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Every time we casually speak of the Ryan budget without including framing language, we miss an opportunity to mold public opinion.  We can all cite facts and figures about the budget, but what really moves public opinion is language that connects to the readers' values.  That's what framing is about - the art of selecting language so that the audience realizes that they already agree with you.

Several months ago, the Frameshop group was formed to experiment with crowd-sourced framing.  Specifically, the idea is that top-down issue framing, which works so well for Republicans, does not and cannot work on our side of the aisle.  Frameshop was created as an experiment to see if issue framing could be done from the bottom up, substituting crowd-sourcing for the focus groups normally used to test candidate frames.  More information can be found in the original post here: Frameshop: An Experiment in Crowd-Sourcing a Progressive Message

For a variety of reasons, we got so far as to introduce the concept but never to actually begin the work.  Starting with the Ryan budget, we now begin...

Remember that this is an experiment, that we do not yet know what will work and what will not. We will figure out much along the way.  But how we start is that the Frameshop group members will pick an issue and develop a number of test frames for that issue.  We then ask the Daily Kos readership to weigh in on the test frames, resulting in a chosen frame and specific language that will hopefully be used by as many as possible.  By picking a single frame and consistent language, the sheer weight of repetition will hopefully drive our language into the broader public discourse.  Well, that is the theory at least.

In this and subsequent Frameshop posts, you will see the following:
1.  An issue and some narrative on why the issue was chosen.
2.  Multiple test frames of the issue, each specifying a target audience, identifying the underlying values to evoke, and specific language which evokes those values in the minds of the target audience.

DKos reader participation is essential to this effort, and we strongly encourage participation in several areas:
1.  Vote in the poll for which frame you find to be most effective at moving the electorate.  Not just which frame you think would be most persuasive to you, but which you think would have the most effect on the largest intended audience.
2.  Add comments which support or criticize any of the test frames.  For each test frame, we will provide a top-level comment to help keep the discussions organized.  Readers are encouraged to add comments on a particular test frame to that frame's comment thread, and to recommend the top-level comment of each frame you favor.  You are free, of course, to add comments anywhere you find appropriate.
3.  Add comments to suggest additional frame candidates.
4.  Add comments related to the process, and where it may be improved.
5.  Follow the Frameshop group to be notified of new postings.
6.  Recommend each Frameshop post so that we gain sufficient front page visibility to gain participants and produce good work product.
7.  If you have a general understanding of framing and would like to help in the crafting of test frame or in any other way, please ask to join the group.

ISSUE:  The Ryan Budget - This will continue to be a central issue in the campaign right through to the election.  Those of us on the left talk about it regularly, but almost always without attaching any language that frames the budget to our favor.  Every time we do that is a missed opportunity.  If we can settle on a single framing with consistent language, and if that language can reach the general electorate, then even Republican references to the Ryan budget will come with our framing attached.  Even though Ryan is the VP candidate and Romney's budget differs (in secret and mysterious ways) from Ryan's budget, framing the Ryan budget helps down-ballot as well.  Nearly every Republican running for re-election voted multiple times for the Ryan budget.  They are all vulnerable.

Note that I am not advocating that every reference to the Ryan budget be framed in a single specific way.  There are many times when discussing a particular aspect of the budget that a different framing is appropriate.  The intent here is to identify a specific frame and language that we can all use when we refer to the budget generically.  That if we mention it in passing ("Romney's budget is almost identical to Ryan's budget."), we do not do so neutrally, but rather attach our framing to it.

It is in those generic circumstances, when we would otherwise refer to the Ryan budget neutrally, that we seek to now add our framing instead.  Here are the candidates:

