Frank Luntz Republican Playbook -- Searchable Text-Version: PART III "GROWTH, PROSPERITY, & RESTORE ENERGY and ECONOMIC SECURITY"
UPDATE: This (third) Section is now complete.
In the third installment of the text version of the Luntz Republican playbook, Frank tells us how to, among other things, frame 'lawsuits' (never mentioned without the word frivolous preceding it) as a primary driver for the horrific loss of jobs over the course of Bush's reign in the White House.
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GROWTH, PROSPERITY, & RESTORE ENERGY and ECONOMIC SECURITY
Recent economic numbers aside, the American people are still very concerned about economic conditions in general and the job situation in particular. There may be two million new jobs created over the past year alone, but the perception is that this is still a very tough job market and that job “insecurity” is warranted. That’s why the language that follows is so important.
THE TEN COMMUNICATION KEYS OF A STRONGER, HEALTHIER ECONOMY
1) The War on Terror is inextricably linked with our Economy. We still talk about 9-11 every day, but rarely in the context of its effect on the economy. To talk effectively about the recession and our strong economic recovery, you have to talk about the impact of the War on Terror.
2) Empathize. I've said this many times, but it's still so hard for business leaders and conservative politicians to show empathy when they talk about the economy and PARTICULARLY when talking about the economic recovery. Remember, this is an issue that strikes at Americans’ hearts as much as it does their wallets. Too often Republicans offer emotionally shallow economic principles. Show them you care.
3) Don't Assert An Economic Recovery. Prove it. Ask any American whether they personally feel as though our economy is back to normal, and maybe 3 out of 10 will say yes. Unfortunately, too many in Washington don't seem to agree and gleefully trot out the latest numbers, facts and figures to show why. To voters, an economic recovery isn't found in a pie chart, it's found in their checking book. Don’t make this mistake by asserting that the recovery is here. Always talk about “an economy that continues to grow and the new jobs that are being created every day.”
4) Have a LONG-TERM PLAN. Rather than asserting a good economy, you must still talk about the pandemic issues that it faces and your solutions to them. No matter how good the economy gets, Americans will still believe that it could be better. In their hearts, they always believe there is more opportunity to instill and inefficiency to wring out.
5) Don't talk about Tax Cuts, Talk about Tax Hikes. Do not be too quick to cite the tax cuts for the economy's improvement. It is rarely believed even among your most fervent supporters. Instead, link potential tax increases to their negative economic repercussions and you will get a much more positive reaction. The difference between these two is truly amazing. Americans oppose tax hikes even more than they support tax cuts.
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6) Every one must benefit - particularly HARDWORKING OVERBURDENED AMERICAN TAXPAYERS. The public is looking for inclusive policies that lift up all economic boats. In this outsourcing debate, it really is essential that you make a commitment that all Americans will be helped by your efforts. That’s why, when talking about the economy, you need to address personally the people who make it happen.
7) It’s Not about jobs. It's about CAREERS. Job training and lifelong learning is at the core of a policy of long-term, sustained, genuine economic success. Job training and lifelong learning is at the core of the American Dream - the opportunity to grow a job into a career and the opportunity to grow a career into a business of your own. So even though you want to talk about creating jobs, you then want to add “... so that every American will have the career of their choice.”
8) American prosperity depends on INNOVATION and AMERICAN PRODUCTIVITY. Americans have never been accused of being a humble people. So use this to your advantage - this country likes to think of themselves as hard-workers able to compete and win against any other country in the world. Tapping this spirit encourages voter alignment with a conservative solution to outsourcing.
9) The root cause of outsourcing is the inhospitable business climate in the US. And the best way to address this problem is found in reducing taxation, regulation, and litigation, which allows innovation and education to bring more jobs into America.
10) "THE OPPORTUNITY OF OWNERSHIP." This is the best way to frame the President's innovative Ownership Society message. Ownership in itself is perceived as being beyond the means of some Americans, but all Americans appreciate and value the opportunity of someday owning a home, owning a business, and owning their retirement savings - all essential components of the American Dream. Ownership means control - and getting control of their lives is an essential component of our day-to-day quality of life.
Yes, the public is concerned about deficits and the growing debt, but a strong economy and safe, secure jobs are higher priorities. The words that follow will help you explain in plain English why your solutions are the correct solutions.
