A Better Way to Frame “Maximalist”

July 1, 2011 at 11:58 am

In the recent debate over increasing the debt ceiling, the White House has coined a new term to describe the GOP’s position: maximalist.

What the White House means is that the GOP wants 100% of what they want and doesn’t want to give anything in return.

For example, the GOP is unwilling to even consider eliminating tax breaks for oil companies.

Let’s set aside this debate for a second though and return to the word “maximalist”.

The word most people would compare this to is “maximum” which has more positive connotations than negative: maximum ride, maximum overdrive, maximum pc, etc.

Even in the dictionary definition, it seems to imply a person or persons who want to achieve the maximum.

Here are several ways this could have been framed better:

  1. Call the GOP out for what they are: unreasonable or intractable. Who in their right mind would enter into a negotiation with a religious side that has already made up their mind?
  2. Frame a balanced budget as having two parts: A budget is balanced when revenue is greater than or equal to spending. To balance a budget you need to look at both sides of the equation. If you truly want a balanced budget, let’s not limit ourselves.
  3. Put them in a position of having to respond, a position where they are responsible for something. Ask them where they’d be willing to compromise on revenue. If they aren’t willing to compromise, then they look even more unreasonable.
  4. Talk about how the GOP believes in “not paying the bills“. Because that’s what debt default means – not honoring your commitments. The United States honors our commitments.
  5. Call them out on their true agenda: wanting to get rid of government, to “drown it in the bathtub.” This is the real reason Republicans are actually for debt. First, they want to put the government in the position of borrowing and then, when times are tough, use the debt as justification for their agenda of deregulation and privatization.
  6. Showcase the GOP fantasyland. This fantasyland is a land where taxes constantly decrease and somehow the budget magically balances itself.

Democrats did the right thing in asking for ways to increase revenue.

But if Republicans are only willing to consider their ideas, then they’re being hard-headed or unreasonable or religious, not “maximalist.”

So far the Republican Congress has been a disgrace. They’ve only passed 3 bills this year which haven’t had to do with naming buildings.

But they don’t care. Because the less government does, the more Republicans can blame government. Even though this means that basically they’re blaming themselves.

To break this cycle is going to require shedding light on the GOP and their tactics. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is going to happen without a fight.

And a fight is going to require stronger language than “maximalist.” Especially when the other side is calling Obama a “dick.”