patriotic). “America pays her debts. Our word is good.

                  • dwyer says:

                    The President, in effect, did say that.  However,  there were thousands of hours of talk show hosts saying that the President was a socialist, that he couldn’t be trusted, that the tea party should stand firm, that the government cannot create jobs..etc. etc.

                    The dems could NOT counter because they do not have access to the public airwaves and they do not try to GAIN access to counter the lies.  That is my only point.

                    It is the medium that is the message.

                    • nancycronk says:

                      I think the President did a good job in the whole fiasco, and you’re right, if we didn’t hear it, it probably had more to do with the media and less with the message. We see that locally all the time.  

                    • nancycronk says:

                      But the media doesn’t own 100% of the message. Social media and blogs are at least as important in creating, affecting, and being effected by the message. It’s not just the President I am talking about when I am critical of Dem’s messaging, it’s all of us. How many times have you seen brilliant Democratic candidates bore people to death with their intellectual campaign speeches (remember Al Gore and John Kerry, anyone?), when their Republican opponent just had to sit on a porch swing in a flannel shirt and say, “Gawsh, I love America”? I’m not saying we should stoop to their level of discourse (none) but we can learn how to market our Democratic values in a way that doesn’t make people want to hurt themselves just to get out of the room.

                      We are the party of the people, for the people, by the people. We are the party that cares about people of all races, all cultures, all religions, all genders, all socioeconomic groups. We are the party that looks out for Grandmothers and new babies, and kids with disabilities. We are the party that believes in preventing problems… not ignoring them. We are the party of peace and diplomacy first. We are the party of responsible business and creative entrepreneurship. We have everything to be proud of! Why the Hell aren’t we out there saying so in nine words or less… at church, and baseball games, and bowling allies, and girl scout meetings… (etc.)?

                    • sxp151 says:

                      it would be illegal. I’ve helped organize several marches that attracted tens of thousands of people, but they only really seem to matter if they consist of a dozen old men complaining about government interference in their Social Security.

                      Plus where the fuck are you going to march to in Boulder, the Mountain Sun?  

                    • Julibel says:

                      I think the mistake many on the left make, is, magical thinking – get the facts out there, it will cure the right wing, or counter the right wing. It will not.  Clearly the right has mastered the political media strategy.  And there is a reason for this:  they are en-culturated to hate the liberal.  THUS, the left could plaster the facts or corrections on people’s foreheads, the right wing will design, develop, invent, lie, layer additional delusions in order to counter it.  The media target for the left, needs to be the left, not the right wing. The left is the group who went AWOL in 2010 allowing the Tea Party takeover.  And it will happen again in 2012, IF they are suckered by the right wing media.  

                      I know this for sure,  the right is easily intimidated by groups larger than their echo bubble parallel reality.  It also provides support for the Democrats in office who are now fighting organized terror.  Don’t try to ‘educate’  anyone,  just show the support for those who should be able to do their jobs, Obama, and the Democrats and Republicans in Congress.  

  1. PERA hopeful says:

    Yeah, he’s a Christian and he quotes the Bible from time to time.  However, most of the stuff he said was just common sense: Save up an emergency fund, get out of debt, save for your kids’ college, save for your retirement, pay off your house, invest, and give to your church or charity. And when he talked about getting out of debt, he definitely said that you may need to increase revenue to do that.

    He is very much opposed to individuals and families being in debt.  He did say that the debtor is slave to the creditor, which is absolutely true (or so it seemed in my wicked, miserable past when I was hiding from collectors).  

    As far as giving to the church, he did talk about it … in the 13th of 13 classes.  I’m sure an awful lot of people who admire Dave Ramsey are evangelical Christians who also have very conservative political views, but there are also an awful lot of lefties who can use practical financial advice and appreciate the lessons they’ve learned from Dave Ramsey.

    • nancycronk says:

      I agree his advice for individuals and families is great. It is the advice he gives beyond the family economic system (within churches all over the country) on political-economic national issues, that has fueled the Tea Party.

      Here is a clip so you can see for yourself. Ramsey quotes Adam Smith, calls FDR a socialist, says government is the opposite of G-d, and people who believe the government should help fragile citizens are going against G-d. He tells people to go to church rather than watch the news on television, to “throw a brick through their television”. He says “If you read the Bible, you’ve earned a master’s degree in finance”. No one can watch this and deny Dave Ramsey is not hugely influential in Tea Party economic views. http://www.thegreatrecovery.co

      It’s true, I have some personal issues with some of what Ramsey says, too. He also says, “I’ve traveled the world and I’ve never seen a Jewish slum”. He then goes on to stereotype Jews. I guess he means it as a compliment, but as someone who knows a little Jewish history, this stereotype is not only untrue, it leads to bigotry. (He also talks about how capitalism saves marriage an institution. A little exaggerated, don’t you think?)

      He says all this and then says, “but I’m not political”. ROFL — it’s all political.  

