Continuing with our version of Right Wing Wordsmith Frank Luntz's "Handbooks," we're taking control of defining our own positions on the following phrases instead of letting the Right continue to tell the public what we're allegedly "for" with false frames. If you haven't seen it yet, you should read Five Words And Phrases Democrats Should Never Say Again and start replacing those words with the recommended frames.
Are we trying to deceive Americans with different terminology in the way that Luntz manufactures his terms? In fact we're doing the exact opposite. The frames the Right creates are false imagery designed to scare people away from progressive proposals and policies. The following are truthful re-worded definitions of existing policies that better illustrate the Progressive ideology.
1. Let's get rid of the incendiary term, "Regulations,"
And start calling them "Public Protection Policies."
Do you drive a car? There are rules by which you must operate your vehicle for the protection of everyone on the roads around you. Do you lobby the government to reduce the number of rules you have to follow so you can be free from government intervention and drive however you please, at whatever speed you please, as intoxicated as you please?
Do you hunt, or know someone who does? There are rules by which you must use your firearms for the protection of everyone around you so they don't get shot and killed. Do you lobby the government to elminate the rules so you can go into any old woods you want, shoot at any old thing that moves, and kill whatever you please, even if it's the neighbors' kids playing in the creek for a little fun?
Do you play a sport or just enjoy watching one? There are rules by which you and/or the players must abide to prevent serious injury to opponents or even teammates. Do you lobby the leagues to get rid of the rules, so football players can jam their cleats into the other guy's shins when he's down, basketball players can intentionally elbow the defense in the face with force, or baseball players can swing their bats at the first baseman's head?
Of course you don't.
You don't because a) you recognize the importance of rules that protect people from serious injury or even death, and b) because it's common sense to have rules that protect people from serious injury or even death when they're doing something that might otherwise be dangerous to those around them. You wouldn't sign your child up for No-Rules Little League and just pray they don't come home with their head bashed in!
So isn't it kind of ridiculous that businesses should expect the government to let them drive around intoxicated, shoot willy-nilly into the woods, and swing bats at our heads for the sake of saving a little money and paperwork?
Progressives and Democrats don't want to choke off business' ability to be profitable. If that were really the end goal, that would be strange indeed, seeing as how we'd never be able to collect any income taxes from businesses then! Democratic congresspeople don't wake up with glee every day, rubbing their hands together in anticipation of how they can make life suck even more for businesses in this country.
But congress does have a sworn, constitutional duty to enact laws and set policies that "provide for the General Welfare of the United States"; and the protection and safety of the American people not to be at the mercy of unhindered business practices that can cause harm, up to and including death is part of that duty. These "regulations" are nothing more than Public Protection Policies.
Public Protection Policies attempt to keep businesses from polluting our drinking water, stripping and destroying our land, poisoning the air we breathe, taking unfair advantage of unsuspecting consumers, depleting our natural resources or our natural food stocks, putting dangerous drugs on the market, etc. It's hard to imagine anyone really objecting to these goals.
But you will be hearing Republicans talking about President Obama erupting with a "tsunami" of new "job-killing" regulations, in an effort to sway voters to the idea that it's better to let businesses decide for themselves if they want to go to the trouble to ensure the public is safe and that they don't leave the environment in worse condition than when they found it, all because of some paperwork or to save three one-hundredths of a percent of the total economy. They will be telling people that businesses will stop hiring people because they are "afraid" of the "uncertainty" of these rules.
Have you ever known a businessman or woman who has needed to bring on more help to make their company more profitable, but made the bizarre decision not to hire anyone because they were afraid of a rule they might have to follow? Have you ever heard of anything more absurd when you think about it? And guess what? It's absurd when even small business owners themselves think about it!
A new poll reveals that most small business owners do not list regulations as a top concern or barrier to their businesses; in fact, many respondents view regulations as a way to level the playing field with larger companies.
Only 14 percent of small business owners cited government regulations as their top concern. Thirty-four percent, meanwhile, considered "weak customer demand" the biggest problem facing their businesses.
"Despite the heated rhetoric, regulations simply aren’t small businesses' top concern," said John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of Small Business Majority. "Small businesses can be the jobs engine we need to jumpstart the economy, but not if legislators are focusing on something that isn't their top problem. Policymakers should listen to what real small businesses are saying and act accordingly."
So don't let Republicans bamboozle you, your family, or your friends into thinking that "regulations" are a hindrance to business or a barrier to job creation, because it simply isn't true.
Public Protection Policies exist for citizens' protection as well as that of small businesses who need to compete against larger corporations! Tell people that and they will come to understand.
And if you want a few factoids to slip into the mix about President Obama's record on Public Protection Policies, here's an article from Bloomberg explaining how President Obama has a better record in this arena than either Bush president. Ahem.
2. Stop calling it the "Death tax" (RW frame!) or "Estate Tax"
And call it what it is: An Inheritance Income Tax.
There is this silly notion that if one has to pay income tax on money they inherit from their parents, that the money's somehow being taxed twice and therefore this tax is inherently "unfair."
Money always gets taxed over and over and over as it changes hands. I pay taxes on the income I receive from working. I spend it on stuff. The merchants who sell me that stuff pay income taxes on that money when they get it (allegedly). They use some of that money to pay their employees and they then pay income taxes on it, too.
The common denominator: When you get it, it's income, and you get taxed on it.
It doesn't matter one single bit who paid taxes on it before you. When you get money from work, investments, large gifts, or large inheritances, it's income to you, and you have to pay income taxes on it.
That's actually a fairly reasonable proposition in a society that survives on income generated through taxation.
But the super wealthy in this country have spent decades convincing the average wage-earning American that their money is special somehow. That it shouldn't be subject to the same laws of taxation as all other people's money. Their heirs should be allowed to get income from their parents, and because it came from their parents, and not an employer or a bank, it should be exempt. I'm not kidding! They really say that! Stop laughing; this is serious business.
And as of right now, they've mostly gotten their way. Super wealthy people can make their children super super wealthy to the tune of $10.24 million dollars and up ... tax free! That's right; you cannot earn $20,000 without being taxed on it, but the children of the mega rich in this country can receive millions and millions and millions of dollars from their parents and owe exactly zero dollars and zero cents to the country that made it possible for them to have that kind of money in the first place.
Why should rich people's money be more special than the average person's money? How does that make any sense? But to hear them tell it, President Obama has declared war on rich folks. War, people. War. Because he thinks heirs should have their income taxed just like working people have their income taxed, and wants to exempt only the first 3.5 million dollars per parent ($7 million total). I can't think of a reason why any of it should go untaxed, but apparently if you think seven million dollars is a substantial enough amount to receive as income without paying any taxes on it, you're a war-monger who hates rich people. You see how ridiculous that sounds, right?
Here's what Republican President Teddy Roosevelt had to say about income taxes in general, and inheritance taxes specifically, in a speech titled, The New Nationalism:
Our country - this great Republic - means nothing unless it means the triumph of a real democracy, the triumph of popular government, and, in the long run, of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him. ... The duty of Congress is to provide a method by which the interest of the whole people shall be all that receives consideration. ... We grudge no man a fortune which represents his own power and sagacity, when exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows. ...
No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar's worth of service rendered - not gambling in stocks, but service rendered. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective - a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate. ...
So start calling this what it is: an inheritance income tax. Because it's income. And there's no good reason in the world that wealthy heirs should get out of paying taxes on it just because they were lucky enough to be born to super rich parents unlike the rest of us.