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1) Empathize. Don't Assert. Americans don't want to be told that the economy is doing better, because most haven't seen any evidence of such. So long as they are out of work, or scraping through multiple jobs to make ends meet they don't see the economy improving at all. That’s why it is best to stay away from assertive statements like the one below - people just plain don't believe it:
GOP WORDS THAT DON'T WORK
"I think the evidence is overwhelming that the economy is doing very well. We've come through the recession and the aftermath of 9/11. I think it's beginning to sink in with the public as well, too. I think anybody who looks at it objectively has trouble making the case that somehow this is a bad economy."
The public absolutely positively NEVER wants to be told what it thinks. They want empathy rather than statistical declarations. They want to know that they are more than just a number, so give them something worthy of optimism rather than the latest economic results.
GOP WORDS THAT WORK
Considering what we have been through these last few years, it is remarkable that the American economy is doing as well as it is.
We came into office with a recession, and then we had 9/11. In light of both, we are actually doing okay - and it clearly looks like we will be doing better in the weeks and months ahead. There are still people out there in some industries bearing a heavy load because of the economic damage from 9/11 - and we are working hard to help them. But there is good reason to be hopeful. Every month we and jobs, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands. Every month more people are buying homes and investing in their future. It took a while, but we are getting back on track.
2) Draw the past-future context. The Democrats are far too focused on the same old “people vs. the powerful” debate, pitting themselves as the defender of the common man against corporate America. You have to make clear that this is the politics of the past; that it’s time to leave these petty debates behind and have a real, adult discussion about finding solutions for our future. Solutions that bring benefit to all. Change this debate into the mature one that it needs to be. Allow them to represent the past and hang themselves in the process. You are focused on the future; you are focused on solutions.
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WORDS THAT WORK: SETTING THE CONTEXT
"It is time not only to look toward the future, but also to begin planning for it. It is also time to leave the old-fashioned partisan politics and political negativity behind. Beating up on corporate America will not return American economic vitality and security. It will make some people feel good, and it may win a vote or two, but it won't create a single job here at home or sell a single product to someone overseas."
3) A recitation of the latest employment figures will not win the jobs debate. Having a “long-term plan” is a better approach. John Edwards attacked the Bush administration where it is most vulnerable claiming that the new jobs that have been created don't compensate for all the jobs that were lost:
THE DEMOCRAT ATTACK
"They've lost over three million private-sector jobs, two and a half million manufacturing jobs. We have over nine million people who don't have a job. We have over three million people who have slipped into poverty. Almost four million people have lost their health-care coverage under the president. We've still got an awfully long way to go.
It's not just a matter of whether some of the millions of jobs that President Bush has lost are now being replaced. That alone doesn't answer the question. What are the quality of the jobs? What are the incomes and salaries of those jobs?"
In his case, the numbers worked because they confirm perceptions. Plants, factories and companies reduce their workforce so publicly, while the companies that have been expanding often don't draw attention to themselves - and all the small business advances and expansion in self-employment often get no attention at all.
Why not have 10 of the Fortune 100 CEOs come to Washington and announce that if the Senate will pass lawsuit abuse reform, they each will pledge to hire 10,000 new employees in the next year.
It is tempting to counter-attack using facts and figures. Resist the temptation. Several Republicans at the convention made the claim that our economy is chugging along just fine and used statistics to prove it. Well, I've got bad news for you - no matter who you are, if you try to link economic statistics with voter’s pocketbooks, you fail - they just don't see it or believe it.
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If you still feel the need to reel off statistics, then go right ahead, but understand that these cannot be the brunt of your argument.
A more effective message is to focus on why jobs have been lost and what will bring them back. Though the numbers are true, they're just not credible. Instead, focus on the future. Americans don't want to be told things are getting better. They want to hear a plan of action to make them better. The President's language works because it speaks to a series of individual proposals that common sense suggests will lead to job creation and because it identifies a series of specific obstacles that need to be removed.
BUSH WORDS THAT WORK
"To create jobs, my [LONG-TERM] PLAN will encourage investment and expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation and making tax relief permanent. To create [GOOD] jobs, we will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy. To create jobs, we will expand trade and level the playing field to sell American goods and services across the globe. And we must protect small business owners and workers from the expansion of frivolous lawsuits that threaten jobs across America.