FRAMING CANDIDATE #1:  Kill Medicare
Target audience(s):  Elderly voters (D and R); the near-elderly (50-64); voters with elderly parents and grandparents
Values to invoke:  Keeping Society's Promises, empathy
Suggested Language:  Ryan's "Kill Medicare" Budget
Commentary - For many elderly, Medicare is what is keeping them alive.  Killing Medicare is like killing them.  This is an effective association on both sides of the aisle.  That society is even thinking about breaking its promise to provide healthcare security to retired Americans is breathtaking, frightening, and highly motivating.
FRAMING CANDIDATE #2:  Increase the deficit
Target audience(s):  Republicans who care about the deficit
Values to invoke:  Spending restraint; frugality
Suggested Language:  Ryan's "debt-raising" budget
Commentary - The idea would be to use a Republican frame to peel away Republican support for Ryan's budget.  It is generally preferable to use our frames rather than theirs since every use of a frame reinforces its value.  But there are times where the best approach is to wedge Republicans from their party and their candidates, which is something best done using their own frames.  Here, we seek to drive a wedge between Republicans for whom the deficit is the top priority, and Republicans for whom repealing ObamaCare is the top priority.
FRAMING CANDIDATE #3:  Bring back pre-existing conditions
Target audience(s):  people without insurance, people at risk of losing insurance
Values to invoke:  fairness, empathy
Suggested Language:  Ryan's "anti-healthcare" budget
Commentary - Under the repeal of ObamaCare that the Ryan budget would implement, Americans with pre-existing conditions that could not qualify for private insurance would once again be denied access to healthcare.  This is one of the most popular provisions in the ACA, and repealing it is very unpopular.
FRAMING CANDIDATE #4:  winner takes all
Target audience(s):  lower and middle class Americans
Values to invoke:  fairness, opportunity
Suggested Language:  Ryan's "winner-takes-all" budget
Commentary - By saying "winner takes all", we are saying that there will be little or nothing left for everyone else.  Most people know that their opportunity has stagnated or gone backwards, and this language connects that feeling back to the Ryan budget and those who voted for it.
Thanks to everyone for participating!

Which of these frames should we adopt when generically referring to the Ryan budget?

56%13 votes
21%5 votes
13%3 votes
8%2 votes

| 23 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Comments on Kill Medicare (6+ / 0-)

    Post any comments supportive or critical of the "Kill Medicare" frame here.

    Welcome to the Peasantry

    by SBucher on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 04:34:31 PM PDT

    •  People have earned Medicare (4+ / 0-)

      Through their work contributions, people earn eligibility for Medicare. Medicare provides an extremely rich and flexible benefit package, as every family with a Medicare-eligible member knows--especially if that person has a serious or chronic illness. Medicare also covers those with disabilities after the first 24 months of their disability, as well as those with critical situations like kidney failure and Lou Gherig's disease--conditions that no typical family could afford treatment for.

      Remind people that Ryan/Romney want to throw people back on the private insurance market for their coverage. No guarantee that the "voucher" would pay the entire premium. Likely, it would not keep up with the premium increases. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act would cost even those current seniors who could keep Medicare--because closure of the doughnut hole would be rolled back; 100 percent coverage of many preventative care services would no longer exist; and the ACA's system for gradually improving healthcare outcomes, eliminating excess profits and fighting fraud and abuse would disappear.

      •  Precisely correct, of course. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        So how do you distill that down into a sufficiently small number of words that it fits between "Ryan" and "budget"?  Hence the suggestion "kill Medicare".

        Welcome to the Peasantry

        by SBucher on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 05:39:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I certianly wouldn't use the term (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        'extremely rich'  in portraying the benefit package.   Flexible, ok.  

        Democrats - We represent America!

        by phonegery on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 05:40:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is an important point that gets lost (3+ / 0-)
        People have earned Medicare through their work contributions, people earn eligibility for Medicare.
        RFKLives did a diary entitled
        They're "earned benefits" not "entitlements"
        It's an important point to counter the Ayn Rand/Paul Ryan mindset that divides the world between producers and parasites.

        Paul Ryan wants to raid $716 billion of our earned benefits, so that he and Mitt Romney can redistribute our money to wealthy people who don't need it and weren't asking for it.

        The choice of our lifetime: Mitt Romney, It Takes A Pillage or President Barack Obama, Forward Together.

        by FiredUpInCA on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 05:47:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, Medicare is earned... (3+ / 0-)

          ... and your arguments are right.  Where I am trying to go with this is that Framing is premised on the assumption that arguments don't generally work to convince people.  They convince US, because we are liberals and we want facts and arguments, but that is not true of the general public.

          So if you assume that those receiving Medicare and those who are close enough in age to be thinking about it already understand on some visceral level that they have earned those benefits, then the words "Kill Medicare" reach them in a way that a carefully crafted argument cannot.

