Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The Big Picture: Has #OWS "blown up" the Republican Santa Claus theory? 20 October '11
Republican strategist Jude Wanniski died back in 2005.
But his famous Two Santa Claus theory died just this month - 6 years later.
And it died thanks to Occupy Wall Street.
Our nation's obsession with the so-called "debt crisis" - is really all thanks to Jude Wanniski.
Wanniski had this brilliant idea - that was picked up by Reagan - that Republicans could play Santa Claus - just like Democrats always did - by giving people something - in this case, tax cuts.
He knew that Democrats historically did well at the polls because, like Santa Claus, they give people stuff like Social Security - Medicare - Medicaid - unemployment insurance - food stamps - all that kind of stuff, you know.
And so, he said, Republicans could play Santa Claus, too - by giving people the gift of tax cuts.
And, as an added bonus for Republicans, the more tax cuts they gave people - particularly rich people - then the bigger our national debt would get, eventually getting so bad that it would force Democrats to shoot Santa Claus - to kill off social programs - because they just can't afford it anymore.
So, following Jude Wanniski's strategy since 1981, Republicans ran up huge, massive deficits - thanks to massive tax cuts - all the while not saying one word about fiscal responsibility.
Reagan tripled the national debt - George W. Bush added another 6 trillion dollars to it - and Republicans in Congress, ah, it's just fine, "a-ok" with everything!
It was the plan, after all - they were the tax cut Santas!
And then as soon as a Democrat gets in office - suddenly the world is ending because of our huge debt - debt run up mostly by Republicans following Jude Wanniski's plan - and drastic measures need to be taken - Santa needs to be shot!
Those very same Republicans who rubber-stamped Bush's $6 trillion deficit-spending agenda - now they want to use the debt that they created as an excuse to force a Democratic President - in this case President Obama - to shoot Santa by cutting Social Security - Medicare - and whatever else they can take their hacksaws too - all in the name of a "debt crisis".
That scenario pretty much defines President Obama's first three years - at least, in the media - as he tried to stimulate the economy and create jobs with more spending, and was blocked by Republican filibusters each and every time - with the single possible exception of the stimulus bill that got much, much smaller because of the Republicans.
The Republicans knew if they could bring enough pressure on the Democrats by freaking out about the debt they themselves had caused with their tax cuts, that they could force then the Democrats to shoot the Santa Claus of Social Security, the Santa Claus of Medicare, and maybe even the Santa Clauses of unemployment benefits and the minimum wage - and take us back to an economy truly safe for the very rich - like the one Dickens wrote about in his story about Scrooge, Marley, Bob Cratchett, and Tiny Tim.
And for a while, it worked - the so-called "debt crisis" defined the narrative in the media virtually from the day Obama was sworn into office, and the rich Scrooges of the country got hundreds of billions of dollars richer, while the Tiny Tims had more and more of their benefits cut and their parents threatened with unemployment.
The "Bob Cratchett working people" of America were reduced to saying, "Please, Mister Scrooge, may I have a lump of coal to keep warm? Please may I have just a little bit of health care for Tiny Tim?" And the Scrooges were of course saying, "No, no way!"
As a ThinkProgress report pointed out back in July - when our nation was facing an ACTUAL unemployment crisis - and Republicans were spinning a MANUFACTURED debt-crisis - the big three cable news networks MSNBC - Fox - and CNN - took Wanniski's bait.
In one week - there were more than 7,500 references to debt on the cable news networks - but only 500 references to unemployment.
The mainstream media was FIFTEEN times more likely to talk about phony baloney debt crisis than about the very real problem of unemployment - no wonder why the debt-limit deal in August did NOTHING for Americans who can't find work.
But then something happened.
Occupy Wall Street happened.
Tired of waiting on Congress to address the jobs crisis - and waiting on the media to inform the country about the jobs crisis - people took to the streets.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world took to the streets - because unemployment isn't just a problem in America - it's a problem pretty much everywhere.
And as much as the media would liked to have ignored Occupy Wall Street - as much as Jude Wanniski's debt-crisis is far more appealing to the Republican-leaning corporate media outlets - they eventually had no choice.
According to the Pew Research Center - Occupy Wall Street made up 10% of the mainstream media's news coverage last week - that's up from 7% the week before - and up from 2% the week before that.
And with more focus on Occupy Wall Street - there's less focus on Jude Wanniski's debt-zombies in the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.
As another ThinkProgress survey of the big three news networks discovered last week - debt and deficits are no longer on the lips of the talking heads - now it's jobs. It's great.
Jobs was referenced over 2,700 times - and Wall Street referenced over 2,300 times.
And what about debt? It was mentioned fewer than 400 times.
Jobs - and not debt - are now priority number one - much to the chagrin of Republican strategists.
And it happened in just three months - not because our debt problem was solved - it's not.
And not because our unemployment problem got worse - it hasn't.
But because people took to the streets and changed the narrative - they silenced Jude Wanniski's ghost.
And that's the first step to changing the system - to bringing about a fundamental transformation - you have to change the narrative.
That's what Martin Luther King did - what FDR did - what Lincoln did - what Jefferson did.
They changed what people are talking about.
And Occupy Wall Street has done that, too.
God bless them, every one...
That's The Big Picture.