[Much of this we have already begun. and that's why there are almost two million new jobs created in the last year. And we plan to do even more.]"
But telling people what you are for is not enough. You also have to tell people what you are against. The language below does just that:
GOP WORDS THAT WORK
I will not be satisfied until every American who wants a job can find one. But that requires us to stand up and SAY NO to the SPECIAL INTERESTS that stand in the way of creating new jobs.
Washington does not create jobs. The economy does. Washington doesn't give raises. Employers do. It's time for Washington to stop making life more difficult for employers and employees and give them the freedom to create jobs and provide raises for American workers.
A tax code that is too complex, lawsuits that are out of control, and too much bureaucracy destroys jobs and prevents raises. We need to remove these OBSTACLES to more jobs and higher salaries.
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This is where my opponent and I fundamentally disagree. For the last four years, we have tried to remove the obstacles to more jobs and higher salaries, but both Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards have VOTED NO.
President Bush and I believe that when Washington sets taxes too high, and when greedy personal injury lawyers push frivolous lawsuits, Americans lose jobs. You can't say you're fighting for the American worker and support higher taxes and oppose lawsuit abuse reform at the same time. You have to choose.
4) September 11th changed everything. So start with 9/11. This is the context that explains and justifies why we have $500 billion dollar deficits, why the stock market tanked, why unemployment climbed to 6% and why we are still in a rebuilding mode. Much of the public anger can be immediately pacified if they are reminded that we would not be in this situation today if 9/11 had not happened, and that it is unfair to blame the current political leadership or corporate America for the consequences of that day.
THE POSITIVE MESSAGE.
"The plain and simple fact is that American businesses, jobs, and consumers were all hurt by September 11, and some businesses are still suffering more than three years later. But we are fighting back. People are returning to work. We are returning to our daily lives. And in celebration of the American Dream, we are not just striving to recover that which was lost, but to rebuild our nation and ourselves even better than it ever was. And let me be clear: our best days are still to come."
Without the context of 9-11, you will be blamed for the deficit. The deficit is a touchy subject for both Republicans and Democrats - your supporters are inherently turned off to the idea of fiscal irresponsibility, and Democrats see nothing but hypocrisy. The trick then is to contextualize the deficit inside of 9-11 and the war in Iraq, which Republicans sometimes do, but not early enough in the answer.
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GOP WORDS THAT WORK
In order to appreciate all that we have done, it's important to remember what we've been through.
As a country, we have faced a challenge unique to our generation - a devastating attack on our soil that severely constricted our economy. As a result, we've had to take some extraordinary measures that are quite costly. But our first priority is national security and we determined that it was necessary to invest in protecting the homeland. That was the right decision because homeland security is the right priority.
The next step is to get domestic spending under control. Frankly, you don't do that by adding dozens of new federal programs and raising taxes. You do that through discipline and accountability. The President has established a tough, but realistic goal of cutting the deficit in half over the next four years. With the right amount of restraint in non-defense discretionary spending and uncompromising accountability, we'll make it.
5) Link the war on terror to the economy. As the emotional reaction to 9-11 subsides, it is important to remind Americans of the more tangible impact the events of that day continue to exert on their wallets and pocketbooks. It's clear that they understand this even if it is something they themselves would rather not articulate.
CHENEY WORDS THAT WORK
The terrorists clearly have as one of their objectives trying to throw off the economy, trying to inflict economic pain, and it’s important that we not allow them that victory.
The terrorists win if we end up so hunkered down that we have to fundamentally change our lifestyle, our open society, our free movement of goods and people and ideas back and forth across international borders. If we can’t live the way we'd like to live, then the terrorists score a major victory. We can't allow that to happen.
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6) Don't assert that the tax cuts caused the economic recovery. This is probably heresy but we have never found a Republican who bas effectively made the case for strong economic growth as a result of the tax cuts. It has been tried and tried and tried and it just doesn't sound credible. Claiming the tax cuts are working because economic numbers say so simply does not resonate - and repeating it often won't make it so. Worse yet, attempting to link tax cuts to an improving economy actually undermines the cornerstone of the administration's economic policy in their eyes.
Instead of linking the current economic situation with tax cuts, you would be better off linking tax increases to future economic hardship. In plain English, take credit for "reducing the tax burden on hardworking Americans.”
