Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Leave me out of this!

Headline writers at The Oregonian not only proclaim the news, their work proclaims a need for two daily newspapers.

Enter The New York Times.

On Monday, both papers ran on their front pages a story about an effort to get the Bush Administration to collect unpaid taxes.

The Oregonian story, which came from the L.A. Times-Washington Post News Service, dominated the page with this four-column-wide screamer: “Congress wants your unpaid taxes”

Wait just one second there, Bub.

"Your" unpaid taxes? Who, me?

The Times ran its own story in the lower left-hand corner. Its headline made it partisan, not personal.

“Democrats Seek Unpaid Taxes, Setting up Clash.”

On to the stories themselves.

In The Oregonian, the story says nothing to support the headline’s false intimation that I’m not paying my taxes.

It also specifically calls the so-called “tax gap” effort bi-partisan: “...Democrats and Republicans are talking it up as a way to fund politically appealing initiatives—and bring down the deficit to boot.”

The Bush administration’s position toward addressing the gap isn’t mentioned.

But back in the New York Times, the lede and headline are joined at the hip: “Congressional Democrats, hoping to finance an ambitious agenda without raising taxes, are on a collision course with the Bush administration etc.” From there on, the story is framed as a push and pull between the Democrats and various Bush mouthpieces.

At one point the Times quotes one Michele Davis in the Treasury Department. Ms. Davis is a spokeswoman, an unsettling term that for me unfailingly evokes the female-phobic humorist James Thurber (vis. "The Catbird Seat").

Anyway, Ms. Davis manages to inject a hackneyed Conservative shibboleth into her oh-so-well-crafted sound bite: “We are very mindful of the compliance burden on taxpayers who do follow the law.”

Wait a minute! “Compliance Burden on taxpayers who do follow the law.”

Now she’s doing what the Oregonian headline writer did—dragging me into this. I follow the law, and I frankly bear no “compliance-burden”—well, on second thought....

My "compliance burden" has nothing to do with how much I pay, but with how Ms. Davis’ boss and patron in the White House, George W. Bush, is spending my money on a policy that has led to mayhem and murder.

If only Ms. Davis would talk about THAT compliance burden.

Until then, she, and The Oregonian, can leave me out of this.

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