          If we build those words into every reference we make to the Ryan budget, have we not made your argument even more forcefully?

          Welcome to the Peasantry

          by SBucher on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 05:57:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I could be wrong (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheLawnRanger, Lujane

      But because one of the prominent FactCheckers has given cover to Ryan by saying that the Democrats claim about his killing Medicare was the biggest lie of the decade or something, I think it's more effective to say what his plan is, compared to what the Democrats plan is.

      Paul Ryan wants to turn Medicare into coupon care.

      That's more concrete to me than he wants to kill Medicare.

      Nobody wants to see themselves in their golden years, using coupons for medical care.

      The choice of our lifetime: Mitt Romney, It Takes A Pillage or President Barack Obama, Forward Together.

      by FiredUpInCA on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 05:53:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're not wrong. (3+ / 0-)

        Coupons or vouchers, the theme of having to figure out what will work for me now that I'm on Medicare and not being able to just sign-up and be taken care of in my golden years, scares me, and if the rest of my fellow "old-farts" can be shown how bad Ryan budget is for us then we can really roll over them. But if it's too "wonkish" then it'll be a lot harder. This post can really be important!

      •  Ryan's version of Medicare (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FiredUpInCA, Lujane

        "Voucher Care" has been suggested as one way of framing Ryan's plan.

      •  Well, lots to talk about! (3+ / 0-)

        I like coupon care, or more precisely, Couponcare.  If I had thought of it, I may well have included it as one of the test frames.  Nice.

        As for the fact checkers, one of my personal philosophies is that we spend too much energy trying to prove our points to ourselves before making them. If we have something that is colorably true, then we should go with it.  Any time they spend refuting it is time they are spending losing the debate.

        Do we have a clorably true claim that they are killing Medicare?  Yes.  I think they have been trying to kill it since it was enacted.  Having decided that they cannot kill it all at once, they are now trying to kill it by slowly bleeding it to death.  Every person they take off of Medicare is another bleeding cut.  If they were honest enough to come clean with their motivation, we would ot have to spell it out for the public.

        Your arguments are right.  And if you are engaged in a discussion where you have the opportunity to make them, by all means do so.  The problem I was trying to solve was what can we do during a casual mention of the Ryan budget to frame the issue to our advantage.  Implicit in this problem is that you do not get to make an argument.  If I tell my neighbor that the Ryan budget is essentially identical to the Romney budget, there is no space into which I can insert an actual argument.  But I can insert a word or two.  "Kill Medicare" seems to me to be a good possibility.

        Welcome to the Peasantry

        by SBucher on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 06:19:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The main audience for the Kill Medicare message (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          have already been convinced that it's the Democrats that are dedicated to kill Medicare, so they can finance Obamacare.

          In the 2006 midterm election, seniors split their vote evenly between House Democrats and Republicans. This time, they went for Republicans by a twenty-one-point margin.
          Read more

          Mind you, this is the same group that had received $250 checks from the Obama administration, to help fill the donut hole created by Republicans when they passed Medicare D.

          Apparently seniors, by and large--definitely not all--still have a trust issue with the President and Democrats.

          Seniors, those aged 65 and older, favor Romney, 53 percent to 38 percent, better than McCain's 8-point win among this group four years ago.

          So I'm guessing they'd be resistant to Democrats claims about Republicans wanting to kill Medicare. For some reason they don't know that they don't know the Republicans plans for Medicare, or are mesmerized by Paul Ryan's baby blues, but they don't seem to be moving our way.

          So I think they need to be gently walked through the facts that the Republicans, despite their effective marketing, are not middle-class and low-income seniors friends:

          "Republicans want to tweak Medicare again. We all remember what happened they messed with it the last time. Medicare was working fine and then they promised they would make it better with Medicare D.

          You remember what happened? All of a sudden, seniors had to start choosing between whether to pay for medication or cut back on groceries. That never happened before the Republicans messed with it.

          Now they want to mess with Medicare again, so they can pay for tax breaks. How much is it going to cost seniors this time?

          I guarantee you Paul Ryan's mom is not going give his mom coupons for her medical care. Who does this kid think he is messing with benefits that people have earned over a lifetime?"