Then talk about taxes in terms of real people. A personal, real life success story told in someone else's words is the perfect coda. Laura Bush's words work because they tell the story of the most popular employer in America: female small business owners.
LAURA BUSH WORDS THAT WORK
"I could talk about the small business owner and entrepreneurs who are now creating most of the new jobs in our country - women like Carmela Chaifos - the only woman to own a tow truck company in all of Iowa.
The President's tax relief helped Carmela to buy the business, modernize her fleet, and expand her operations. Carmela is living proof of what she told me. She said, if you’re determined and you want to work hard, you can do anything you want to. That's the beautiful thing about America.
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Concern about outsourcing has not and will not disappear simply because John Kerry is no longer on the stump. Even now, in 2005, Americans are still concerned about losing jobs overseas, and let’s face it: the Democrats have been controlling the debate. It’s time for the GOP to take control of this tricky issue. This is a winnable issue so long as you communicate it appropriately. The principles below are a good place to start, but if you truly want to own this issue, read the following pages carefully.
SOLUTIONS. That is the word that encapsulates what Americans want most right now when it comes to the issues of jobs, outsourcing and the future of the American workforce. Stop talking about outsourcing as an ‘economic reality or a natural progression of globalization” and START empathizing with American workers. And there is no better way to empathize than to provide them with a solution.
The words you say will be just as important as the passion with which you say them, and what follows is a detailed and tested lexicon of the words, phrases, and chunks of language to make it happen. Message is essential here. Americans are listening very closely to what you have to say and how you say it. . Your language needs to be disciplined amidst your outrage, and your message must remain consistent in its appeal to the positive., vision you’ll espouse. This memo won’t provide you with specific policies, but it will help you to communicate the core principles of a return to American prosperity in the 21st Century global economy.
*YOUR BEST 130-WORD RESPONSE*
Our approach offers a better solution because our approach offers less. Less taxation. Less litigation. Less regulation. And that means more innovation.
Less taxation, so that small businesses can hire employees rather than accountants. Less litigation, so that health can costs are spent in the operating room, not the courtroom, and the products you buy cost less because the predatory lawyers and frivolous lawsuits don’t cost more. Less regulation, so that companies no longer have to file paperwork that no one reads or get caught between two mammoth bureaucracies that have conflicting rules and red tape.
And that means more innovation because more businesses and more people can be focused on creating a better future with better products and better services. When it comes to government, less IS more.
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Quite frankly, business leaders and conservative politicians often fail to show empathy. You can never have enough empathy, particularly when a person’s livelihood is at stake. Remember, this is an issue that strikes at Americans’ hearts as much as it does their livelihoods. It threatens their dreams as much as it does theft checkbook. Too often Republicans offer principles that are only economic in nature. Voters and shareholders also need to know you share theft hurt and anxiety.
ANSWERING A TOUGH QUESTION: SHOWING YOU CARE
Q: “So I’m an employee. What do you say me? I’ve made sweaters for 25 years and I was darn good at it and my job until my factory just went away. What do you say to me and my kids because my company took my job away?”
A: “Above all else, we’re sorry for the situation that you’re in. No one should have to endure such hardships, especially after so many years of hard work -- and honestly, it’s hard for me to understand just how hard it is.
But what I do understand is that we need to work together to create an environment where we can create jobs so you can have work again.”
7) “We deserve a better approach." You will not win this debate by merely attacking the veracity or credibility of your opponents. The public rightfully sees a problem and they are looking for answers. You cannot spend too much time criticizing the opposition (no more than 2 minutes). Within the first two minutes you need to offer a summary of what you propose. No matter what they say, say we can do better. No matter what they do, it could have been done better. Everything we talk about should embrace “a better approach” and take the principle of improvement to the next level.
WORDS THAT WORK: OUTLINING THE SOLUTION
“You deserve a better approach — and we have one. If we want companies to stop sending jobs abroad, we need better policies right here at home. Reducing taxation, reducing bureaucratic inefficiencies, reducing litigation, and increasing education will restore our economic vitality, enhance our prosperity and make America more competitive.”
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8) Everyone must benefit. The public is looking for inclusive policies and responding best to inclusive language. While we are not a society prone to class warfare, there is a greater concern now than in the past that the poor are being left behind and that more needs to be done to protect their interests. In this outsourcing debate, it really is essential that you make a commitment that all Americans will be helped by your efforts.
