Is “Taxpayer” Now Verboten?

600px-Caution_sign_used_on_roads_pn.svgWe have previously discussed how there appears to an ever-expanding list of words deemed inappropriate or biased. It appears “taxpayer” may be the next suspect noun. While Republicans and Democrats alike have made pitches to protecting taxpayers, New Republic’s Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig wrote an article objecting that the use of the word in the 2016 budget is problematic and that we should start to view the noun as yet another loaded and coded word.

In a recent article, Breunig noted that the Republican budget uses “taxpayers” rather than the “people” to marginalize the many Americans who do not pay any taxes. The noun, she argues, “seems to subtly promote the idea that a person’s share in our democratic governance should depend upon their contribution in taxes.”

Here is the evidence cited:

In the 43-page budget, the word “taxpayer” and its permutations appear 24 times, as often as the word “people.” It’s worthwhile to compare these usages, because the terms are, in a sense, rival ideas. While “people” designates the broadest possible public as the subject of a political project, “taxpayer” advances a considerably narrower vision—and that’s why we should eliminate it from political rhetoric and punditry.

Though addressing people as “taxpayers” is common enough to appear politically neutral, it tends to carry more argumentative weight than it’s typically credited with. The House budget is full of examples of seemingly straightforward deployments of the term which are, upon closer inspection, clearly furthering a particular ideology.

One example that she cites is the use of the noun when discussing food stamps in the following passage:

Food stamps, public housing assistance, and development grants are judged not on whether they achieve improved health and economic outcomes for the recipients or build a stronger community, but on the size of their budgets. It is time these programs focus on core functions and responsibilities, not just on financial resources. In so doing this budget respects hard-working taxpayers who want to ensure their tax dollars are spent wisely.

Bruenig argues that “as the Republican authors of this budget know well, the beneficiaries of welfare programs tend to receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes, because they are in most cases low-income. The ‘taxpayers’ this passage has in mind, therefore, don’t seem to be the recipients of these welfare programs, but rather those who imagine that they personally fund them. By this logic, the public is divided neatly into makers and takers, to borrow the parlance of last election’s Republicans.”

I disagree with this view because politicians have long justified their expenditures to “the taxpayers” to assure them that their financial contributions to the treasury are being spent wisely and fairly. Even President Obama has repeatedly pitched his programs as protecting the interests of “taxpayers” as in his 2015 speech on the auto bailout.

What do you think?

88 thoughts on “Is “Taxpayer” Now Verboten?”

  1. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Everyone is a taxpayer, and on that basis the administration should serve us. Getting rid of the term makes the people leeches on the state rather than the state being leeches on the people.

  2. Why not outlaw “taxpayer”? They’ve already outlawed “personal responsibility”, “individual freedom”, and of course, the ever divisive “I built that.”

  3. Happy – it’s weird, but Inga et al have been taunting Squeaky about liking Hillary, and trying to get people to turn on her, for quite a while. I don’t like Hillary Clinton, as many know, but there is literally probably no one on Earth with which I agree on all things. So why do they choose that topic as the one to harp on? Going personal is the hammer and every post looks like a nail, I guess.

    By the way, how are your Butterfly Dogs?

    1. Karen S.

      My Dogs are Great thank you for asking. They are total brats from hell. Daisy will show on April 300-May1-2 if there are enough for a Major that is.

      I like Squeeky I love her sense of humor I don’t agree with everyones’s stance on everything on the blog and that is the second time someone told me to choose and I am not going to do it. I have people on the left that do not speak to me, discounting Squeaking and Inga and Elaine sometimes, Oh Max-1 and have made a production of it. Fine. I am proud they have made a production of it because it just means if they could they would burn me at the stake if this was not a Free Country Obama is working on stopping that but we have to pray that we overcome his pernicious will.

    1. Does she like Hillary? omg. How could she. Her birthday is on October 26 1947. She is 363 days older than my Husband lololol

      1. Happy,
        Yes indeedy she does. She adores Hillary. She has said numerous times in the past that she would vote for her and would even volunteer for her campaign. Ask her. I’d love to hear if she changed her mind on Hillary, or she’s just laying low about her adoration of Hillary, because of her buddies here who hate Hillary. Have you ever heard of a PUMA Happy? Ask her about PUMAS too, lol.