  2. GalapagoLarry says:

    I may be wrong, but I think you’ve missed NC’s “message”.

    It’s not whether this guy’s advice is good or not. Or whether one person’s perspective is “right” or not. Or whether the churches profit from his alliance or not. Or even whether he or you are churchgoing Christians. It’s about his and the GOP’s success in framing their issues, trapping others into engaging on their terms.

    For instance, someone says, “If the US Ggovernment was (sic) a family…” they’ve set up the boundaries in which they expect you to think and respond. Do you accept that framework, or do you say, “But the US government isn’t a family. The US can print its own money; a family can’t. The US can occupy and dominate an oil (vital resource) producing country; a family can’t successfuly take over Safeway. The US government is made up of many (often obstructionist) factions; a family usually yields with little political pressure to a (usually breadwinning) “head” of household. Do you enter an argument or negotiation using the opponent’s framework (The US government is a family), or do you insist on a more reality based set of ground rules (The US government is not a family) before you agree to wrestle.  

    How about “Psalm 101:3…” says such and such? Whoa, Nellie. Pause right there. We’re going to discuss federal and familial budgets and debt within the limits of one quote for one religion of one small part of the planet’s believers of one book whose transliteration was ordered by one foppish ruler of one kingdom out of all that existed at that long gone one point in history? Well, if we wish. But we must be aware that that’s only one framing–this guy’s. Is that the set of rules by which we wish to engage?

    Nancycronk has brought up what I think is the–the–weakest ability of Democrats and the only–only–strength of Republicans. Democrats stoop to contest on Republicans’ terms; Republicans lure Democrats into accepting their rules of engagement.

    The most recent example of this is the so-called debt crisis. There was and is no debt crisis. Yes, the US debt is large, but it can be dealt with over time. Over time. There is no immediate crisis. But the Republicans framed the discussion as a crisis and Obama and our representatives fell for it.

    Solutions? From the bottom up: NC and other good posters keep thrusting salient points in front of our brains. We all keep thinking and saying, Wait just a minute there, Mr. Glib Talkingpoints: Your premise is crap. If we’re going to discuss this, we’ll do so on my terms, not yours. And Messrs. Obama, Bennet and Udall: Wise up.  

    • nancycronk says:

      You said that better than I could. Thank you.

    • The realist says:

      I’m not very hopeful at this point.  

      If you haven’t yet read Drew Westen’s Op-Ed in the New York Times, do so.  

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08

      Westen is a professor of psychology who has done much work in messaging and politics.  His column very thoroughly describes the President’s personality traits that, added in with the Dems’ predictable failures in messaging and framing, have brought us to where we are.  

  3. Mark G. says:

    You Godless commies could care less about Dave Ramsey, why are you talking about him.

  4. Mark G. says:

     Here is what Dave Ramsey really said about the debt debacle.

    http://www.daveramsey.com/arti

    The debt ceiling debate in Washington D.C. is just the kind of doomsday scenario the media loves. The story goes like this: Congress must raise the nation’s debt ceiling or the U.S. will, for the first time ever, default on its debt payments, possibly causing a downgrade in the U.S. credit rating, a stock market crash and skyrocketing interest rates. “Financial experts” are lined up, waiting for their chance to warn us of the coming “debt-pocalypse.”

    There Will Be NO Default

    Even if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling, the U.S. is not going to default on its debt payments. That’s not a hope. Not positive thinking. It’s a mathematical fact. The U.S. government takes in $2.6 trillion a year and its debt payments are $400 billion. That’s like a household that brings in $260,000 having to make a $40,000 payment.

    And, without the default, there will be no downgrade in the U.S. credit rating. U.S. bonds will still be considered “safe” investments and interest rates will not shoot through the roof. The President and Congress know they must meet these obligations or face serious repercussions for the country. They aren’t stupid enough to bring about those consequences just to prove a political point.

    There Will Be Uncertainty

    The Stock Market doesn’t like uncertainty. That’s why it’s dropped slightly as the politicians play tug-of-war. But stupidity in Washington is a predictable variable in the marketplace.

    So there is no reason to cash out your investments or jump in and out of your 401(k). That’s called market timing, and it’s a one of the best ways to ruin the returns on your investments. You cash out to try to avoid the bad days. But study after study shows, you’ll also miss the best days-reducing the value of your investments by thousands of dollars.

    If you still have doubts about sticking with your investments, talk to an investing professional before you make any decisions. An experienced financial advisor will listen to your concerns and show you how market volatility can actually make you money in the long term.

    The Solution Will Not Come From Washington

    Our country is facing a bigger problem than the debt ceiling “crisis.” It is the idea that the government will solve our problems. The last few weeks are proof that politicians are incapable of solving anything.

    You must take control of your life and solve your own problems. Stop waiting for a government program to help you take care of your family. Get on a budget, get debt-free, save up an emergency fund, and build your own wealth for your future.