9) It’s not about jobs. It’s about CAREERS. Job training and lifelong learning is at the core of a policy of long-term, sustained, genuine economic success. Job training and lifelong learning is at the core of the American Dream — the opportunity to grow a job into a career, the opportunity to grow a career into a business of your own; The opportunity to work where you want and do what you want. So talk about “creating jobs so that millions of Americans can have the career of their dreams.”
WORDS THAT WORK: CAREERS, NOT JUST JOBS
“A career is something that you look forward to. It puts you on the path of life. A career is about pride, about self-worth, something you share with family and friends. A job is something you get after high school or college. At a job, you look forward to coming home from work. At a career, you look forward to going to work.
What we want to do in this American economy is give people access to careers, working for themselves and their future. If you’re just going to a job and punching the clock, you’re not going to be happy, you’re not going to be prosperous, and you’re not going to be looking toward the future. If you have a good career then you feel like you’re making a difference, not only in your life but in lives of others, then you feel like you’re apart of the American system of progress. That is a career, that is a good thing, and that’s the American dream.”
GENERAL ISSUES OF OUTSOURCING AND PROSPERITY
Never, never, never begin a response to outsourcing by saying it is beneficial to the U.S. economy. Never. Outsourcing is nothing more than the impact of taxation, regulation, litigation, innovation, education and trade policy all rolled up into one. Each one of these issues needs to be addressed as a component of your message. We start with trade because that’s the traditional Republican response. It is actually the weakest The single biggest mistake proponents of the free market system make is to respond to an attack on outsourcing with a defense of free trade. It may be the right policy but it is most certainly the WRONG politics.
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Nonetheless, there is a perception problem among Americans when it comes to outsourcing. We asked Americans what they thought to be the greater amount: the number of jobs American companies have outsourced to foreigners overseas over the past ten years, or the number of Americans employed in America by foreign-owned companies. 54% of Americans thought that the number of outsourced jobs exceeded the number of “insourced” jobs, while only 8% thought the opposite.
This is your core problem. Americans do not realize the value that foreign companies bring to this country. This must be communicated more often and more effectively. Outsourcing is a problem, but don’t be afraid to talk about its flip side. Let’s face it: Americans who work for foreign companies are not acutely aware of their own situation, particularly in the context of the outsourcing debate. They must be reminded of their place in the global economy, and in fact, of how it benefits them. It cannot be too crass, but this is an extraordinarily effective point and must therefore be emphasized.
Still, this cannot be an issue about just “outsourcing;” it must be about identifying and solving the ROOT CAUSES of an inhospitable business climate. This is how you set the context for why the Republican agenda is better for the American economy than the Democrat’s plan. You can’t rail against taxes, or rally for lawsuit abuse reform, or even clamor to cut red tape until you provide the context for those aggressive issues. Otherwise voters will think you are just pursuing your own pet projects. Rather, you must communicate that you want to identify and solve the problem for what it really is, not just offer short-term gimmicks in response to a very large-scale problem. Highlighting the root causes is the best way to turn a tough question on its head, while taking the positive route.
WORDS THAT WORK: IDENTIFYING THE ROOT CAUSE
“What we need to worry about is why it’s profitable for companies to move jobs offshore. We should be looking to change the environment, change the rules, and enforce our trade agreements so that those giqs don’t have to move jobs offshore.”
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A GREAT ANSWER TO A TOUGH QUESTION
Q: “You come from a state that has been punished by major corporations moving jobs overseas, isn’t it time that we punish those corporations for punishing their employees?”
A: “Well a lot of people will tell you first it’s time for us to ask the question, “Why do these companies leave?” What is it that forces them to make the decision to leave the United States, the stability of our government and the rule of law and the protection of patents and everything else that goes along with it? I think that’s where Washington has missed it. We really need to look at the role of government in making a U.S. manufacturer uncompetitive in a global marketplace.”
10) It’s not the size of the business that matters. It’s the “entrepreneurial spirit” that moves people. As a general rule, when you’re defending corporations, you must understand that it is literally impossible to score a language home run. But as unsympathetic as Americans are to corporate America right now, they are still totally supportive of the entrepreneurial spirit of innovation, discovery and success. It is here that your tax simplification, lawsuit abuse reform, and red tape cutting solutions will resonate most. Businesses will be the first to benefit from those solutions, and they’ll be the first to hire on more workers as soon as they get the hint from you that this country’s not going to be hostile to them any longer.
