Looking behind the curtain: Hardworking Taxpayers Edition

Chris Moody is my favorite new follow on Twitter. He’s a reporter for Yahoo news, and this morning he’s got a piece from a recent strategizing session at the Republican Governors Association in Florida:

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.”

There’s some good messaging gems:

2. Don’t say that the government ‘taxes the rich.’ Instead, tell them that the government ‘takes from the rich.’

“If you talk about raising taxes on the rich,” the public responds favorably, Luntz cautioned. But  “if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking Americans, the public says no. Taxing, the public will say yes.”

3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the ‘middle class.’ Call them ‘hardworking taxpayers.’

“They cannot win if the fight is on hardworking taxpayers. We can say we defend the ‘middle class’ and the public will say, I’m not sure about that. But defending ‘hardworking taxpayers’ and Republicans have the advantage.”

These types of strategies for communication is something both sides do, of course. It’s important to realize that people who develop and talk about these strategies do so within the narrow context of political messaging, which often has as much to do with what the other side is saying. Outside of that frame of reference it can seem pretty callous. And Frank Luntz seems like a pretty nice guy (he often appeared on the local NPR station to talk state politics). That being said:

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.'”

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