    Dave Ramsey

  5. Mark G. says:

    Government spending is out of control, isn’t it? It’s so bad that our federal government would have to cut spending by 27% to balance the budget. That’s insane!

    The fact is that government can get out of debt the same way you get out of debt. You quit borrowing money. You quit spending. You balance the budget. But to do all of that, you’ll have to make some sacrifices.

    When it comes to government, and when it comes to everyone wanting to get their piece of the pie, no one wants to make the sacrifices. So the spending continues, and our country keeps going deeper in debt.

    http://www.daveramsey.com/arti

    • Let’s go back to the equally faulty “run government as a business”, and look at what Republicans say about running within the government’s means – same message, right?

      Do you wonder why they stopped saying that?  Because a business can raise its prices, and can negotiate with its vendors.  Republicans don’t like that.  They don’t want us negotiating Medicare rates with Big Pharma.  They want to undercut competing companies and hope they go under (hint – they won’t), and are willing to take out huge loans on the company name to do so while largely ignoring the actual cost of goods.

      It comes down to this:  what do you want to cut?  Go on – tell the people of the country just what Republicans think is unnecessary, and just how far that will go to fixing our deficit problems.  Just say “cut Medicare by 20%: that will increase every senior citizen’s medical bills by $1200 per year”, or “cut transportation spending by $10 billion, which will cost us $30 billion over 10 years in delayed repairs”.  See?  It’s easy.

      Because, as you note, we can’t pay for everything we’re spending money on.  We’ve voluntarily cut back on our income – the lowest it’s been in 50 years.  It’s time to negotiate with our vendors, take some things back in-house that cost too much from outside vendors, find inefficiencies in our business – and yes, perhaps rework some product lines – and adjust our prices to reflect the costs of doing business.

    • Let’s go back to the equally faulty “run government as a business”, and look at what Republicans say about running within the government’s means – same message, right?

      Do you wonder why they stopped saying that?  Because a business can raise its prices, and can negotiate with its vendors.  Republicans don’t like that.  They don’t want us negotiating Medicare rates with Big Pharma.  They want to undercut competing companies and hope they go under (hint – they won’t), and are willing to take out huge loans on the company name to do so while largely ignoring the actual cost of goods.

      It comes down to this:  what do you want to cut?  Go on – tell the people of the country just what Republicans think is unnecessary, and just how far that will go to fixing our deficit problems.  Just say “cut Medicare by 20%: that will increase every senior citizen’s medical bills by $1200 per year”, or “cut transportation spending by $10 billion, which will cost us $30 billion over 10 years in delayed repairs”.  See?  It’s easy.

      Because, as you note, we can’t pay for everything we’re spending money on.  We’ve voluntarily cut back on our income – the lowest it’s been in 50 years.  It’s time to negotiate with our vendors, take some things back in-house that cost too much from outside vendors, find inefficiencies in our business – and yes, perhaps rework some product lines – and adjust our prices to reflect the costs of doing business.

  6. Mark G. says:

    By Dave Ramsey

    Whenever the talking heads on TV start talking about the national economy, most of our eyes start to glaze over. The gigantic numbers that they throw out there are ridiculous; most Americans have no idea what those numbers mean in practical terms. So, I thought it’d be fun to turn those figures into something we can understand a little better-like a household budget.

    The federal government will take in $2.173 trillion in 2011. That’s their income, and it sounds pretty good. Until, that is, you factor in that the federal government will spend $3.818 trillion during the year. So, just like many families, the government’s outgo exceeds their income-to the tune of $1.645 trillion in overspending. That’s called the deficit. Altogether, the government has $14.2 trillion in debt.

    What would happen if John Q. Public and his wife called my show with these kinds of numbers? Here’s how their financial situation would stack up:

    If their household income was $55,000 per year, they’d actually be spending $96,500-$41,500 more than they made! That means they’re spending 175% of their annual income! So, in 2011 they’d add $41,500 of debt to their current credit card debt of $366,000!

    What’s the first step to get out of debt? Stop overspending! But that means a family that is used to spending $96,500 a year has to learn how to live on $55,000. That’s a tough pill to swallow. Those kinds of spending cuts seriously hurt, but it’s the only way out of debt for John Q. Public.

    If I ever got a call from a family that was spending $41,500 more than they made every year, you would definitely expect me to yell at them for their dumb behavior, right? Kids, no more McDonald’s four times a week. Snacks come from the grocery store now. And we’re not going to the movies for a while, so break out the board games and TV Guide. This family has a problem, so it’s time to amputate the lifestyle!

    It works the same way for the government. You can’t borrow your way out of debt, whether you’re a typical American family or the entire U.S. government. At some point, you’ve got to say, “Enough is enough!” and make the hard cuts necessary to win over the long haul

    http://www.daveramsey.com/arti

    • nancycronk says:

      Great Research. I had not seen these posts yet from him. Your point is well-taken (although you should know blog rules require that we are supposed to link rather than cut and paste to large amounts of copyrighted materials — you probably didn’t know that).

