Sunday, December 05, 2010

As long as I'm on the subject of taxes, #2

Something that really yanks my chain about the whole tax business is how everyone keeps referring to a tax "hike" if some new deal is not made, about how taxes will "go up" on January 1.

I contend that there is no impeding "tax increase." That taxes are not going to "go up." When the current reduced rates were set, the cut was sold, avowedly and specifically sold, with the reassurance that this was temporary. The rates were going to expire and return to the previous ones after a specific time, that time being December 31, 2010.

Consider this: If a store you shop at ran a week-long sale - say your local grocery store has a special on canned tuna - would you feel it reasonable to go into the store on the last day of that sale, storm up to the manager, and loudly complain about the plan to "raise the price of tuna tomorrow?" I really doubt you would. There was a sale, the sale is over, the price goes back to what it was.

The case with the taxes is not precisely the same but it is more than close enough: The end of a temporary tax cut - a tax sale, in essence - is not a tax "increase." It is the end of a special deal that was only supposed to last a certain time.

This, it should be clear but my experience tells me that it probably isn't because there are always those who insist on reading things a certain way so I figure I have to say it, has nothing to do with whether or not extending the lower rates for anyone or someone or everyone is a good idea or not. It has to do with accuracy and with refusing to absorb right-wing memes. It has to do, I suppose, with framing, which for some reason appears to have fallen into disrepute among a number of lefties as a cliche fad.

Which is unfortunate, because framing really is a valuable political skill. For more years than I care to remember, I have been saying that in any political dispute, it is a terrible mistake to let your opponent set the terms of debate. But it's a mistake we make over and over again and now are making it again in talking about how the end of the "Bush tax cuts" means tax "increases."

I'm just really tired of own goals, okay?

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