How Democrats Can Start Winning: Estate Tax

The right-wing Republican penchant for picking pithy phrases that allow them to dominate the dialogue is distressing. Democrats need to do much more than simply take back the power of framing the issues in order to get our country back on track, but certainly, they must do at least that.

I want Democrats to start talking about the estate tax in a way that captures the imagination of the masses of angry voters roaming the countryside looking for blood.

First, stop saying the tax affects “the wealthiest.” Everyone hopes he or she will one day be that wealthy, and we all have a different number in our heads. Say $3.5 million, or whatever the new number will be in 2011.

But don’t stop there. Get very specific. We know only a teeny tiny number of estates will actually be large enough to trigger estate tax liability, but don’t just give the number. Put faces on the number.

The faces of politicians.

If people understood that less than 1% of all Americans are actually affected by the estate tax, but greater than x% of members of the House and Senate are affected, they might begin to see why the “death tax” isn’t really something to get worked up about.

Pundits keep telling us that voters are angry at Washington and want to send a message. Why not send the message that if a tax primarily affects the wealthy idiots in the Senate and House, we’re just fine with that?! Maybe the wealthy Democrats would get backbones and start standing up for the issues that actually affect the rest of us. Like health care, and not the watered-down compromise crap they have on tap right now.


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