Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, April 26-30, 2017

trickle down theory

rhetorical claim: an ambitious tax cut would unleash businesses that now feel constrained by one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. Corporations would be freed to build plants and create jobs in the United States instead of in foreign countries, and would bring home money currently sheltered overseas.

rhetorical effect: justifies huge tax cuts for the wealthy–they get a gusher, everyone else gets a trickle. (Also suggests getting pissed on.)  This theory persists even though there is no evidence that tax cuts produce sustained economic growth. In the immortal words of Donald Rumsfeld, “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Voodoo economics indeed.


freedom to learn

rhetorical claim: freeing up public money in the form of education savings accounts or vouchers will give parents who withdraw their kids from public schools 90% of their child’s per-pupil state allocation to spend on private-school tuition, curriculum, tutoring or other state-approved education expenses.

rhetorical effect: in the name of “freedom”, school choice is a Trojan Horse for destroying the public schools. Funny how Republicans are pro-choice in education and anti-choice when it comes to abortion. Has nothing to do with learning, but everything to do with dismantling teachers’ unions and spending public money on religious indoctrination. Should be called “freedom to earn ” because of the tremendous windfall for the private sector that will ensue.


growth will pay for it

rhetorical claim: tax cuts will stimulate the economy and produce the largest  growth surge since the 1990s. Cutting corporate taxes will also amount to a pay raise for all employees, creating universal prosperity, raising everyone’s pay, increasing businesses to invest, and eliminating inheritance taxes.

rhetorical effect: A profession of pure faith–magic fairy dust. Promises all things to all people. After all, who is against lower taxes overall? Despite the fact that trickle down theory never has worked, this faith in tax cuts will never go away. Any government program is acceptable under this scenario because “growth will pay for it.” This is the biggest lie of all. As Charles Blow explains about Trump’s lies: “In Trump world, facts don’t matter, truth doesn’t matter, language doesn’t matter. Passionate performance is the only ideal. A lie forcefully told and often repeated is better than truth — it is accepted as an act of faith, which is better than a point of fact.


legal babel

rhetorical claim: Obamacare’s 2,000 pages of legal babel cripple the health care insurance market, just as Dodd-Frank is full of regulatory sludge.

rhetorical effect: eliminating any policy constraints or coverage mandates will indeed simplify the insurance market: inadequate or exorbitant policies will become the universal norm. The pernicious claim tat markets are allergic to regulation is one of the wedge rhetorical ploys for all Obama administration policy changes. Demonizing regulation as sewage of nonsense makes it easier to discard altogether.


Trump administration momentum

rhetorical claim: the Freedom Caucus’s blocking Obamacare repeal stymied the Trump administration’s very real progress on deregulation, international leadership, the Supreme Court, etc.

rhetorical effect: this totally mythical conceit is designed to misdirect attention to the fact that Trump has not delivered on his signature campaign promises. The concept of “momentum” assumes that progress has already underway, which is belied by stymied Muslim travel ban, health care reform, tax reform, border wall construction, actions against China, withdrawing from the Paris Accord, etc.


left wing lunatic

rhetorical claim: the Dems are driving further leftward  ever since the election, making any of their candidates unelectable.

rhetorical effect: demonizes any opposition to Trump as crazy.


holistic tax reform

rhetorical claim: Trump’s swashbuckling tax proposals combine into one document all the tax-reform ideas that most inspire conservative movers and shakers. Simplify the brackets? Check. Lower rates? Check. Harmonize rates between corporations and small businesses? Check. Move to a territorial corporate-tax system? Check. Kill off the estate tax, the alternative minimum tax, itemized deductions, and corporate loopholes? Check. This is the sort of stuff that think tanks, congressional reformers and business groups have been salivating over for since Ronald Reagan. The media will spend the coming weeks attempting to drag this debate into the minutiae, highlighting every GOP disagreement over every teensy provision.

rhetorical effect: by lumping them all together, makes it impossible to attack any one of these “plans” (really mostly just cuts) without endangering the whole schema. Belittles any attempts at compromise over such “teensie” matters as the elimination of the alternative minimum tax. Covers over the fact that the reason they’ve been hatching these plans for 25 years are the enormous tax breaks it gives to the wealthy. Most importantly, calling it “holistic” tax “reform” is double misleading because  by only cutting taxes and thus reducing revenues it is not budget neutral. In other words, without any explanation of how it would “pay for itself” (see above), it is just a tax cut, not a tax reform, or even a tax “plan”. At best it is only part of the solution, not a “holistic” approach.


climate hysterics

rhetorical claim: only climate hysterics support the “theory” of climate change or global warming, and they will lie as much as possible to perpetuate this myth.

rhetorical effect: makes any scientific claiming supporting climate change sosund hysterical–what men call women who argue with them, used as a way to belittle and silence dissent.


net neutrality

rhetorical claim: so-called “net neutrality” is a euphemism for government control of the internet. Unfettered free markets made the internet revolution happen, and should be left alone to help it continue to flourish. It is in no one’s interest to slow down or filer the internet.

rhetorical effect: assumes the free market is the only truly “neutral” force, as if monopolies do not exist.

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