Raising the Debt Limit: Key Points for the Final Week

We just want to underscore recommendations that we offered earlier on strongest messaging in the debt-ceiling debate – both for independent swing voters and the broad progressive base.

These points move the needle. In this e-alert, we will only highlight what works and for whom.

Most Important Point: the government will not be able to pay men and women in uniform and the elderly will not see their Social Security checks. 

By far, our best overall message—among both base and swing groups is one that focuses on con-sequences and specifically on the threat to entitlements and military pay. This message says that Social Security checks will bounce and public employees and the military will not get paid. In regression analysis, this message really drove changes on which party is better on the economy. Emphasizing the consequences of default has the biggest impact with swing groups, persuadable voters, and marginal Democrats. 

“Republicans’ threat to not raise the debt limit is no way to negotiate the budget. If the government defaults on its debt, it will mean that we will not be able to pay government employees, including military men and women, and the elderly will see their Social Security checks bounce.”

Also Important Point: this will cause an economic crisis that threatens Medicare through the back door.

Critically, this emphasis the looming economic crisis and the backdoor effort to end Medicare. This message effective swing groups, including independents, rural voters, the broad progressive base.

It says: “If the debt limit is not raised, we would face an economic crisis and drastic cuts in vital services.  That is not responsible, but Republicans are threatening a crisis over raising the debt limit to get me to agree behind closed doors to steep cuts in Medicare, services to seniors, and food safety inspections. I refuse to play that political game.”

Final Point for the Progressive Base: Republicans are using this crisis to pass their plan to end Medicare. 

The power of this message is the deep intensity among Democrats, yet it re-enforces the other points that reach independents. Its strongest targets are all Democratic base voter, women, minorities, unmarried women, non-white voters, and young people.

 “We are committed to serious deficit reduction. My plan reduces the deficit by 4 trillion dollars and eliminates old programs and protects programs for the future, like education, technology, and Medicare. But Republicans are using the threat of a crisis to force their plan to end Medicare and slash help for seniors, while cutting taxes for millionaires. I won’t agree to that.”

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