B²: Puerto Rico

Thanks to Puerto Rico’s fiscal mess, Washington continues to live La Vida Loca at $19 trillion in debt.

On Thursday, President Obama signed a bill to bail out the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. And on Friday, Puerto Rico defaulted.

With so many large numbers and wonky terms floating around, messaging on this debate might cue a snooze fest. Sad! But it’s important to talk about the default and the U.S. government’s response as it’s no longer Puerto Rico’s problem – it’s now the problem of every American family.

So, what’s the best way to communicate why this bill matters to every voter?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “Isn’t the bipartisan bill that President Obama signed to bail out Puerto Rico something we owe them as a U.S. territory?”

B²: “As Washington steps in to bail out Puerto Rico, states like CA, NJ, and IL will look for the same favor. With the U.S. at $19 trillion in debt…<insert talking point>…”

Wherever you take the conversation next, break down the impact this bill has on the average American family. At $19 trillion in U.S. debt, bailing out Puerto Rico not only makes that (already) astounding number larger, but sets a dangerous precedent that could have dire consequences. If Washington ignored the rules to help Puerto Rico, what’s to stop them from opening the wallet for other states that have failed to spend within their means?

The issue is no joke, and this new law only continues to grow our debt.

B² the Debt Limit. Go on Offense.

DC and Deadlines could be synonymous. The latest target date approaching is the debt ceiling, which we hit on March 16th.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi used catastrophic language Friday, saying, “Failure to act would have savage impacts on American families.”

That fear mongering, combined with the recent DHS shutdown drama, means the media are ready to pounce. The trap? Spending your media time answering the questions framed by the Obama Administration on default and shutdown instead of addressing the larger problem of our nation’s debt.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “We hit the debt ceiling on March 16th. This means the possibility of shutting down the government and defaulting on our debt, which could be disastrous to our economy. Do you support raising the debt ceiling?”

A: “Congress will do its job, and the Administration already has the tools it needs. But we can’t keep putting a band-aid on a cancer. If we truly want to avoid hitting the debt ceiling we must reform a government that spends too much, and all against future generations. And we can start by <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the narrative next, don’t let Administration talking points box you in, or impel you to prove a negative about default and shutdown. Take a cue from the Obama communicators. Go on offense and call out Lucy’s political football for what it is – a smokescreen to hide how we climbed to a national debt of more than $18 trillion.  Then, lay out the pathway back.