      That said, calling us “Godless Commie Heathens” doesn’t exactly make me want to have a rational conversation with you. But I will try, anyway.

      I wonder how many of the millions (tens of millions?) of people who have attended Ramsey’s workshops or listen to his radio show or have read his books, happened to have gone on his website last week to see that article. I hope many. I suspect not many. What people I know have told me (followers of his) is (paraphrasing), “All debt is a very bad thing. We should rip up our credit cards. The government has mountains of debt. The government needs to go on a debt diet, fast.”

      I’m curious what Dave Ramsey would say about the trillions of dollars we spend on wars, preparing for wars, and post-wars “stability”. In the analogy of a household budget, how does that factor in?  

      • nancycronk says:

        Is how Dems like me get sucked into the framework of the opposition (see Larry’s post, above).

        • Mark G. says:

          Why do YOU stand behind debt ceiling increase? You are the one who got sucked into the Demoncrats message.

          Think about it. Here is the message.

          Perpetually escalating debt is salvation.

          Perpetually escalating government spending is salvation.

          Government is the new God.

          BTW, Nixon, Regan, Bush, Bush2 were all spendaholics who worshipped at the alter of bigger government.

          • dmindgo says:

            I’m not familiar with Obama saying “perpetually escalating debt is salvation.”  Can you help me out?

          • Well, let’s see…

            • No credit rating downgrade (S&P said Obama’s big compromise would have prevented that.)
            • Congress already authorized the spending in the budget, and increasing the debt ceiling was a logical (aka expected) follow-on to that action.
            • Because there was no guarantee that the Federal computer systems could organize payments to prevent an actual default on US debt (which is Constitutionally forbidden).
            • Because actions have consequences, and the immediate effect of not raising the debt ceiling would have been to plunge millions of people into poverty, causing a ripple effect that would have driven the world into a full-on global depression.

            Now here’s a message for you: you get what you pay for.  If you want a steaming pile of bullcrap, that comes cheap.  If you want the best security, roads, and standard of living in the world – well, that costs a bit.

            • nancycronk says:

              Your last paragraph sounds just like something FDR said:

              • Mark G. says:

                Karl Marx called it the great contradiction. He knew peopel always want something for free. I know both Republicans and Democrats who think the tooth fairy pays for all of this government.

                My solution? Stop asking the gov for anything.

                • Aristotle says:

                  We don’t need no stinkin’ government. Who needs police, the military, roads and sewers, or courts?

                  You want anarchy, Mark. Since this is America, it’s your right, but since this is America, you have to put up with the system that the vast majority of Americans, even teabaggers, prefer – one where there is a “gov” from which we ask things.

      • Mark G. says:

        Nanny,

        Please use quotations and link to prove your original Ramsey quote, I have yet to find it.

        To answer your question, if the gov balances the budget it will trim back the war machne in the process.  

        • nancycronk says:

          My name is Nancy, not Nanny. I won’t have time to banter all day about Dave Ramsey, but to answer your question, if you google the first few words of that quote with the name Dave Ramsey (“If the US government was a family” + “dave ramsey”), you get 9,890,000 references to it. One of the first few links says, “said on his talk show”. Try it.

          I stick to my larger point. Ramsey is a conservative icon with an enormous following and tons of influence among Christians, particularly in the south. He affects public policy through his simplistic teachings, whether he intends to or not. This is an example of effective GOP messaging.

          Dems can learn a lot from the GOP about how to get our messages out to the public. Dems need to dump the elitist, academic, egg-head style of public communication and speak in terms the average person can readily find, understand, and relate to easily. We also need to get our soapboxes out of the libraries and into more churches and diners, bringing the message to the people where they are — like the GOP does — rather than expecting them to come to us via the New York Times. (My words, not Ramsey’s).

          • GalapagoLarry says:

            Dems need to dump the elitist, academic, egg-head style of public communication and speak in terms the average person can readily find, understand, and relate to easily. We also need to get our soapboxes out of the libraries and into more churches and diners, bringing the message to the people where they are — like the GOP does — rather than expecting them to come to us via the New York Times.

            Thanks.

          • Mark G. says:

            I Googled the terms you instructed and I still did not come up with what you originally attributed to Dave Ramsey.

            By Dave Ramsey

            Whenever the talking heads on TV start talking about the national economy, most of our eyes start to glaze over. The gigantic numbers that they throw out there are ridiculous; most Americans have no idea what those numbers mean in practical terms. So, I thought it’d be fun to turn those figures into something we can understand a little better-like a household budget.

            The federal government will take in $2.173 trillion in 2011. That’s their income, and it sounds pretty good. Until, that is, you factor in that the federal government will spend $3.818 trillion during the year. So, just like many families, the government’s outgo exceeds their income-to the tune of $1.645 trillion in overspending. That’s called the deficit. Altogether, the government has $14.2 trillion in debt.

