Monday, October 17, 2005

Vilsack borrowing from the Lakoff playbook?

As noted in blogs and news stories over this past weekend, Governor Vilsack published his editorial, Cuts That Heal, in the October 13, 2005 edition of the WSJ. It is currently available on his Heartland PAC website. The editorial reads, in part:

… the president and his party have turned the largest budget surpluses in our history into the largest deficits. … Despite the "deficits don't matter" psychology of today's GOP, this debt undermines our fragile economic strength …

With the cost of the Iraq war exploding, along with the unanticipated costs of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it's critical that we change course before it's too late. Here are ways to do that through spending cuts …

· Declare war on pork. …

· End Corporate Welfare. …

· Cut Oil and Gas Subsidies. …

· Trim Government Waste. …

All these savings are on the spending side of the budget, and even if you quibble … there's fat aplenty to go before considering cuts in the social safety net, scientific research or infrastructure investments. …

On the revenue side of the budget, we continue to believe the Bush tax cuts targeted to the wealthiest are economically nonsensical and fiscally and morally ruinous. If it were up to us, we'd cancel all the cuts other than those benefiting low-to-moderate-income citizens, restoring the top tax rates to those of the Clinton era …

All progressives and true conservatives should be able to agree on such an agenda. … we need to pull together and begin meeting our collective obligations -- now.

How do you begin commenting on this political jujitsu?

In this redacted form, it’s easy to see code words that are intended to indicate political moderation and a conservative approach to budget matters. What’s nuts is that Vilsack and the Iowa Democrats consistently ignore this sort of rhetoric in governing Iowa.

For example:

On pork -- Vilsack and the Senate Democrats came out last session with budget spending targets roughly $143 million over the House budget proposal. Expect more of the same in 2006. (From Iowa General Assembly documents)

On corporate welfare -- $10 million to the multi-billion dollar Wells Fargo Corporation out of Vilsack’s Grow Iowa Values Fund, which he went to the mat to make the IVF a permanently funded program to the tune of $50 million a year for the next ten years. (From Iowa General Assembly documents)

On oil and gas subsidies – Ethanol! And we’re going to spend session 06 talking about how much money we can throw at it.

And, on government waste -- Vilsack gladly signed collective bargaining agreements that pushed state employee salaries ever higher, so that, on average, a state employee makes roughly 40% more than the average Iowan employed in the private sector. (From Limited Government published by Public Interest Institute)

Vilsack practices absolutely none of what he is preaching. It is such an absurdly hypocritical bunch of sentences strung together for the single purpose of advancing the George Lakoff theory on political framing through language. It is not worth any substantive comment, but what does come to mind is Vilsack & friends' clever use of a Sun Tzu principle.

Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected. (From an on-line translation of Sun Tzu’s Art of War)

At least we know that Vilsack knows good political strategy.


Comments:
Well sighted and deconstructed. I only wanted to point out that ethanol is a farm subsidy and not an oil or gas subsidy... So Vilsack's technically not talking out of both sides of his mouth on that issue. Though he would be if he said he done anything to support ethanol.
 
Good point. As noted in other publications, The WSJ op-ed was written with a national audience in mind, and I simply wanted to ground it back to Iowa themes.
 
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