Liberals Want Us to Stop Using the Word “Taxpayer”

On the surface, it would seem like liberals would embrace the term “taxpayer” more readily than conservatives. After all, they’re the ones who are always pushing for higher taxes. They’re the ones who think there should barely be a limitation on how much money the government can take out of our paychecks. They’re the ones that think it’s perfectly fine to go to work every day so that someone else doesn’t have to. Conservatives, more often than not, are looking for ways to minimize their tax burden.

According to The New Republic’s Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, though, the term “taxpayer” is a loaded one that should be removed from our political rhetoric. She came to this conclusion while perusing the House Republican budget for fiscal year 2016, noting that she found 24 instances of the term in the 43-page budget. This usage, Bruenig, argues, is “clearly furthering a particular ideology.”

“There are too many scenarios these days in which Washington forgets that its power is derived from the ‘consent of the governed'” the plan reads in one instance of the term’s use. “It forgets that its financial resources come from hard-working American taxpayers who wake up every day, go to work, actively grow our economy, and create real opportunity.” In other words, Americans’ taxes are parallel with taxpayers’ consent, suggesting that expenditures that do not correspond to an individual’s will are some kind of affront.


While Bruenig is surely correct that we do not – and should not – have an absolute say over how our individual taxes are used down to the penny, I’m not sure that is said or even implied by the budget’s language. No one believes that. But it is worth remembering every once in a while that it isn’t welfare-recipients and layabouts who make the economy go around. And since we’re talking about money and taxes, it doesn’t seem too controversial to make a delineation between those who are contributing and those who are receiving.

Bruenig may have forgotten this – I’m not sure they teach it anymore in school – but this country’s independence was founded over the issue of taxes. If the colonialists had been kicking back, soaking up the public funds, we would probably still be under British rule today. And if everyone in America today decided to stop working and instead depend on the federal government to support them, there wouldn’t be an America tomorrow.

Bruenig makes the bleeding-heart argument that our share in this democracy comes not from our taxpayer contribution but from our personhood. And that is certainly true; you don’t have to bring your tax return with you to the voting booth. And it is true that there are other ways to contribute to your country than to pay taxes.

But when we’re talking about taxes and federal expenditures, I don’t think there’s any harm in drawing a distinction between the givers and the takers. Between those building an economy and those sucking off the federal teat. Liberals want us to believe that the bum is as good as the entrepreneur. That the welfare queen is as valuable to America as the businessman. That may be true in the eyes of God, but it isn’t true in the eyes of the economy.

Let’s keep using the word taxpayer. If it makes some people uncomfortable, maybe that’s a problem they need to solve for themselves.

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