11) Focus on INNOVATION. In fact, break it down this way: Education—Innovation—Employment. Talk about the greatness of American workers with regards to innovation and discovery. Talk about how America’s utilization of technology has made us the envy of the world and how other nations send their best and brightest to America to learn. Then link innovation with education, and you have a very strong argument.
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WORDS THAT WORK: EDUCTATION & INNOVATION
“There is no question that without quality education, we may loose the Innovation that leads to full employment. When you look at the new careers, they’re coming from new technology. They’re coming from the most innovative fields. They’re inventing new products, new services, a better quality of life. They’re doing things differently — and better than its ever been done before. Those are the jobs we want to create; the careen we want to encourage; the skills we need to teach. Those jobs become careen, and a career allows a worker to Invest In themselves and their community. That’s what I mean by innovation.
“But in order to make innovation happen, we need to reinvest in education at all levels. The President’s Initiative of No Child Left Behind is a good start, but we need to add to that. We need .to add to it federally. We certainly need to add to it on the state level. We need a partnership between business, and government that insures that innovation will continue That’s something America needs to work a lot harder on.”
12) PRODUCTIVITY is a key principle of prosperity. Americans love to work, and we love the idea that we love to work. More accurately, this nation is one that prides itself on productivity. It’s not just that we work for the sake of working, but that we work for the sake of PRODUCING. We love to be productive, and we love to be reminded of just how productive we are. Americans want you to know that they’re worth their wages, that there is more to them than a salary and an employment statistic. It is their productivity that makes them the unparalleled resource they truly are. Show them you understand both their hopes and their fears.
THE TRUE VALUE OF U.S. WORKERS
“Employees an capital assets. They’re not just a line on a ledger sheet. They’re not just an amorphous group of people treated the same way we treat machinery. They are people with dreams and hopes and visions. They have kids in college. They have mortgage payments to make. I care about them, I value them, and I am determined to help them succeed.
--Chairman Don Manzuflo
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13) Americans will not accept second place or second best. When it comes to trade, we want to win. While this language of competition and victory plays somewhat better among men than women, we react to international, trade the way some people react to the Yankees-Red Sox. The only acceptable outcome is a victory. Any mention of the trade issue should be accompanied by an explicit expression of support for the American worker and the American workforce, and a commitment to fight and win for them.
WORDS THAT WORK
“As a matter of principle, when Americans compete In anything, we must play to win, not to tie and most certainly not to lose. Trade is not a zero some game. What we need are fair trade arrangements that promote the needs and advantages of each nation. And as you and I both know, America has a lot of advantages. All we need is to enhance the ability of American businessmen and women to seize those advantages in the global marketplace.”
WORDS THAT WORK & A SIMPLE FACT
“I reject the notion that we should shut out foreign countries and foreign products from American markets. I reject the notion that we should stop buying Sony, Panasonic, Volvo and VW. I reject the notion that we should kick out the Japanese and German automobile factories that operate in more than a dozen states and employ tens of thousands of Americans, As Americans, we should strive to produce the best and buy the best.
Economic Isolationism will not work. We cannot close our borders and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. The fact is, thanks to American innovation and productivity, American businesses produce a lot more than we could possibly sell in America.
We’re five percent of the world’s population. That means that 95 percent of the markets are outside the United States. We’ve got the best workers in the world, the best businesses. We can be competitive. We’ve got to make sure that the rest of the world is open to our farmers, our agricultural producers and our manufacturers, I think what we need to make sure of is there’s a level playing field for our workers, that we’re all playing by the same rules and we’re enforcing trade laws, and this administration will work very hard to do that.”
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TAXATION LITIGATION. INNOVATION, EDUCATION: THE. POLICIES OF PROSPERITY
“An out-of-work American has been denied the American dream of a steady paycheck and the satisfaction of a good day’s work. Losing a job in the name of efficiency is no comfort to a displaced mother who needs to feed her children. We must therefore ensure a personal, compassionate response to this impersonal and callous global economy.”
