“Tax breaks for the wealthy!”
It sounds so scandalous to hear those five words strung together in that order- or at least it’s supposed to sound that way. And the slogan belongs on the “greatest hits” list of the current crop of feelings-based phrases from Washington politicians.
As President Obama and members of Congress struggle to convince us that they are trustworthy on economic and fiscal policy, thoughtful Americans should be paying close attention. Despite our dire need for real economic solutions, Washington is stuck in “emotions mode” as the rhetoric of the politicians is simply intended to make us feel good about them, and badly about their opponents.
If we’re going to get past the politics and arrive at solutions, we the people will first need to reject the feelings-based rhetoric and begin demanding facts. This means that we need to become more well-versed in facts ourselves, and begin challenging the politicians with facts (not just shouting and “emoting” at them). One of the most challenging ways to respond to the comments of a politician is to simply ask them, “What do you mean by that?”
Think about it. When President Obama or Senator Harry Reid or Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi fuss about “tax breaks for the wealthy,” it engenders feelings of envy and anger towards people who possess more wealth than us (isn’t that the vague way in which they define “rich” – someone who has more than me?) and it suggests that the rich are getting away with something naughty.
But when politicians say “tax breaks for the wealthy,” what if we were to ask, “How are you defining “break?’ Somebody is allegedly getting a “break,” but from what are they getting a break?
The fact is that the U.S. Congress and former President Bush all voted to reduce federal income tax rates back in 2001. The law is the law, and the law that stipulates our current taxation rates has been in place for slightly over a decade. Perhaps it make sense to say that rich people are getting a “break” from the taxation rates of the 1990’s, but this is also true of middle and lower income earners as well.
And not only have we all been given a “break” from the 90’s taxation rates – the law has been repeatedly reinstated by the President and the Congress over the past decade, and most recently got approved by President Obama and the democratically controlled House and Senate a year ago.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.