Suddenly, the election is once again about George Bush, taxes, and the economy. DÃ©jÃ vu? No, call it “It’s the Economy Stupid, Part II.” But as Democrats attempt to revisit the winning election playbook that brought Bill Clinton to office, they’re discovering that things are a little different this time around.
What’s a Democrat candidate to do? They can’t really oppose Bush on terrorism or eliminating Saddam Hussein. Their attempts to use scare tactics on Social Security reform have mostly failed. The Enron-style corporate corruption issue is mostly on hold, thanks to a sweeping new reform bill. And new polling shows that the economy and jobs are the top issues of concern to Americans. So, last week, the Democrat leaders launched a vigorous new attack on George Bush’s “handling of the economy.” Typical was Tom Daschle’s (D-SD) rip that “…there has not been such catastrophic mismanagement of America's economy since the presidency of Herbert Hoover."
Of course, markets are still down, growth is flat, and it’s not like Washington Republicans have been disciplined lately when it comes to the U.S. budget. But while there might be some fertile ground for political gains here, unlike in 1992, Democrats are discovering they’re in a box on the economy issue.
Democrats might attack the orgy of irresponsible new spending in Washington. Doing so would probably get support among independents (remember Ross Perot’s charts?) and work against Republicans on their base. But the Democrats are just as, if not more, responsible for Washington’s current spending binge as the GOP. More important, Dems are also disarmed on taxes; unlike his tax-raising dad, George W. Bush is cutting them.
In the absence of a coherent policy vision, the Democrats go to their old election stand-by: scaring senior citizens. Consider the
AP’s description of the new ads they’re running nationwide on the economy:
In one of the ads, a young husband is getting ready for work with his wife in the background.
She asks him: "So, first day of the new job, ready for the big adventure?" And he responds: "Ready as I'll ever be."
The narrator then talks about "$175 billion in savings gone, over 2 million jobs lost. Many seniors starting over, looking for work."
The ad…cuts to a senior citizen getting ready for work with his wife in the background. "So, first day of the new job, ready for the big adventure?" she asks him, and he shrugs and replies: "Ready as I'll ever be."