Caveat Emptus. Let the bought beware. My warning to CT voters who, if the latest Q-poll is to be believed, seem to be allowing themselves to be bought by Republican senate candidate Linda McMahon’s costly bombardment of airwaves and mailboxes.
The thing is, once you get beyond McMahon’s carefully scripted messages, there’s not a whole lot there besides platitudes and ad dollars. Take this gem: “We have to have more cooperation and smart people having really honest debates about the issues,” McMahon said. “That’s what I’d really like to see.”
Me too, Linda. But that certainly isn’t what we’re getting from you. See, in order to have an honest debate, one needs first to have stated a position. While Mrs. McMahon has used her vast personal wealth to saturate the media, not to mention causing major deforestation by the sheer volume of mailers she’s sent out, she’s failed to state any concrete positions except for, you guessed it: cutting taxes.
Oh, she’s great at making sweeping statements: “Congress has to start acting more like the millions of Americans who face difficult financial decisions every day. When credit and money are tight, families make tough choices…Deficit spending must end…Fiscal discipline — true fiscal discipline — means not only cutting taxes but also reducing spending.”
McMahon is pretty explicit about the cutting taxes part. Her glossy brochure, “Preserving the American Dream: Putting Connecticut Back to Work” is filled details on how we can do that. As is predictable for a GOP politician, she wants to abolish the Estate and Gift taxes. But number one on her list is extending the Bush Tax cuts.
Call me a cynic, but it couldn’t be that McMahon has a vested interest in this, could it? Just because McMahon and her husband strategically pay themselves $40 million in profits a year from their WWE empire in dividends rather than salary (Vince draws $850,000 a year, Linda draws none) and thus would stand to pay $10 million more in taxes on this income per annum if the Bush tax cuts expire.
See this illuminating exchange between McMahon and local blogger Anderson Scooper:
So we know McMahon has intensely personal reasons – like $10 million of them – for being specific about cutting taxes. But what about cutting spending? That’s what we’ve done in my family since this downturn began. And that, my friends, is where Mrs. McMahon’s scriptwriters get weak.
She refused to take a position on raising the retirement age for Social Security or eligibility age for Medicare because “she didn’t want to be pigeon-holed on the topic during a hyperpartisan campaign”.
Lesson in Civics 101, Linda: That’s exactly the time voters should be hearing candidates thoughts and positions on such difficult issues, so that they can make an informed judgment in the voting booth.
For someone who is talking about the need for government to make the same difficult choices my family does, McMahon’s evasive responses don’t exactly fill me with confidence. “Politicians for decades have been using Social Security and Medicare as a huge political football,” McMahon said. “We have to take the politics out of it.”
Agreed. But “taking the politics out of it” doesn’t mean not talking about these subjects before the election so you can appear to be all things to all people. So you don’t scare off seniors and the disadvantaged, because you know darn well that if you’re going to support a balanced budget amendment and vote for all those tax cuts – those few positions you’ve actually outlined – then the “difficult choices” are going to come out of our hides so you can continue to pay 15 percent on your dividends. And that, readers, is why I repeat the warning: Caveat Emptus.
Sarah Darer Littman is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers and an award-winning novelist of books for teens. Long before the Financial Meltdown, she worked as a securities analyst and earned her MBA in Finance from the Stern School at NYU.