How to Win on Taxes
START TALKING ABOUT TAXES
Goals: People think about taxes like they think about flossing their teeth. Necessary, but unpleasant. Use the opening of your speech to draw people in, to make the topic of taxes accessible, fun, engaging. And be conversational – avoid the “wonk” trap. Get your potential voters excited about the journey you are about to take them on through the nation’s tax code. You are showing your potential voters the “black box” of the economy. You are teaching them. They need to know (and deep down they want to know) what’s in it, what it means, and how it affects every part of their lives. Have fun!
(Good morning… welcome… etc…)
Everybody Pays Taxes (and No One Especially Likes It – Even Me)
Raise your hand if you pay taxes, any kind of taxes: sales tax, gas tax, income tax, payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, state taxes, local taxes. There are a lot of kinds of taxes, aren’t there?! Raise your hand if you pay any of them. Now keep your hand up if you like paying taxes. I get it. Watching a chunk of your paycheck disappear or getting a bill with this extra charge at the bottom. That’s the worst!
Our Government Does Important Things
(you can pick out your own “important things”)
Now let me ask another question. Did anyone get here today by driving on a road? When you turned on your water this morning, did you feel safe drinking it? Anyone here on Medicare or Social Security, or with a parent on Medicare or Social Security? Do you know anyone in a nursing home? Did you know 65% of people in nursing homes are on Medicaid? Anyone see the rescue of the boys in the cave in Thailand? Did you know our military helped get them out? Did anyone see the new NIH study that restored hearing in mice – paving the way to possibly cure hearing loss, something that affects 48 million Americans?
The Point: We Need Taxes to Have Good Government
I think you may be getting my point here. It’s a pretty simple one – there are things we need to do as a society – big things and small things – things that help a lot of people and some things that help a few. Those things aren’t free. But they’re important.
Acknowledge Differences of Opinions About Spending
Now, we can and should have lots of discussions about what those things are and whether or not we should handle those things as individuals or whether they are things that everyone needs to chip in on together. Those are important discussions. But let’s agree for now that we have some things we want to do together as a society – and we are going to have to pay for those things.