Plouffe’s sound advice

PLOUFFE’S SOUND ADVICE…. David Plouffe, as President Obama’s campaign manager, earned a strong reputation as a smart, strategic thinker. One would like to think his advice for the party would be taken seriously, especially given his new role as an outside political adviser to the White House.

In a Washington Post op-ed today, Plouffe acknowledges the Democrats’ “challenging election year,” but said the looming disaster can be avoided if “Democrats do what the American people sent them to Washington to do.” To strengthen Dems’ election-year hand, he recommends, among other things:

* Pass a meaningful health insurance reform package without delay. Americans’ health and our nation’s long-term fiscal health depend on it. I know that the short-term politics are bad. It’s a good plan that’s become a demonized caricature. But politically speaking, if we do not pass it, the GOP will continue attacking the plan as if we did anyway, and voters will have no ability to measure its upside. If we do pass it, dozens of protections and benefits take effect this year. Parents won’t have to worry their children will be denied coverage just because they have a preexisting condition. Workers won’t have to worry that their coverage will be dropped because they get sick. Seniors will feel relief from prescription costs. Only if the plan becomes law will the American people see that all the scary things Sarah Palin and others have predicted — such as the so-called death panels — were baseless. We own the bill and the health-care votes. We need to get some of the upside. (P.S.: Health care is a jobs creator.)

* We need to show that we not just are focused on jobs but also create them. Even without a difficult fiscal situation, the government can have only so much direct impact on job creation, on top of the millions of jobs created by the president’s early efforts to restart the economy. There are some terrific ideas that we can implement, from tax credits for small businesses to more incentives for green jobs, but full recovery will happen only when the private sector begins hiring in earnest. That’s why Democrats must create a strong foundation for long-term growth by addressing health care, energy and education reform. We must also show real leadership by passing some politically difficult measures to help stabilize the economy in the short term. Voters are always smarter than they are given credit for. We need to make our case on the economy and jobs — and yes, we can remind voters where Republican policies led us — and if we do, without apology and with force, it will have impact.

* Make sure voters understand what the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act did for the economy. Rarely does a congressional vote or issue lend itself to this kind of powerful localization. If GOP challengers want to run ads criticizing the recovery act as wasteful, Democratic candidates should lift up the police officers, teachers and construction workers in their state or district, those who are protecting our communities, teaching our children and repairing our roads thanks to the Democrats’ leadership. Highlight the small-business owners who have kept their doors open through projects funded by the act.

The recovery act has been stigmatized. We need to paint the real picture, in human terms, of what it meant in 2010. In future elections, it will be clear to all that instead of another Great Depression, Democrats broke the back of the recession with not a single Republican vote in the House. In the long run, this will haunt Republicans, especially since they made the mess. […]

* No bed-wetting. This will be a tough election for our party and for many Republican incumbents as well. Instead of fearing what may happen, let’s prove that we have more than just the brains to govern — that we have the guts to govern. Let’s fight like hell, not because we want to preserve our status, but because we sincerely believe too many everyday Americans will continue to lose if Republicans and special interests win.

Sounds like good advice to me. It seems the preferred alternative — crawl into a fetal position and hope the storm blows over — isn’t a recipe for success.