Today, the RNC sent out their annual “isn’t this terrible” tax day press release decrying big government excesses and calling for reform. Take a look:
“Today is Tax Day, our annual reminder of how much of our hard-earned money is sent to Washington, DC, and spent recklessly by a bloated federal government. And now, ObamaCare has made Tax Day even more complicated for American families,” said Chairman Priebus.
“With Hillary Clinton running for president, Americans should realize that future Tax Days will be even more painful if she’s elected. Clinton and her party want to grow government and spend more, and that means they want to tax you more.
“If you want to keep less of what you earn, then Hillary Clinton is your candidate. But if you want the government to spend your money more carefully and let you keep more of what you earn, then the Republican Party is on your side. Even if we don’t agree on everything, you can agree with the Republican Party on this principle: government should use our money more responsibly and respectfully.”
There’s also this:
It’s a nice statement, and a sharp-looking graphic. I’d be proud to post it as part of a digital mini-campaign about taxes. But here’s the problem.
When it comes to talking about taxes, we need to start offering the “why” alongside the “what.” The reason is that, for all of their flaws, the Democrats are incredibly adept at using slick messaging techniques to explain away their tendency to spend more money than they’re taking in.
“But Amy,” you say, “this is common sense!” My response is that it should be common sense, but when it comes to politics, it’s never safe to assume that the people you’re trying to talk to will understand what’s motivating your half of the discussion. Dems have the faux-compassionate edge on us because, what Republicans try to “cut,” Democrats can then “regift” in the form of some new restoration of an “essential government program.”
In a word, their position—to spend, spend, spend—is much easier than ours. Fiscal responsibility is hard, and it’s even harder to talk about it without sounding like a puritan.
Take, for example, March’s big budget debate. Senate Democrats voted for almost $800 billion (BILLION) in tax increases. Here’s how the WSJ wrote about it:
“The Senate on Tuesday rejected a Democratic plan to spend almost $500 billion on infrastructure using money raised by corporate tax increases, in a vote that displayed the sharp partisan divide over fiscal policy. … It would have added about $448 billion in direct federal spending over six years, and another $30 billion in funds for a national infrastructure bank and other methods of leveraging private-sector spending.”
Republicans REJECTED a plan to improve our crappy roads and invest in the private sector! Jerks.
Or this, in reference to the Sanders Amendment, which proposed almost $500 billion in new spending:
“The amendment, offered by Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), called for $478 billion in new spending over six years but without increasing the deficit.”
Wait, we can spend more money without going further into debt? Sounds like a dream scenario to anyone not really thinking about it.
Al Franken’s $89 billion tax increase sounds like a lot of money…but he had to do it because Republicans took our Pell Grants away.
Tammy Baldwin wants to raise taxes on rich people by $72 billion, which seems unfair…but if we say yes, everyone gets free community college!
I mentioned above that people “aren’t really thinking about it,” which seems like a disgusting frame of mind I’m sure to anyone reading this blog on a regular basis, but its the reality of the situation. There’s a reason so many college students rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt, or why it’s so easy to spend juuuuuust a smidge too much after you get that tax refund in the mail. The reason is that, when the carrot of stuff “you can afford” is dangled in front of your face, it takes a pretty strong internal argument to turn away from the carrot and keep clipping coupons for your weekly trip to the Wal-Mart.
The RNC’s messaging today does a great job reaching out to conservatives who already understand this stuff, but it doesn’t really do much when it comes to grabbing the new group of individuals just starting to understand what “billions” of dollars really means. The Tax Code has 4,000,000 words, but isn’t the tax code supposed to be complicated? At least thorough—and 4,000,000 words seems pretty thorough.
The word count is not the outrage. What the word count allows is the outrage—and we’re whiffing that point.
This Tax Day, don’t feel put upon if someone you’re talking to about “big government” doesn’t get it yet—or even worse, doesn’t feel outraged when you start throwing around numbers in the billions of dollars. From the outside, this stuff is abstract; it’s funny money being tossed around by people in suits that eventually translates to a new road or lower copay (I joke!) If the connection between higher corporate taxes and paying more for a box of pasta at the grocery store hasn’t sunk in yet, don’t throw your arms in the air—explain it.
Conservatives are in the right when it comes to lower taxes and less spending—it’s time for the messaging to reflect that point.DONATE
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