When You Hear Pols Talk About “Reform,” Duck

Generals know that most battles are won before the fighting actually starts. They’re won by the material brought to the field, the number of troops in place and troop morale. Smart pols know something similar — most of their own political battles are also won in advance. They are won by the way words and terms applied to certain issues have been shaped so as to seem acceptable to the public.

Consider the current battle over taxes. Some pols have sought to brand all tax-advantaged rich folks “job creators;” turn the word “entitlements” into a pejorative that suggests those receiving various kinds of payments from the government are undeserving spongers; and make it seem that ‘tax preferences,” which are benefits deliberately written into the Tax Code to generate things deemed socially worthwhile (e.g. home ownership), and “tax loopholes,” which are errors in the way tax laws are written that sharp-eyed accountants spot and use for the benefit of their clients, are synonymous.

Perhaps the one word with the biggest long-term potential to screw the many for the benefit of the few, however, is one being bantered about by officials on both sides of the party aisles these days. It’s the word “reform.”

I will be writing about some of these so-called “reforms” at length in coming days. Here, I’ll merely make this suggestion: When you hear some pol talk about a desperate need to “reform the Tax Code,” duck.

Nine times out of ten, or perhaps I should say 98 percent of the time out of 100 percent, the richest among us, the largest multinationals, and Wall Street, one way or another, are gonna come out ahead and the rest of us get screwed.

Bank on it. The lobbyists representing these worthies, who will have such a big role in actually writing into law the specifics of these “reforms,” are certainly going to the bank with profits from this work.

2 Comments

  1. Yup. We saw it with health care reform, as all the entrenched interests had to be bought off with special treatment to secure their support of the legislation. And I’m sure we’d see the same with tax reform.

    I don’t think it’s as simple as blaming lobbyists, though, as they will often just be channeling the interests or fears of large numbers of citizens, and derive their clout from the mob behind them. The AMA lobbyist will have a lot of influence because he speaks for half a million doctors, who can if need be terrify 300 million citizens with the dire consequences of the wrong sort of reform–ie, one that creates hardship for doctors.

  2. Which is exactly why Boehner and the GOP want to focus on those more nebulous, and far harder to quantify things that simply adjusting the tax rates. Most Americans hardly have time to follow the broad stroke issues, and they are certainly not going to be delving into the minutiae of tax code specifics. It is so much easier to pull the wool over people’s eyes if you work within that framework.

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