Skip to main content

View Diary: Mr. President, This Is How You Should Frame The Tax Cut Issue (In Two Clear Sentences) * UPDATED * (144 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Sorry, but it doesn't work for me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster, cardinal
    Under my plan, everyone, including millionaires, gets a tax cut on their first $250,000 in income.
    Already I can't make any sense of it. "A tax cut on their first $250K" -- what does that mean? Doesn't the millionaire make a million, which is more than 250K? Doesn't he just pay tax on the million? What could it mean to get a tax cut on some portion of your income, and then something else happens to the rest of it?

    Obviously the suggested framing is based on how tax rates are structured, but I very much doubt that many people think of taxes that way. But rather: If I make $249K, then I pay tax on the $249K, which amounts to X% of my income. If I make a million, then I pay tax on the million, which amounts to Y%. X% and Y% are not some kind of composition of tax rates on segments of my income; they're just X% and Y% of my net income, and that's that. Maybe, in fact, the final tax rate does indeed result from a kind of structuring, but I think most people understand taxes just in terms of the bottom line.

    More politically, I think the suggested two sentences, for one thing, may sound a little slippery. A fair response would be: "Are millionaires going to have to pay more tax, or aren't they?" If fact, the answer is yes they will, and so the framing, fairly or not, may sound like it was trying to mislead.

    Most importantly in my opinion, this a defensive tone about taxes on the wealthy that I wish Democrats would just dispense with, altogether, once and for all. My framing would be: The Bush tax cuts on the very wealthy are not going to continue, and we Democrats stand by that. They're going to end because they were deeply and historically unfair, because they worsen the deficit, and because they're bad for the country.

    If we keep talking about these things as if they're loser arguments that need to be painstakingly explained, then they will be loser arguments.

    I don't think that this is a loser position in 2012. The financial crisis, OWS, and God help us, Mitt Romney set the stage for expiring the upper-income tax cuts as a broadly popular policy. Democrats and Obama campaigned forthrightly on that all year long, and decisively won the election.

    Let Boehner and McConnell bark themselves into corners with long-winded explanations of why we shouldn't do this. We should say: We're gonna do this, and if they're going block and obfuscate again, then it's on them. And we should keep on saying it, hanging it around their necks from now until 2014 and 2016, when it's time for them to take a few more sucker punches.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    by Buckeye Hamburger on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 01:08:09 PM PST

    •  But your way doesn't explain how brackets work (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Buckeye Hamburger, Argyrios, judy99

      which is the whole point of the frame.

      In one sense, if you make $1million you pay $Y and if you make only $250k you make $X.  But here's what's really happening:

      $250k earner pays A% on the $250k, for a total of $X.

      $1million earner pays A% on the first $250k earned and another B% on the next $750 earned, for a total of $Y.

      So if you apply a tax cut to the first $250, it helps EVERYONE with taxable income.

      But if you apply a tax cut to the amount over $250k, say reducing the rate on that income to A% from the higher rate of B%, you are giving more dollars in tax cuts to the person making $1million.

      I think people generally understand that.

      But the framing is key to making people think that this is UNFAIR, because it is something that ONLY the rich get - it doesn't apply to them.  That is the key to framing to me, to get people to have a positive emotional connection to your position.

      •  Understood (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny wurster

        And if Barack Obama is giving an interview for a newspaper or 60 Minutes, where he can take the time for the explanation, that he could do worse that say just what you said in your comment, word for word.

        But as I understand the point of the framing, the goal is to come up with something that is simple and sound-bite-sized -- two clear sentences. In that case, I wouldn't go for the explanation of tax brackets at all.

        For one thing, because the suggestion at the top of the diary, as stated, is IMO too hard to understand, unless you either already know about how tax brackets work, or you get the fuller explanation to go along with it.

        (Actually, I think the third to fifth paragraphs of your comment get the point across pretty well, and that was three sentences. But then they have a lot of numbers and variables and percent signs in them.)

        In my view, if you're going for the short, two-sentence version, trying to make an emotional connection, then the best expression focuses on the inequity of the current tax system. Especially because this is already a widely understood and popular position, validated by the election, and not in need of much explanation.

        Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

        by Buckeye Hamburger on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 01:36:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  See my comment a few above: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chira2, PinHole
          The typical way the policy is supported by Dems is that rich people have to PAY MORE.

          My frame turns that around and says that rich people shouldn't GET CUTS THAT OTHER PEOPLE DON'T GET.

          Instead of taking money from the wealthy, the policy will level the playing field and give everyone the same thing.

          To me, this explains why an extra tax cut for people making over $250,000 is UNFAIR.  But I think it helps to explain that you're not screwing over the rich, that they're getting the same tax cut everyone else is, they're just not getting something extra that everyone else is NOT getting.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site