Taxation. Litigation. Innovation. Education. Remember those four words for they are at the core of your message, your policy and your response to critics of corporate America. Here is the policy answer to the outsourcing challenge that offers a solution without selling out conservative free-market principles. The four words should be strung together, repeated often, with an adverb attached: too much taxation, too much litigation, not enough innovation and not enough education. That should be your mantra. Remember it. Fortunately, the words rhyme, which means your audience will remember it as well.
14) Americans want you to define the role of Washington. The problem is there is absolutely no consensus as to exactly what Washington should be doing right now. They just want something done. The most credible language has a pitch that resonates to all ears. For Republicans, it talks about limiting intervention. For Democrats, it talks about creating the right economic environment. And for both political partisans, it has an explicit focus on the future.
WORDS THAT WORK
Our job in Washington is to set the right course for the business community, but with an important caveat The true engine for job growth In this country will never be the federal government.
What the federal government can and must do is to foster the most fruitful economic environment possible so that those Americans pursing their own entrepreneurial dreams can have the best possible chance for success We must prepare our workers for today’s international marketplace with the skills for tomorrow’s economy.
15) Stay on message! Focus on ROOT CAUSES... don’t talk about “outsourcing” as an issue of “trade.” The moment the public bears you dismiss outsourcing as an economic reality or just a component of trade is the moment they will look to the Democrats as the party that speaks to their needs. To talk about this in terms of trade is to communicate without empathy for their individual concerns and without offering tangible solutions.
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WORDS THAT DO NOT WORK
Q: “I watched the speech that the president made today in Ohio. Strong defense of his economic policies, and he went further in talking about fighting economic isolationism. But Secretary, be never used the word ‘outsourcing.’ Why is the administration shying away from this outsourcing issue?”
A: “Well, you know, Alan, all that is, is trade. He talked a lot about trade. He talked about the importance of free trade. He talked about the fact that presidents of both parties since World War II have moved to expand and open trade around the world, and how important that is for creating the environment for better jobs here in America, for a more secure America.”
16) It’s about tax SIMPLIFICATION. While most Republicans would probably prefer calling for tax relief, any battle over tax cuts immediately becomes partisan and that means you lose more than half your audience. Similarly, despite Kerry’s campaign, less than half of Americans would advocate a reduction in corporate taxes. However, what Americans do want — and what conservatives, moderates and even some liberals do support, is tax simplification.
WORDS THAT WORK: TAX SIMPLIFICATION
As a matter of principle, if we want American companies to create more American jobs, we need to have an American tax system that encourages employers to stay right here on our soil.
This is not a pitch for tax cuts. But it is most definitely a pitch for tax simplification. Too many companies have to hire too many accountants and too many lawyers to fill out too many forms to comply with a tax code that is simply beyond comprehension. By simplifying the tax code, companies can cut overhead, increase productivity, and hire more Americans to create more products, more services and more profit. True, a few lawyers might temporarily lose their jobs, but that’s one profession that always lands on their feet.
The current administration recently streamlined tax-reporting requirements for small businesses, helping 2.6 million small businesses save 61 million hours of unproductive work. That was a fantastic first step, but we need to do even more for all businesses.
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17) Talk “tax rates” rather than tax cuts.” Americans have had enough talk about tax cuts for a while. If you want to engage the public in a context that you can win, a better approach is to talk about over-taxation without specifying the solution or calling for more tax cuts. A lot more Americans believe companies are overtaxed than believe those tax rates should be lowered. The public wants something new and different. Drawing the linkage between too much taxation and the threat to prosperity surely has been said before, but it is less philosophical. For most Americans, it’s just plain common sense.
WORDS THAT WORK: OVERTAXATION
“What we need is some common sense here. If we want to encourage US companies to employ US workers, it makes no sense to tax them to where they have no choice but seek cheaper labor. When it comes to job loss, we can’t tax our way out of the problem… but we sure can tax our way into It. Too much taxation destroys innovation and destroys prosperity.”
18) Talk “tax fairness and “tax neutrality.” The public has no patience for a tax code that actually hinders American products sold abroad while helping foreign products sold here. Reducing taxes on exports and/or increasing taxes on imports begins to move toward complicated economic philosophy but the labels “tax fairness” and “tax neutrality” explain enough that you should not shy away from this argument if you believe it. The key principle in this tax adjustment debate is a phrase you’ve all heard before: “a level playing field.” American products deserve exactly the same treatment abroad that we give foreign products at home.