            What would happen if John Q. Public and his wife called my show with these kinds of numbers? Here’s how their financial situation would stack up:

            If their household income was $55,000 per year, they’d actually be spending $96,500-$41,500 more than they made! That means they’re spending 175% of their annual income! So, in 2011 they’d add $41,500 of debt to their current credit card debt of $366,000!

            What’s the first step to get out of debt? Stop overspending! But that means a family that is used to spending $96,500 a year has to learn how to live on $55,000. That’s a tough pill to swallow. Those kinds of spending cuts seriously hurt, but it’s the only way out of debt for John Q. Public.

            If I ever got a call from a family that was spending $41,500 more than they made every year, you would definitely expect me to yell at them for their dumb behavior, right? Kids, no more McDonald’s four times a week. Snacks come from the grocery store now. And we’re not going to the movies for a while, so break out the board games and TV Guide. This family has a problem, so it’s time to amputate the lifestyle!

            It works the same way for the government. You can’t borrow your way out of debt, whether you’re a typical American family or the entire U.S. government. At some point, you’ve got to say, “Enough is enough!” and make the hard cuts necessary to win over the long haul.

            PDF – Printable Version

            http://www.daveramsey.com/arti

          • GalapagoLarry says:

            “Uncle!”

            This guy’s never going to get your point and my screen is running out of pixels from all the Ramsey debt crap he keeps throwing back up.

            Anybody out there got any extra pixels?

    • dmindgo says:

      Take those same numbers from the gov but a different level of income.  Say the household manages currently on minimum wage at 60 hours a week = $22,963.  For simplicity, I’m rounding it down to $22.5k, half of Ramsey’s example.  So this family has a longterm debt of $183,000 on a mortgage.  They saw their income from three years ago go down but they’ve added a new family member and another one is on the way.

      This family has one option: cut the budget down to what you are currently spending, even though your expenses will go up as more people become part of the family.  The other option:  attend school, improve your trade or profession (go into health care), and increase your income.  At the same time, cut as much as you can because even if you make more, you will probably still be short at your current expenses.

  7. Mark G. says:

    Let me make one thing clear. Dave Ramsey is not a political expert. His first and fatal mistake is comparing a household budget to a government budget. Homeowners work for their budget, government uses the guns of government for their revenue. Also gov budgets are never static. Daves number comparisons only work for a split second as Fed spending has already increased by 2T since Dave made his comparison.

    Dave is great at getting people to stop collectivizing their wants and desires, nobody can argue with this.

    • Mark G. says:

      “Politicians often try to empathize with struggling Americans by promising to cut government spending, “just like regular households in tough times.” This simile evokes different reactions depending on one’s economic views. Keynesians think it’s reckless, proponents of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) think it’s absurd, and Rothbardians think it’s correct as far as it goes, but it falsely equates tax revenues to an honest living.”

      http://mises.org/daily/5304/Ca

    • nancycronk says:

      Perhaps you missed the part where I praised him for what he does. I think the guy is a marketing genius, and the product he peddles is great, too. He saved the financial life of someone very near and dear to me, and for that, I am grateful. Even when Ramsey himself says his teachings shouldn’t be applied to national economic policy, many of his believers still think it should. I’m glad to hear he is trying to set them straight.

      • Mark G. says:

        Yes Dave has done well for himself with his marketing ability. How do you make the leap between Dave and the GOP? Dave does this for himself. Dave is not in bed with GOP. He criticizes them often and Dave does not approve of most of what they do.

        I think your entire premise i s flawed.

        The GOP is in bed with Dems as they both have a spending addiction and Debtless Dave Ramsey is the enemy.

        • nancycronk says:

          Or he may be in bed with the GOP. I have no idea, and I don’t think it matters which is true. The point is, he is enormously popular (mostly with devout Christians, which last time I checked tend to vote Republican) and he goes around saying that America needs to get out of debt stat. Tens of millions of people have been influenced by his philosophy. The time was ripe for the GOP to use that particular spin, and it worked. Rove couldn’t have done a better job spinning.

          I would agree with you both parties have a spending addiction, to the extent that each passively rubber stamps the military-industrial complex. I do not agree the social safety net is part of the problem, at all. Dems are far more likely to fight for the social safety net, and Republicans for the out-of-control military-industrial complex.

          • Mark G. says:

            Dave is not a party guy.

            The GOP could never follow Daves zero debt plan. Reagone was a big debt guy. It has not stopped since.

            I think you are confusing the recent fiscal conservative sliver of the tiny tea party with the standard GOP. As you  can tell, the old guard GOP won out with the Boner bill. The Boner bill keeps status quo and goes so far as to enshrine perpetually escalating deficits and debts for the next 10 years. The very second Boner signed the bill, Obama spent an additional 2.4T.

