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. When you drop three quarters in the Pepsi machine someone down the line pays a tax from one of your quarters. Now where you got the quarter matters not. You paid the tax. If you are on welfare but buy something in a store. Guess what? Taxed.
    The goof who wrote the article went off on the wrong tangent. She should address the issues of voting. Can those who don’t work vote? Should they be denied suffrage? How about those who don’t work enough? What about those who work two jobs. Should they get to vote twice?

    There are a lot of people who publish articles who need some more education.
    A workaholic is worse than an alcoholic. One who goes to the cat house and refrains from rubber use is a person of great faith. When he gets blisters he tells the wife its not fried chicken Sally its Shake N Bake. Whether one pays taxes is neither her nor there. If you spend a dime you are likely to pay some tax. Where the dime came from does not matter. Except in Russia.

  2. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m as relaxed as Perry Como, my Canadian friend. JT’s Cubs had Spring Training out there back in the 30’s and 40’s. Wrigley developed the island, building hotels and a casino. He donated almost all his holdings to the Catalina Conservancy before he died. I like islands, they have a certain je ne sais quoi about them. We had many family reunions on Martha’s Vineyard back in the 80’s/90’s. That’s right, in the heart of liberalism! And, I enjoyed it as much as I do in conservative areas like Utah.

  3. Going to Catalina Island this weekend. Anyone ever been? Any suggestions? I am confident I’ll end up better than Natalie Wood.

  4. LOL! It’s Thursday. When you’re in paradise and a happy man, all the days blend together.

  5. Free speech is a difficult concept for lefties. That’s why some formed their own blog. It’s why they LOVE speech codes. It’s really quite simple. You can say what you want. And, I can say it’s stupid. Pretty freakin’ simple if you are not a Commie speech controller. Now, one of you complainers do something productive and make me a sandwich. I think I’m ready for lunch.

    Hint: This is where you tell me to go sh!t in my hat. That’s might just get this free speech thing yet.

  6. Isaac, That was a very broad interpretation of “What do you think?”

    I think pink is really purple.
    I think I’m ready for lunch.
    I think my poop smells like seafood.
    I think baseball is the best sport.
    I could go on w/ random thoughts. But, it’s stupid and I’m able to see that.

    What do you think, Isaac? I’m particularly interested in your thoughts on my bowel movements, but I don’t want to micromanage.

  7. TJustice,
    Yep, it’s as if he thinks he has permission to guide conversation, approve topics, chide commenters for their comments and compliment other commenters for being ‘good commenters’ because they agree with his ‘sect’ of like minded commenters. It’s been ridiculous for sometime now, but has become entirely absurd.

  8. Oh you mean people!!! Saying bad things about poor Ms. Burenig!!! You should be ashamed of yourselves! What she needs is a safe zone paid for by uh er the taxp. . .uh people who graciously give their money to the government so they can help people!

    Judith Shulevitz, writing in the New York Times, reports that infantilized college students are indulging their need for insulation by demanding “safe spaces” where any speech that could hurt their feelings would be forbidden.

    She lists examples of the demands of students that verge on the incredible; in one instance, when a student group at Brown University called the Sexual Assault Task Force discovered that a debate was to be held where one participant, a libertarian, would slam the term “rape culture,” the group protested to the administration. That prompted Brown’s president, Christina H. Paxson, to schedule a talk concurrent with the debate that would provide “research and facts” about “the role of culture in sexual assault.” A “safe space” was created for students upset by the debate; the space included cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets, and a video of puppies.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  9. The intolerant PC police make a mockery of the English language.

    If Welfare systems work correctly, most people receive benefits and get back on their feet, becoming taxpayers again themselves. Elderly recipients were taxpayers their entire lives, and there is no stigma with them reaping the benefits in their golden years.

    How interesting that the author seems to subtly imply that she believes that welfare recipients receive more benefits than they pay in taxes during their lifetime, because my assumption has been that people would receive such benefits temporarily for non-medical reasons.

    In my opinion, people who are currently paying taxes care more about that money being wasted than those who do not pay taxes. It matters more when it’s your money going to waste in pork projects than if it was someone else’s. The exception being the elderly, who have a lifetime of wisdom and managing their own finances.

  10. Maybe the word owned?! The takers are owned because they give up their freedom and dignity for a few shekels from their owners ( government) . The payers are owned because if they do not submit to the extortion they will be kidnapped.

  11. Nick Spinelli,

    “I say this to everyone who calls JT to task about not doing a post about a certain topic of their interest. It’s horseshit. There are literally millions of topics. His blog, his choice. Start your own blog if you want some topic covered. Some folks who were here have done just that. I’ll leave it @ that.”

    Hahaha talk about Orwellian. JT’s version of minions that tell persons what is allowed to be discussed on his blog. Like Orwell said, no need to use force to control people, thought control in elite culture takes care of it.

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