This was a very difficult debate to watch. It should however be instructive to those attempting to understand why America is so misinformed and illustrates how misinformation is allowed to mask truth.
Before the exchange between the two politicians, the following Poppy Harlow story ran. Ann Valdez was living the multigenerational cycle of poverty. She did not think that the war on poverty was successful. No one in her condition would.
The question on the table for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) from CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer was simple: He asked what both of them would do about the issue of income inequality.
Frank Luntz would be proud of Michele Bachmann. She proved that she is master of the difficult art of effective obfuscation. Many view Bachmann as uninformed or not that bright. That is not the case at all. It takes a high degree of intelligence to take a story like Anne Valdez and make it a story solvable by the same ideology that is causal.
Please read below the fold for more on this story.
Bachmann concluded that Anne Valdez did not want welfare, she wanted a job. That is a true statement. However, her implication was that the welfare itself was the cause of her economic state and her poverty. She then immediately segued into re-framing the question. “It isn’t income inequality,” she said. “It is income opportunity. We need growth. We need prosperity. Because a job is what she wants. That’s the dignity that she needs and the opportunity for a way out.” That phrasing was perfect.
Before Sanders could answer, Blitzer modified the question about education as he asked if Sanders had a problem with Bachmann’s answer. There was no entry for Sanders to make the argument that the policies Bachmann and her party supported was the ultimate cause of America’s income inequality and poverty. Sanders came off a bit bumbling.
Blitzer proved to be a poor and Right-biased moderator in the exchange. Bachmann continuously interrupted Sanders and continuously talked over him. At one time after her interruption, Blitzer stopped Sanders from re-interrupting her.
This exchange should be studied. It should be used to train politicians on how to avoid failing to get their point across. It should also be used to teach them how effective an assault on truth is when clever phraseology is used.
Bachmann says that growth is how we get people out of poverty. But there has been growth in the American economy. The problem is that 95 percent of the income gains went to the top 1 percent. That is how income inequality is exacerbated and how poverty remains systemic.
Bachmann continued the fallacy of lower taxes creating more jobs. Blitzer then corroborated the statement. Bachmann even turned one of Sander’s best points in her favor with another truth-sounding fallacy. Sanders stated the fact that Scandinavian countries like Norway and Denmark hold health care as a right. They keep their poverty rates very low. Bachmann first called them socialists. When Sanders expressed the positive state of their economy, she immediately morphed into their capitalist nature on energy. She also accused current Obama policy as being anti-energy.
A few weeks ago I wrote a piece titled “Not A Winning Message: War On Poverty, Income Inequality, And Wealth Disparity.” Bachmann proved exactly why that is the case. It is true that one can have all the numbers to prove the real causes of poverty, income inequality, and wealth disparity. Unfortunately for the average person, it means little. They want a job. They want food on the table. They want their kids to have a college education. They want security. If the rich’s income and wealth growth rate is larger than the growth rate of the economy, it’s a transfer of wealth from the poor and the middle class to the rich. The problem is that concept resonates to just a few.
Bachmann continued to keep Sanders off message by interrupting him, with ample help from Blitzer. In this debate, truth took a beating.