Political framing: Taxes

After Christina shared George Lakoff’s ideas on framing, I’ve been thinking about developing new frames from a progressive political point of view. We can’t simply react to what the conservatives do, we must proactively create the future.

Under the radar, President Bush is gradually moving towards a flat tax, and along the way the changes to the tax code will benefit the rich and hurt the middle class. The goal of my frame is to communicate to the middle class (many of whom voted for Bush against their own economic interests) how this harms them.

My idea is to succinctly and consistently repeat one phrase that communicates how this personally hurts a middle class American. I started by finding the average salary in the U.S., which is $36,520. I’ll round that up to $40K for my purposes, both to use a nice round, memorable number and to be appeal to people’s aspirations. Then I checked the tax tables which are available back to ’92. I came up with:

“Just before Bush was elected, a married person making $40,000 a year paid $6,000 in taxes. Now that person pays ____ in taxes.”

Theoretically taxes will be higher by the next presidential election. As of 2003 they were actually lower (which is even more scary, in that taxes were lowered and a war is being paid for at a time of historically high debt), but that will probably change, even if we have to crash first.