Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Jeff Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee engaged in a tag team effort to “frame” President Obama for the their party’s failed budget and tax policies, as well as attempt to use framing to convince the American people to vote against their self-interest.
Paul Ryan kicked off this tag team effort with this framing attempt.
“Let me just say this…
we know we have a fiscal crisis in this country,
we know we have a debt crisis in this country,
we know its threatening our way of life, its threatening our economy and
we know we need to do something about it,
Everybody, whether your right or left, knows the sooner you tackle these problems in America the better off everyone is. “
Notice the immediate use and pairing of the words “we know” with fearful “debt crisis” rhetoric. This type of framing is straight out of Frank “The Liar” Luntz’s playbook, and is designed to make us think what this intentional framing effect wants us to think, which is that everybody knows we have a debt crisis.
In the first three minutes of Paul Ryan’s remarks, he mentioned the language of this “debt crisis” frame numerous times in order to firmly plant this idea in our heads. Just like in advertising, frames must be repeated several times in order to have an effect.
Here is some of the additional language he used to evoke the “debt crisis” frame.
“He (President Obama) punted on the deficit and the debt”,
“Crushing burden of debt that is coming our way”
“We all have to remember that today’s big deficits mean tomorrows high taxes”
“You can see that we have a title wave of debt”
“The presidents budget doubles the debt in 5 years, and triples it in 10 years”
The effectiveness of using frames to stir up our emotions is a very powerful motivator, as Frank Luntz has discovered while pushing our buttons (pun intended) in his aptly named “dial sessions.” Frank Luntz uses the information gained in his focus groups, or “dial sessions” against us in the form of deceptive language designed to not only convince us of a false reality, but to anger us enough to do something about it!
What people don’t realize is that their anger is being directed in the wrong place!
The reason we have a large deficit is primarily due to an unsustainable military budget, and tax cuts for the super-wealthy. Together, these top two priorities of the George Orwell Party (GOP) backed by Paul Ryan and Jeff Sessions, are significantly increasing our national debt and deficit by transferring wealth from average American citizens to super-wealthy members of the “privileged sector” who believe they are entitled to it!
However, when combined with a half-truth, such as the fact that we do have a high deficit, the language used by Paul Ryan to evoke the “debt crisis” frame has the added power of convincing conservatives and tea-party folks, and possibly independent voters that we need to focus on budget and tax policies that fit the frame (ie, reduced spending for all of “us”, and more tax cuts for “them”). After all, the frame tells us that we must cut spending since we have a “debt crisis”, and we must give tax cuts to the “job cremators” in order to stimulate the economy.
This is what we have been framed to believe!
The “tax & spend” Liberal frame was Jeff Sessions’s contribution to this tag team effort, and is designed to convince the American people that President Obama and Liberal Democrats are to blame for the current level of debt and deficit we face as a nation. Nice try!
Since it is becoming painfully clear that the GOP is now the George Orwell Party, let’s take a look at what Paul Ryan’s initial comments really mean.
we know (our insistence on tax cuts for the wealthy and massive military and war spending) led to a fiscal crisis in this country,
we know (our current debt was mostly caused by these 2 priorities),
we know (these budget and tax policies) are threatening our way of life, and threatening our economy and
we know we need to do something about it,
Everybody, whether your right or left, knows the sooner you tackle these problems in America the better off everyone is.
Now it makes sense!