Politicians use words to inspire, cajole and convince people that their particular policy prescriptions are without fault and beneficial to both the least among us and the nation as a whole. Unfortunately, some politicians also use words to deceive people with a rhetorical frequency and intensity that overshadow reality for the uninformed voter.
Pundits often analyze a politician’s positions on the most prominent issues as distinct from his vision of sound fiscal policy. The shrewdest of lawmakers, however, seek to blur the distinctions, arguing that their brand of fiscal policy is a sure-fire cure for all of our social ills. The blurred lines are most apparent when the political rhetoric turns to discussion of taxation and government spending.
Examples abound, and politicians are careful to couch their desire for higher tax rates as benefiting some sort of common good. Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) recently stated that she wants to “take those profits” from oil companies to fund alternative sources of energy. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) said last week that he wants to “rearrange” tax rates to achieve a more “equitable distribution” of the 2001 and 2003 tax rate cuts. His goal is to “offset” the “cost” of limiting or eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, which threatens millions of taxpayers. The website Politico.com reported last week that Democrats plan to pay for $700 million in health care for poor children with “revenue enhancements.”
Taking corporate profits, rearranging tax rates, offsetting tax rate cuts and enhancing revenue are clever rhetorical twists for advocating the same goal – raising tax rates on corporations and individuals deemed most able to pay more taxes.
The tax pushers buttress their arguments not only in terms of all the common good they plan to achieve, but in the “scoring” estimates of tax legislation produced by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Since the CBO was created in 1974, one of its duties is to estimate the “cost” of a proposed tax rate increase or decrease. That is, the supposed positive or negative effect of tax rates on the rate’s ability to generate federal revenues. The problem is the CBO uses what is referred to as static, instead of dynamic, scoring methods.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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