            Stop confusing Dave Ramsey, a man who Fears the Lord as much as he loves the Lord, with politicians who chronically worship at the altar of power…

            • nancycronk says:

              I am sorry I offended you with linking Dave Ramsey with the GOP. I suspect you have great respect for him and his work. I do too.  I’ve called his simplistic steps  and his marketing “brilliant” and “genius”.  You cannot deny that he has successfully influenced public policy by telling his millions of fans that the government should go on a debt diet. They listened, and they insisted on it, despite not understanding the reasons why we have debt as a nation, and how we manage debt. My accusation is not of Ramsey so much as the GOP using Ramsey’s movement (and yes, I think it is a movement) to rationalize their trying to gut the social safety net. Does that make sense?  

  8. Mark G. says:

    Maybe Dave Ramsey  and God swayed the Republicans and Dems temporarily but in the end, John Boner and his Boner Bill won out. Boner enslaved us for another 25 years.

  9. WitnessProtectionForGeeks says:
  10. bjwilson83 says:

    It was pretty easy: Obama did all the work for us. He blew four times as much money as Bush ever spent (which he was only forced to do because of 9/11 – recall that the now amnesia-riddled Democrats were for the war at that point) and promised it would fix the economy. It didn’t. Obama took a match to our money and lit it on fire. All we did was to scream “STOP BURNING OUR MONEY!”

    • MADCO says:

      “… four times as much money as Bush ever spen…”

      Presume you are exaggerating.

      Or adding up the budgets of 2009 (a Bush budget), 2010, and 2011 and comparing those to the budgets from 2001-2008.  Which is not  a good comparison – 2001 was the last Clinton budget  and the last Bush budget was 2009.  But still doesn’t come close to Bush spending 1/4th as  Obama.

      Meanwhile, Obama got to continue spending on the war in Iraq to find those WMD, or to cut the Iraqi relationship to Al Queda. Or something.

      No one has amnesia – most Americans supported military action after 9/11. And most of os followed the lead of the COmmander in Chief, Secretaries of State and Defense when they told us we had to go after Iraq.

      Bernanke and Geithner have done a good job , so far. If anything they haven’t gone far enough, just like the stimulus and the health care reform.  But I’d remind you that Alan Greenspan was the one who acknowledge he was wrong. That his Randian-free market mantra was an error.

      • pay your taxes! says:

        It happened. I seen it. Obamer done spent all da monies.

      • bjwilson83 says:

        Now it is $1.6 trillion. Do the math, genius.

        • bjwilson83 says:

          And I should add that it was $400 billion because of the Barney Frank – Chris Dodd – Community Reinvestment Act – Fannie Mae – Freddie Mac – affordable housing recession. (Well, they’re calling it the Tea Party downgrade. They might want to think twice about where that sort of thinking leads.) The previous year under Bush we had a significantly smaller deficit at $240 billion. And full employment!!

        • MADCO says:

          Sure, 1600 billion is 4 x as much as 400 bilion.

          But, 1.2 trillion is only 50% more than 800 billion.

          See – no source. math genius.

          • bjwilson83 says:

            It’s pretty easy to find how much the deficit was in any given year. I’m not going to provide sources documenting that the sky is blue, etc.

            • Aristotle says:

              They were asking you to back up your assertions. If you can’t do that, you lose.

              • bjwilson83 says:

                No, it’s the person asking me to prove that 2+2=4 that loses – it reflects on their intelligence.

                • Aristotle says:

                  The federal budget is that easy to parse? I don’t think so.

                  • bjwilson83 says:

                    1) Use the clicker thing, called a “mouse”, to open an internet brower (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.).

                    2) Type http://www.google.com into the search bar. Not http://www.thegoogle.com.

                    3) Type in “deficit [year]”. You can probably just click “I’m feeling lucky”.

                    • Aristotle says:

                      I’d like to see you in court sometime. “Judge, it’s right there on the interwebz! I don’t have to bring you nuthin'”

                      Or before the doctoral committee, saying something similar.

                      NOBODY has to take your word for it, or do your research for you. You have a long record of factual error at Pols, so you don’t get the benefit of the doubt.

                    • bjwilson83 says:

                      In case you haven’t noticed though, this is a blog, not a courtroom. The internet (TM Al Gore), is rather more important to a blogger than a judge.

                    • Aristotle says:

                      Like the post you just made concurrent with this one.

                      Beej – whatever he says, the opposite is true.

                • MADCO says:

                  “…four times as much money as Bush ever spent…”

                  And then you claim the 400% of Bush spending is based ont he fact that the deficit is 4 times larger.

                  Assume you’re correct the deficit increased 4x.(you’re not- Bush left the Iraq and Afghan wars “off budget” so they didn’t show up int he budget deficit)  

                  The only way that could mean that spending increased 4x is if all spending was 100% deficit spending.  It’s not.  