          The choice of our lifetime: Mitt Romney, It Takes A Pillage or President Barack Obama, Forward Together.

          by FiredUpInCA on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 06:46:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  One of the interesting things I saw... (3+ / 0-)

            ...was that when "kill Medicare" was tested, people thought it was so crazy that it could not be true.  This is definitely a risk of this approach, that we pick a great frame only to find that republican behavior is so outrageous that no one believes it.

            Personally, I think that more repetition makes it more believable.  Eventually, it should sink in, no?

            Welcome to the Peasantry

            by SBucher on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 07:01:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Ryan included the same cut in his plan (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FiredUpInCA, Lujane

            I think it was cool how Clinton made that point.  

            They convinced the seniors that Obama had cut all this money out of MediCare, then turn around and vote to turn it into a VoucherCare program with the same cut.  Fool me once ... whatever Bush said.

  •  Comments on Increase the deficit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Post any comments supportive or critical of the "Increase the deficit" frame here.

    Welcome to the Peasantry

    by SBucher on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 04:35:36 PM PDT

    •  Radical deficit raising budget (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Love the overall idea. I think this frame is the least likely to appear on its own. I like the wedge, and I think bringing all of the sensible Republicans into the Democratic fold can give us several more elections and turn the Republican Party into the Tea Party.

      Consumption is not the answer.

      by Lexpression on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 07:20:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Comments on Pre-existing conditions (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FiredUpInCA, Lujane

    Post any comments supportive or critical of the "Pre-existing Conditions (anti-healthcare)" frame here.

    Welcome to the Peasantry

    by SBucher on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 04:36:58 PM PDT

    •  He wants to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      bring back the bad old days of banning or punishing kids and adults with pre-existing conditions. Where are they going to go? Just because his plan ignores them does not mean that they or their pre-existing condition goes away.

      The choice of our lifetime: Mitt Romney, It Takes A Pillage or President Barack Obama, Forward Together.

      by FiredUpInCA on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 05:57:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right. I think most people know... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FiredUpInCA, Lujane

        ...someone with pre-existing conditions who would be adversely affected by this.  And for that reason, it becomes a powerful motivator.  My problem is how do we capture that sentiment in a couple of words?  I'm not entirely sure that "anti-healthcare" is necessarily the best, but that is why this is a group blog.  We need as much input as we can get!

        Welcome to the Peasantry

        by SBucher on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 06:33:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Paul Ryans budget (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          pretends that those with pre-existing illness, simply don't exist.

          Privatei nsurance companies pretended that they don't exist and now they're more progressive than Paul Ryan. Obamacare finally got private insurance companies to see kids and adults with pre-existing illness and cover them, and Paul Ryan wants to lock them back up in a basement.

          The choice of our lifetime: Mitt Romney, It Takes A Pillage or President Barack Obama, Forward Together.

          by FiredUpInCA on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 06:59:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Pre-existing conditions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is something many people have personally experienced and can relate to.

    •  How about (0+ / 0-)

      The Ryan plan... Don't get sick, and if you do, Die Quickly.

      •  Die Quickly (0+ / 0-)

        I laughed out loud at yours.  I really think we need to inject more humor into the campaign.  I think people are immediately drawn to a message that makes them laugh----they appreciate the creativity, and the chance to smile.  Plus it makes the message more memorable.

  •  Comments on Winner Takes All (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Post any comments supportive or critical of the "Winner Takes All" frame here.

    Welcome to the Peasantry

    by SBucher on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 04:37:51 PM PDT

    •  Might have voted for this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      if it was something more like "the middle class loses -  again" that ties back to the 2000's and how the past promises of prosperity for all (trickle down) really meant prosperity for the already prosperous.

      •  winner takes all (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        This was a phrase used by Clinton in his speech at the convention.  The idea here would be to have a phrase that captures the spirit of the budget------rather than focusing on a single provision of the budget.  No single part of the budget can adequately represent the damage it will do as a whole.  The sum is greater, or in this case worse, than the sum of the parts.

      •  the middle class loses again (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I like your alternative.  Brevity is a premium for this sort of thing.  Ideas for shortening?

        •  not really (0+ / 0-)

          middle class should be focus. It is much easier and more effective to say what will happen to the target audience (the middle class loses) than what will happen to the top incomes (winning).

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