19) Ending lawsuit abuse. Please, please, please STOP saying tort reform. For too many Americans tort reform has something to do with a French pastry. Tort reform is legalistic, bureaucratic and definitely impersonal. But while a large segment of Americans don’t know what tort reform actually means, virtually all Americans know what lawsuit abuse reform does TO THEM.
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LAWSUIT ABUSE WORDS THAT WORK
“As a matter of principle, companies should be spending less money on litigation and more money on innovation. The single greatest disincentive for America businesses to do business here In America is the absurdity of our legal system. We have become the lawsuit capital of the world. Some companies actually spend more money fighting off frivolous lawsuits than the gross national product of countries that belong to the UN. Other countries use their legal system only when necessary. In America, too many people see the legal system as a loose slot machine, and too many personal Injury lawyers see it as a potential jackpot.”
20) It’s not just the legal system. It’s the people who are abusing the system for their own financial gain. Once and for all, it’s time to take on the PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS. Those on the outsourcing kick have personalized and demonized America’s CEOs. To some degree that’s a smart (though highly unjustified) strategy because it puts a human face behind the condemnation. You need to practice exactly what they preach — and the personal injury lawyer is the perfect foil. The truth is, GREEDY personal injury lawyers have cost more jobs than any CEO through their reckless abuse of the legal system.
WORDS THAT WORK: PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS
“Everyone deserves their day in court, but the aggressive nature of the personal injury attorneys and their gaming of the system have ensured that companies spend almost EVERY day in court.
There is simply too much fraud and abuse within the legal system thanks to the unholy alliance of greedy personal injury lawyers and their irresponsible clients. Together, they are ratcheting up the cost of doing business in America while simultaneously driving down the integrity and consistency of our judicial system. As a result, the cost of doing business becomes so expensive that first the jobs go elsewhere, and then the company goes elsewhere.”
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21) No component of the Agenda for Prosperity is more popular than job training and lifelong learning. The single most popular component of the President’s 2004 State of the Union address was his call for increased focus on job training efforts. Republicans and Democrats alike feel that our society is not reaching its potential because of an education system that still doesn’t deliver consistent quality. There are actually three component of this effort: First, the state of American schools is still of grave concern. Second, Americans axe not particularly aware of the concept of lifelong learning but they endorse it wholeheartedly. And third, Americans absolutely believe in the value of job training and see it as a joint responsibility and partnership between business and the federal government
22) Finally, challenge the premise of the question. Be aggressive. Seize the issue! Don’t let reporters corner you into answering their questions on their terms – especially on outsourcing. It’s NOT outsourcing. It’s the hostile business climate in America. It’s NOT trade. It’s about creating economic vitality. It’s NOT about just jobs... it’s about careers and the American Dream.
WORDS THAT DO NOT WORK
Q: “Another proposal talked about would require you, If you have a call center in India, that if somebody calls from there, they have to say, ‘By the way, I’m in Bangalore, India.’ What do you think of that idea?”
A: “Well, I think it’s a very inefficient way to run an operation. It’s going to take more time, and time means money to the American people and the American consumer. What we’re trying to do is make sure that prices are lower here in America.”
A MUCH BETTER APPROACH
“Your question misses the point of this very serious issue. For a number of very specific reasons — taxation,, regulation, litigation, innovation and education — we have created a business climate here In America that has actually encouraged companies to move those jobs abroad.
What we need are solutions to those problems, like tax simplification, regulatory reduction, lawsuit abuse reform, and a renewed commitment to innovation and lifelong learning, right here in America, not cosmetic and superficial changes. It’s time to get serious about these very serious Issues. Too many jobs are at stake to be playing politics now.”
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THE WORDS AND LANGUAGE OF PROSPERTY
* Economic (In)security
* Economic Isolationism
* A Level Playing. Field
* Compete & Win
* Trade Enforcement
* Fighting for the American Worker
* A Balanced, Common Sense Approach
* Tax Fairness
* Tax Simplification
* Simplify & Streamline Regulations
* Lawsuit Abuse Reform
* Greedy Personal Injury Lawyers
* Energy Independence, Diversity and Self-Sufficiency
* A Smart, Flexible, Efficient, Effective Workforce
* Real World Solutions to Real World Problems
* We can Do Better
Frank Luntz Republican Playbook -- Searchable Text-Version
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