I am never surprised at how effective
Republican politicians are at using clever words and phrases to
advance their cause by fooling the public. Messaging guru Frank
Luntz has written books on the topic and made millions advising the
GOP how to tar and feather Democratic proposals with negative
references. At the same time, he's a genius at showing his clients
how to use catchy "positive" phrases to fool people into finding
value in proposals they usually don't like.
Want to suggest a reduction in the federal inheritance tax; a cut that will primarily benefit millionaires and billionaires? Call it the "death tax" and rail against how it's destroying longstanding businesses like family farms. What could be more un-American than taking a farm from a family after decades of hard work? Expressing outrage about something very unlikely to happen still makes for a good applause line in an old fashioned "attack big government" stump speech.
This year we have some new phrases. "Millionaires and Billionaires are now known as "job creators." In the Tea Party Republican fantasy world there is never a good time to tax, or increase taxes, on millionaires and billionaires. They won't say that to voters in public. What they will say is "this is the worst of times to be taxing our job creators."
When I hear this I think of former New York City hotel operator Leona Helmsley. Remember her? She was dubbed the Queen of Mean for the way she treated her employees. In 1989 she was charged with income tax evasion. During her trial, a housekeeper testified that she once heard Helmsley say "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes."
That is, like it or not, the message of today's Tea Party Republicans. Ever since taking control of the House in January of this year nearly every single GOP plan has been targeted to benefiting millionaires and billionaires. Oh wait. We can't call them what they are. I forgot. It's "job creators." We can't raise taxes on the job creators. That's the line. Trust me, it's pure baloney.
Another example of a GOP "word game" is how the Republican Tea Party crowd has turned the time-honored practice of closing tax loopholes into a sinister effort to raise taxes. The oil companies are enjoying record profits as we pay close to $4 a gallon for gasoline. Forget that oil filled tankers parked off our coasts make it clear that there is no "supply and demand" imbalance that might spike the price of oil. It's pretty obvious that apart from the nominal impact of the Libyan adventure, most of the spike has been induced by Wall Street Oil speculators and traders.
But, we don't dare take subsidies away from the oil companies who are raking in record profits from the price spike. The fact is we subsidize them with "incentives" that in the real world are simple tax loopholes. Now that the oil companies are making record profits it makes sense to eliminate the subsidies. Certainly this would help reduce deficits. "No way," say the Republicans. Closing loopholes is a tax increase and and this is no time to be raising taxes.
Before the Tea Party madness took root, politicians of both parties actually got elected by proposing the elimination of tax loopholes. Others got elected opposing abusive welfare moms. Show me the Republican ready to eliminate corporate welfare by closing a tax loophole that lets oil companies avoid millions in taxes.
The Republicans have bought the Leona Helmsley philosophy: They don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes. That's the "con" in RepubliCON we have to expose.