                  You are a strange, strange person.

      • bjwilson83 says:

        6 of those years haven’t even happened yet. There was bipartisan agreement in responding to 9/11. Tax cuts are not costs because they make up for it in growth. TARP, though I disagree with it, is not a cost because it is a loan that is being paid back. Charging the stimulus to Bush is just an outright lie. “Health reform” a.k.a. Obamacare is incorrectly cited; it cost $1 trillion.

        Of course, it’s CBS after all so I don’t know why anyone would believe them in the first place.

        • Aristotle says:

          Um, what growth?

            • Aristotle says:

              since all those tax cuts took place? Or is this some fantasy of yours?

              • bjwilson83 says:

                It was doing just fine until the Barney Frank – Chris Dodd – Bill Clinton – Community Reinvestment Act – Affordable Housing – Fannie Mae – Freddie Mac Recession brought all of Bush’s hard work to a screeching halt.

                • sxp151 says:

                  until they passed the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977, and then Bill Clinton got elected in 1992, and then the recession happened and Bush lost the ability to work hard.

                  This is why I couldn’t keep being a Republican. Between beejay and ellbee and emmgee and Arapa gee ow pee, it just became impossible to outdo anyone this week.

                  • bjwilson83 says:

                    I knew we’d break you sooner or later.

                    Well folks, as it turned out we didn’t know how big this hole we were in was. The long term damage of the Clinton administration to our economy was worse than we knew. It’s like, Bush was trying to mop up the mess and the left was complaining “it’s a capitalist mop!” And then Obama came along and just spilled a truck load molasses on the floor.

                    • Aristotle says:

                      But who needs reality when you have the collective imagination of the hard right?

                    • bjwilson83 says:

                      Not the brightest bulb, are you? My point is that if Obama gets to blame Bush, why doesn’t Bush get to blame Clinton? It was, after all, his affordable housing push that eventually brought the system down, while Bush fought (unsuccessfully) to reign in Fannie and Freddie. And now, predictably, they have been downgraded.

                    • Aristotle says:

                      … because that’s not true at all. It was banking deregulation that did that.

                      Remember: I don’t tout my intelligence on this board. Being secure about that frees me from that need, as well as immunizes me from those who question it.

                    • bjwilson83 says:

                      because you respond to so many of my posts and it obfuscates the truth.

                      You speak as if the default state is “regulation” and the problem is “deregulation”. In reality, there should be no regulations at all except to enforce contracts and prosecute fraud.

                    • Aristotle says:

                      Because the market can just take care of itself, even though every time it’s left to its own devices (1890s, 1920s, 2000s), widespread financial ruin is the result.

                    • bjwilson83 says:

                      And as I recall, the 1920’s were a pretty prosperous time. If you’re referring to the 30’s, we would have been out of that in no time except for FDR’s big government program that extended the depression. Much like Obama is doing now.

                    • Aristotle says:

                      Math is hard, isn’t it beejster?

                      And, um, Glass-Stengal was repealed, the banks went nuts on the free market, and today’s economy is what you got. Really, if you just try to connect the dots for yourself, you’ll see the big picture.

                    • Aristotle says:

                      All these market and economy crashes were preceded by prosperity. Smart people will judge these free markets by their end result, not the good times that came first. Your approach is like judging heroin and meth by the fantastic highs they bring, while ignoring the physical and personal costs of using them.

                      Think, young grasshopper. Think.

                    • sxp151 says:

                      And now you’re predicting that Fannie and Freddie will get downgraded after the fact?

                      Are you from Tralfamadore? Time may not move linearly for you, but it does for the rest of us.

                    • Aristotle says:

                      to see how those who value dogma over evidence rationalize facts away.

                      Time for me to turn in. I look forward to reading beej’s additional absurdities in the morning.

                    • bjwilson83 says:

                      of a man without any argument left to stand on.

                    • bjwilson83 says:

                      Had a pretty good diary on it that everybody blew off. Bush was predicting problems as early as 2006. Dems said everything was fine. Comprende?

                    • Could it be that his administration pushed them into investing in subprime loans in the first place?

                      The two agencies were late entering the subprime and derivatives markets; by nature they were somewhat conservative that way for a long time.  If they’d stayed out, the banks would have been the only ones with egg on their faces.

                      You want to be angry at someone over the mortgage crisis, look at the banks.  They’re still milking the Federal government for every penny, fair or foul.  They’d almost rather foreclose on a home – they get FHA guarantee payments to cover that.

                    • bjwilson83 says:

                      It was the affordable housing people that were pushing people into subprime loans. The banks would never have lent to people with such questionable credit if they weren’t pressured by liberals in the government.

                    • Ralphie says:

                      if Obama gets to blame Bush, why doesn’t Bush get to blame Clinton?

                      Because Clinton left Bush with a surplus.

