Limbaugh’s Bipartisan Stimulus

January 29, 2009 at 9:50 pm

I have to give Rush Limbaugh credit. He is an excellent communicator. In his article in today’s Wall Street Journal, Limbaugh does quite the job of making a case for a bipartisan stimulus package.

When it comes to communicating with the public, Democrats could learn some things from Mr. Limbaugh.

He keeps the article to 748 words. Brief and succinct. Some Democrats seem incapable of keeping a sentence to this length.

He uses a nice analogy to make his point about bipartisanship. Splitting the country into the 53% that voted for Obama and the 46% that voted for McCain and then applying these numbers to the bailout gives people a simple visual to show how the bill could be weighted equally.

He uses humor. He even gives Obama the extra 1% that he claims voted for nutjobs to increase Obama’s total to 54%. Not uproariously funny, but I grinned at the jab.

He manages to bring out the kernel of both the Keynesian argument and the “trickle down” argument (though, in his partisan fashion, he makes “trickle down” economics sound beautiful and Elysian). And he does this in one paragraph.

His language is simple, direct and to the point. Listen to him talk about bipartisanship:

“The economic crisis is an opportunity to unify people, if we set aside the politics. The leader of the Democrats and the leader of the Republicans (me, according to Mr. Obama) can get it done. This will have the overwhelming support of the American people. Let’s stop the acrimony. Let’s start solving our problems, together. Why wait one more day?”

Now compare this to what Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev said.

“I am confident that we are going to get Republicans to vote (for) our bill. If we don’t, it’s not our fault.”

You don’t sound confident, Mr. Reid.

And why would you add that if you don’t succeed, it’s not your fault? The Senate vote hasn’t even happened yet and yet you appear as if you’re already looking to place blame.

Now, note here that I’m not arguing about who is or who isn’t right. I’m just looking at how the two sides communicate and the advantage seems to go to the Republicans.

I actually believe that the bill, to begin with, was fairly bipartisan. It included both spending and tax cuts.

Had the Democrats been able to communicate this in the way that Mr. Limbaugh did, they would have made a much better case for the bill.


Now to refute Mr. Limbaugh’s argument is actually quite easy. You need very few facts. Only to step back a bit and put things in perspective.

Limbaugh argues that we should split $900 billion in a bipartisan fashion according to election results 54% – 46%. He writes that this would equate to $486 billion in spending, $414 billion in tax cuts.

He forgets, though, that we’ve already allocated $700 billion to the banks and financial companies in traditional “trickle down,” conservative give the money to the corporations “who are too big to fail” fashion.

If we add the $700 billion to the total, that would give us $1.6 trillion dollars for the bailout. Dividing this 54 / 46 gives totals of $864 billion in spending to $736 billion in tax cuts and corporate handouts.

Since Obama’s plan allocates 1/3 to tax cuts, his approach looks very bipartisan indeed by Limbaugh’s own standards: $600 billion in spending and $1 billion in tax cuts and corporate handouts.

Under Obama’s plan Republicans actually come away with 62.5% of the money allocated towards their goals while Democrats are getting 37.5%.

By Limbaugh’s standards of bipartisanship, almost none of the $900 billion stimulus package should go towards tax cuts.

Of course, Rush is just an entertainer, so though I find him to be a good communicator and even sometimes entertaining, I don’t put much stock in any of his analysis.