I’ve talked about Frank Luntz several times on this blog. Frank is the go-to guy for the Republican Party to help them frame their policy goals in ways that makes them look good while making their Democratic adversaries look villainous. His early crowning achievement was the “death tax”; a redefining of the Estate Tax as one that not only affects very wealthy people but one that also impacts all Americans, no matter what your income level.
Nothing is further from the truth but Luntz had great success with this as conservative politicians struck fear in voters raising this specter of more “government over reach” during election years. But according to the IRS, after fair market value is assessed at the time of death and reduced by allowable deductions, “only total taxable estates and lifetime gifts that exceed $1,000,000 will actually have to pay tax. In its current form, the estate tax only affects the wealthiest 2 percent of all Americans”.
So it’s no surprise that the Republicans, the favored Party of Wall Street, has sought Luntz’s expertise again on how best to handle what is proving to be a successful scrutiny by the Occupy movements of Wall Street’s whitewashes. Party officials at the Republican Governors Association held earlier this week in Florida asked Luntz how they could effectively get around addressing concerns raised by OWS without appearing indignant and belittling.
“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and one of the nation’s foremost experts on crafting the perfect political message. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”
Luntz offered tips on how Republicans could discuss the grievances of the Occupiers, and help the governors better handle all these new questions from constituents about “income inequality” and “paying your fair share.” SOURCE –
Actually its the crony capitalism that concerns the OWS movement but Luntz and the Republicans have lost sight of Adam Smith’s economic vision. As reported by Yahoo News reporter Chris Moody, Luntz made 10 suggestions. Some you’ll be familiar with like “Blame Washington, not Wall Street”, referring to entrepreneurs as “job creators” and never use the word “compromise” – something the founding fathers are guilty of utilizing to write our Constitution.
The problem with blaming Washington is that the link between Wall Street and many in Washington is becoming too apparent to the public, thanks in large part to OWS. Corporate lobbyists in the Belt Way are seen as people who donate large amounts to congressional campaign coffers in return for favorable legislation. But there is also something more sinister and less transparent that has exposed a direct link between corporate special interests and the legislation coming out of Washington.
“Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called “model bills” reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations. Through ALEC, corporations have “a VOICE and a VOTE” on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state.” SOURCE
And seeing wealthy corporations who have been hoarding billions in liquid assets as they push such legislation through that protects their interests while biding their time and funding candidates who will fall in lock step with their agenda has pretty much damaged their image as job creators. Many businesses have seen huge profits over the last two years but have done very little hiring.
They say an educated public is an informed one, so let’s look at the other suggestions Luntz is recommending to insure the public hears what the GOP wants them to.
- Don’t say ‘capitalism.’ Look instead for the frequent use of ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market’ from GOP candidates. Luntz feels OWS has shown where capitalism has become corrupt and immoral. Many corporate “free marketers” are now seen as crony capitalist.
2. Replace ‘taxes the rich.’ by talking about government taking the money from hardworking Americans. The Right has made taxes an evil thing rather than a necessary part of operating a democracy thanks to Grover Norquist. If only taxing the wealthy actually removed the reality of our income disparity issue, this would not be a topic.
3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the ‘middle class.’ Call them ‘hardworking taxpayers.’ Yes but what about those recent battles where the GOP refused to allow the “middle class” to keep the Bush tax cuts unless the one-per centers were included and the one facing the Senate now that refuses to keep the cut in middle class payroll taxes if the wealthy have to pay a small surtax on income they make above $1 million? Ask your congressman who uses this snow job if Halliburton and the other war profiteers that defrauded billions in tax payer dollars to pay for substandard work in Iraq are “hard working taxpayers”.
4. Don’t talk about ‘jobs.’ Talk about ‘careers.’ How silly can this be?
Luntz asked all the members of the National Governors Association to raise their hand if they want a “job.” Few hands went up. Then he asked who wants a “career.” Almost every hand was raised. “So why are we talking about jobs?”, Luntz lamely commented. Why would career politicians think “jobs” were demeaning?
5. Don’t say ‘government spending.’ Call it ‘waste.’ Are we talking about the waste that builds our roads, bridges and civic areas like parks and recreation areas or that pays our military to keep us secure and agencies that guard against polluting our drinking water and the air we breathe and the food we eat. Or is Luntz referring to the government largesse that pays profitable agri-businesses to grow crops that never make it to market or oil companies that remove tax revenue that in part goes to their bottom line and investor dividends.
6. Feign sympathy by telling an Occupier: ‘I get it.’
Tell them you “feel their pain” followed by offering what Luntz calls “Republican solutions”. Like what Luntz? Eliminating public sector jobs and killing the social safety nets of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid to pay off a deficit they helped generate?
7. Don’t ever ask anyone to ‘sacrifice.’ Warren Buffet has demonstrated that the wealthy are not part of the 99% yet Luntz wants the GOP to convince us that “we’re all in this together. We either succeed together or we fail together.” Pardon me but did someone miss that part about how the income disparity in this country is greater than it’s ever been in over 50 years and that while millions were losing their jobs and sources of income and health care benefits during this great recession, Wall Street was seeing some of its highest profits in decades.
8. Don’t say ‘bonus!’ Luntz advised that if they give their employees an income boost during the holiday season, they should never refer to it as a “bonus”. “If you give out a bonus at a time of financial hardship, you’re going to make people angry. It’s ‘pay for performance” Luntz tells them. Large private financial institutions and their hedge fund mangers dealt in questionable practices that promoted predatory lending and bundling toxic mortgage assets to sell to unsuspecting investors. This ultimately led to a collapse in the financial markets that reverberated around the world They were rewarded with huge “pay for performance” BONUSES.
This convoluted logic lends credibility to the notion that bank robbers are not stealing the savings of people, they are merely reaping their ‘pay for performance” that’s required for sticking a gun in a teller’s face and demanding all the cash in their drawer.
So as the elections approach next year listen carefully to these semantic utterances that are intended to conceal the reality. Republicans are hoping that they can fool you twice so shame on the American voter if they do.