It was ostensibly the agenda for the GOP after their losses in 2008, and it's been the agenda for the Senate and Obama since the GOP swept the House in 2010.
In this campaign, it makes sense for the GOP to talk about its agenda (tax reform, spending cuts, tax cuts, defense buildup, etc.) because they might actually get to enact this agenda. For the Dems, they have so little chance of displacing the House GOP that it hardly matters what their agenda is. If Dems talk non-stop about what they're going to do, they sound delusional. So they should be talking about what GOP plans they're going to stop.
Obama is already starting this. But it should be a centerpiece. They can line up what the GOP says it's going to do, and give the plans a critique. The GOP say they'll do 'A,' but really you'll get 'B' and 'B' has these negative consequences. The GOP has been doing a great critique on the Dems for years--that's what "tax-and-spend" is.
Frankly, the Dems can make a good case not to trust the GOP to do tax reform. If the environment is a high priority for you, you already don't trust the GOP on pollution regulation. If you depend on some government program or you're a federal employee (insert shout out to a family member), you probably don't trust how the GOP will trim (slash) spending.
For those concerned about Social Security and Medicare, it's not as clear-cut. Both the Dems and GOP are trying to trim the growth of the programs, particularly Medicare, so either or both can arouse suspicion. Since the GOP are going to attack the method the Dems are using to trim Medicare, the Dems might as well attack the GOP plans.
One other terribly important campaign point for the Dems--they can say that they are open to negotiating. That's a message not coming from the GOP. Of course that message can demoralize the Dem base, but if they remind their base what an unfettered GOP will do, the base should turn out.
I'd give the same advice about negotiating to the GOP, but their position has been pretty clear: our way or the highway. I doubt they'll be making any conciliatory noises unless they're way down in opinion polling or the election results split governing power between the parties (my preferred government configuration in any case).
So, to recap, my advice to Dems is:
- Paint a believable but wretched picture of what the unfettered GOP will do.
- Emphasize that you can stop that without going crazy in the other direction.
- Make reasonable noises about negotiating, which is what the country will need in the most likely outcome from the election.
Will they try it? Do you think it will work? It'll take a miracle.