        1. As much as everyone tries to get me into this kind of thing. I will pass. 😉

    1. Karen S

      Yes, my friend already passed me that note this morning. You know about Hillary don’t you?

      Here is another of those disingenuous letters that probably got “lost” somewhere in the last several decades or so.

      To : Counsel Vince Foster
      From: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
      cc: CIA, FBI, NSA

      If you ever decide to go public with our affair and tell them about that abortion I had to have, I will have you taken out,

      Love
      Hillary Rodham Clinton

      P.S.

      Remember

      I am a Scorpio

  4. There is a term in waiting that applies to everyone be they among those who pay or among those who receive. Whether we are supporters or supported we are all powerless witnesses to the ploys and machinations of bureaucrats who have law on their side to take what they want of another’s wealth and position enough to redistribute it for purposes that keep them as lords and overlords of the estate. They administer the estate we serve. Call us then serfs.

  5. More Newspeak I see. – war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength

  6. Prairie Rose

    I should have used his moniker, ‘Snakehead’. He is one of the most despicable people ever to hold office. Research the guy and you’ll find a story fit for a Hollywood movie. His arrogance has grown his whole career. He makes the Koch brothers look like saints. The defining issue illustrating voters/citizens/taxpayers, is he got elected twice. It cost him upwards of $300,000,000 so when he steps down look for more fraud. Let’s see, he defrauded the American taxpayer/citizen/voter out of $250,000,000 and sold his share in the company he created for $300,000,000 then they threw him out and had to take the hit for the fraud. During the trial he took the fifth more than two dozen times so with the best justice money can buy, he got off. Then he started another medical corporation and has it run by his wife. So, when he steps down follow the little magician as he cleans up on laws that he created, connections, and of course, payoffs.

    He happens to be Republican but he could be Democrat. He is the poster child for crooks buying political office. He is so far ahead of the game he doesn’t even need super pacs or oligarchs. He is the whole team wrapped into one.

  7. the next ‘suspect noun’? Taxpayers are verbs…the ‘doing’ word. If you are a ‘taxpayer…you send in money to the irs. That is not a noun. But a verb. One year we were due a refund….hub had a tax free break under an authorization of use of force. Our contributions were due to be refunded. But the check got stole in the mail. To apply to get it back we had to become ‘suspectts’….a backdoor audit. We didn’t do it. Cost benefit anal of the actions required.
    Taxpayers are a verb…and always suspect. The is no such thing as a suspect noun.

  8. Nick,
    I guess I don’t see anything wrong with Issac bringing up Jeb Bush’s controlling behavior. You don’t strike me as someone who’d want to support Jeb Bush doing such a thing.

    I have issues with ‘climate change’–it’s too much of a catch-all phrase, anything goes–global cooling/global warming. Defined terms that are clearly understood by all parties aids debate; climate change does not fit, to my understanding (guess I need to get out more). 😉

    If Professor Turley hasn’t brought it up, then issac can bring it up on a related topic to expand the discussion.

  9. Issac,
    “The Florida Governor is specifically controlling words, terms, and their commonly understood meaning in the workings of the government. Why is open for interpretation but given his stance on the issues of Global Warming, having taken the ‘I’m not a scientist’ position and then hypocritically controlling accepted scientific terminology, this is many times more illustrative of JT’s concerns that the taxpayer/citizen condition.”

    I agree that Jeb Bush’s attempts at controlling the language is worse, in many respects, considering he has the power of the state.

    My comment was more a sigh of aggravation that it is a bipartisan effort to control language.

    I think we are in violent agreement. 🙂

  10. Well get used to it. Hillary’s minions just warned reporters to watch what words they use in describing her, making sure they’re not using any sexist terms. I hope pizza loving, lying, fat, lesbian is OK.

    1. Nick –

      I hope pizza loving, lying, fat, lesbian is OKAll those words are verboten when used against Hillary including I hope and

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