Issue:  Economic Justice

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War of Wealth lithograph c 1895

"Debt is the worst poverty."
—Thomas Fuller

A Moral Economy, by Fred Block, Longview Institute, appearing in
The Nation

One America

What The President's Budget Shows
About The Administration's Priorities
, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Reframing the Political Battle: Market Fundamentalism vs. Moral Economy

What's the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Franks

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins

The Right's Moral Trouble from the Longview Institute

Talking Union by Pete Seeger (absolutely a must-hear, terrific!  Real audio only)


George Bush likes to talk about an "Ownership Society."

We already have one: CEO's with jets; Power companies that get their way even if the health of children and pregnant women suffer. Oil companies who write our energy policy. George Bush's so-called "Ownership Society" is a secret society that rewards the wealthiest and shuts out those who work hard every day.

—John Edwards

Powerhouse Mechanic at work, 1920

A Moral Economy

Position statement:  Democrats believe in a fair tax system and moral economy that serves every American and not just the elite few. 

We reap the benefits of our tax investment in America with good schools, good roads, crime prevention, a strong military, support of our veterans, medical breakthroughs and help for our most vulnerable citizens. Democrats are responsible money managers who know how to balance a budget and make government efficient. We believe that a moral economy and a strong America are possible only when every American is given a level playing field upon which to succeed.  We believe that compassion and decency is moral and economic strength; and therefore, we create programs to advance the most vulnerable in our society. 

By contrast, Republicans believe that all government social programs should be eliminated.

Programs that pave the way for increased profits to private corporations, including tax cuts in time of war and tax loopholes, are considered moral.  They are fully in charge right now of every branch of government, successfully changing our economy from people-first to profits-first.  The radical Republicans want a fundamental change in our economy from democratic capitalism to government-sponsored corporatism.  Only when our government is bankrupt and the American people are dependent on corporations for all their needs, will the radical Republicans have achieved their goals.

Frame using these values:



  • Fairness

  • Security

  • Responsibility

  • Protection

  • Accountability

  • Compassion

Repeat these ready-made frames:  "Moral Economy"; "Birth Tax" or "Baby Tax" (referring to the soaring deficit);
Use these themes:  A strong middle class makes a strong America"; A baby should be born with a "Clean slate" (balanced budget) or a "Trust Fund" (budget surplus); $36,000 "Birth Tax" for every child born in America today; "Instant Debt" for babies born in America; "Borrowing Binge";
Reframe using these concepts:  "Middle Class Squeeze"; America going bankrupt; 'Ownership Society' means you own all the risk. If trouble comes along, you're on your own!; 'Ownership Society' means that the Republicans own YOU. 
Contrast using these words:  "Poverty President"; "Robber Baron Republicans"; "Credit Card Republicans"; "Borrow and Spend Republicans"; "Red Ink Republicans"; "Anti-Consumer President"; Irresponsible; Reckless; Callous;
Avoid repeating these words:  "tax relief"
Know the tools in the radical Republican tool chest:

1.  The Radical Republican Manifesto: The Integration of Theory and Practice: A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement by Eric Heubeck;

2.  Frank Luntz Republican Playbook — Searchable Text-Version

3. "14 Words Never to Use"


Quick facts*: 


Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Facts on Fair Taxation, Citizens for Tax Justice -excellent source for non-partisan facts

Congressional Budget Office

Government Accountability Office



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