                    • Diogenesdemar says:

                      In this fool’s mind that surplus was leftovers from the prior Bush.  Grasping his lunacy is like trying to grab a handfull of air.

                • … when you can’t get your facts straight even after I put them in front of you.

                  If you want to fall back on talking points rather than discussing a solution to the country’s problems, I’d suggest heading back over to Redstate – though I understand Eric got a bit too rational in this crisis for the Tea Party.

                  • If you can’t figure out what I mean by facts, I’d suggest you look up Barney Frank’s actual involvement…  Hint – Republicans did it, Frank didn’t.

                  • bjwilson83 says:

                    I thought you had more than that.

                    • Aristotle says:

                      in the beej vs. PR debate, it was PR with a TKO. You’re a bit like the Black Knight, aren’t you?

                    • bjwilson83 says:

                      It was the Dark Knight.

                    • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

                      I believe that’s known as the modified English? It’s been a while.

                    • bjwilson83 says:

                      Uh… yes, I am on the right. I think that’s been pretty well established.

                    • Aristotle says:

                      The “Dark Knight”??? Oh man, do you have a moon-sized ego or what.

                      No, I mean the Black Knight. The inflated opinion of yourself revealed here goes even further to support the aptness of my comparison. LOL…

                    • BJ – I don’t have to convince many people on this board.  For better or worse, most of the people posting here these days are at least left-leaning if not out-and-out anarcho-socialist-communist-nazi-NAMBLA-muslims.

                      Believe it or not, I really do respond to you in hopes that one day your brain will actually be processing information instead of being fully engaged in spew mode.  Oh – and because it pains me to think that someone some day might come upon this blog and think that you had a rational point to make.

                      As Ari notes, the recession wouldn’t have happened if Glass-Steagall had still been in place.  It wouldn’t have happened if Bush hadn’t gutted the SEC.  And, as I note, Rep. Franks, despite being vocal about Fannie and Freddie, wasn’t in charge when issues arose – that would be Republicans who failed to act, which I’ve pointed out in the past.

                      If you had even a whit of a valid point, it would be more challenging to respond to you.  As it is, it’s simply and almost pointlessly exhausting.

                    • bjwilson83 says:

                      My brain process plenty of information; it just analyses it independently instead of filtering in through the left wing media/talking point universe. “More government” is not my answer to everything. “Free markets” are my answer, because competition makes everything better. The problem was not that there wasn’t enough regulation. It was government intervention in the housing market. And how many times do I have to point out that it was Bush who sought to reform Fannie and Freddie while Dems actively blocked reforms and said everything was fine? They (especially Frank) have egg on their faces now, and Bush was proven right. Perhaps you find it exhausting to respond to me because I have the facts on my side.

                    • There’s a whole section on the Freddie/Fannie debate, including the back and forth between (minority ranking member) Franks, Bush, and House Republicans.  As a minority member, Franks didn’t have the power to stop (or start) anything.  Republican discord killed one year of bills.  Bush’s veto threat killed a bipartisan effort to tighten up regulation in 2005.

                      I’d point you to a more authoritative source, but since that particular section is filled with good links, I’ll let them do the work.

                      You know what’s exhausting?  Listening to your ego spin delusions of reality around your head.

                    • bjwilson83 says:

                      I’m sure it has been spun by the left. As I have been reminded so many times here, if you’re the one making the statement then it is incumbent upon YOU to provide sources.

        • But I didn’t have the heart to show it to you.

          That 2009 deficit you attribute to Obama (despite being told already that it was a Bush-signed budget)….  Only $174b came from Obama approved spending, all stimulus money.

          As to the TARP funds: that’s the net loss, not the total package.

        • Obama is looking to cut spending and raise revenue to fix our budget mess.  Given the current Congress I wouldn’t expect to see 2011, 2012, or 2013 with larger expenditures.  And considering our only modern surpluses came under Bill Clinton, you might want to give those projections a bit more weight rather than falling back on thoughtless Tea Party derision.

          As to your other points (I addressed TARP already):

          * Bush did pass some stimulus spending prior to leaving office.

          * The health reform costs are actually overstated because the estimate runs only through 2017 when some provisions are still kicking in.  The CBO says the plan actually saves significant cash over a longer period; your trillion dollar (net) cost is misinformation at best.

  11. Mark G. says:

    Of course Dave and all church leaders will encourage a weekly donation, they depend upon it.

    There is problem. For most people, there is not enough money in a dollar to pay taxes, pay the bills and pay a tithe. You can only split a dollar so many ways.

    The tax has replaced the tithe.

  12. faux_american says:

    (1) The Republican Party has been very successful at capitalizing on voter anger.

    (2) The Democrats main problem is that they are unwilling or unable to make the case for more government involvement.

    As Frank Luntz, and any other communications expert–be it a professor or strategist–worth their salt knows, it’s not necessarily  what you say that matters. Rather it’s how you say it, and how people interpret your message.  

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