LuntzWatch: Tax Reform, wait, Relief

[Influential conservative strategist Frank Luntz has produced a 160-page playbook to advance the right-wing agenda. Think Progress cuts through the spin and gives you the tools you need to fight back. Check here for updates throughout the week.]

Some snippets from the overview:

Use reform not simplification. Reform sounds like Americans will end up paying more but everyone likes the word simplification. (And we all know how simple President Bush likes to keep things. Because being President is hard work. It’s hard.)

People hate tax hikes more than they like tax cuts so instead of making Bush tax cuts permanent, say that revoking the tax cuts would lead to “the largest tax increase in American history.” (Especially don’t say that the Bush tax cuts have lead to the largest federal deficit in American history) In step one, legislators are given a few instructions on how to set the mood: • Stress how badly Washington spends their money. “The only way to stop wasteful Washington s pending now and forever is to keep the money with those who earned it…If Washington doesn’t have your money, Washington can’t spend your money.” (Some thing tells us that it won’t be difficult to convince the American people that this administration’s spending is out of control.)

• And when attacking Washington, especially go after the IRS: “The IRS is still the most hated institution of government. You cannot overdo it when it comes to attacking the IRS.” (Nothing like advocating the school bully strategy.)

• And like a petulant child, stomp your foot and say, Taxes aren’t fair! “It IS an issue of FAIRNESS. It’s time…to talk about why the tax system punishes the successful.” (Actually, the middle class now bears the burden of the tax system. Thanks to Bush’s tax cuts.) Tips on talking about the Tax Relief Triangle (the Economy, the Taxpayer, and the Government):

• “You should talk about tax relief’s economic impact in the strong forceful terms you usually reserve for national security speeches. The parallels are ripe for exploitation…”

• Making the taxpayer feel like a hero: “Never has there been a taxpayer who was not either hard-working, overburdened, or most likely, both.” (Seriously, I think we can name at least a few brackets of citizens who aren’t exactly ‘overburdened’ anymore.)

• “Washington will always misspend the hardworking, overburdened taxpayer’s money, and that’s not fair.” (No argument here. None at all.)

Thus far, the award for the “okay, I’m not saying we’re going to do this but wouldn’t it be totally cool if we did?” suggestion goes to this statement: “If we moved tax day to November 1 of each year and ended the process of withholding, conservatives would win permanent majorities all across the country.” (Another little known fact: “If all the animals along the equator were capable of flattery, then Halloween and Thanksgiving would be on the same day.”)