One of my favorite websites is Dictionary.com I particularly like its Word of the Day feature.
I enjoy it so much, I'm borrowing the approach to look at a political-economic-tax word that's probably going to be at the top of this year's election glossary: Redistribution.
Here's the by the book (or, in this case Internet) definition:
Since Barack Obama's appearance on the national political scene, this term has become a partisan weapon.
Republicans use it to slam the president and Democrats who want to raise taxes on wealthier taxpayers and use -- yes, redistribute -- the funds for programs designed for middle-income and lower-wage earners.
The word has become completely unveiled code for the makers vs. takers argument.
Obama essentially gave his opposition its ammunition. He has never made any secret in his support of spreading the wealth.
That concept reached its zenith, or so we thought, in October 2008 when then candidate Obama had an exchange with Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, about the fiscal/economic concept. That on-the-street discussion soon showed up in John McCain ads.
Redistributing an ad campaign: Now that political advertisement theme is being redistributed (sorry; couldn't resist).
The Mitt Romney campaign is featuring a 1998 video of Obama, who was then an Illinois state senator, discussing his support of redistribution.
The only problem is that the GOP didn't use the full clip. The video has been selectively edited for TV ad purposes, leaving out such favorite conservative terms as competition, marketplace and innovation.
It seems some folks don't find those words as appealing when the current president says them in the original video, taken during a presentation 14 years ago at Loyola University in Chicago.
In case you can't see the video (or watch it at work right now), here's the future prez's full quote with the words the Romney campaign excised in bold blue type:
"I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot. How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities."
With all the words in place, Obama expresses his support for a free market system that uses some of its resources to help others achieve similar success.
Redistributing to whom: What the Republican ad isn't saying is that redistribution can work both directions.
Robin Hood is the classic redistributor of wealth, taking from the rich and giving it to the poor. This is obviously what the GOP, or at least the wealthy members of the party, think Obama is trying to do and they aren't happy about it.
However, the current GOP presidential candidate, despite his recent campaign stop declaration that "redistribution has never been a characteristic of America" (by the way, he's wrong; it's been around since colonial days), is not expressly opposed to income redistribution.
Romney says on his campaign website that he supports our current six income tax bracket system. He just wants to lower all the tax rates by 20 percent.
But our progressive tax system, where people are taxed at different rates based on their incomes, is a common income redistribution methodology. Those who make more pay higher taxes and everyone's tax money is redistributed to all Americans via government spending on a variety of public programs and social services.
The hubby and I have no children, but our tax money is redistributed to help pay for the child tax credit and other child-related tax breaks.
And some folks argue that breaks for investors and homeowners, tax benefits we do take advantage of on our 1040s, is a form of redistribution.
So the real issue is not so much that income is redistributed, but how it's done and to whom or what programs it goes.You also might find these items of interest: