Salon is out with a report this morning concerning a 2019 memo from Republican strategist Frank Luntz, The memo, called “The War on the Successful” was obtained by Salon and is coming to light now because of ProPublica’s recent reporting on the fact that the 25 wealthiest Americans paid little or no taxes from 2014 to 2018.
The Luntz memo outlines his recent polling where he found, "Across partisan lines, there is a deep and growing anger that the wealthy are gaming the system." He found "just 31% of Americans self-identify themselves as capitalists”. Respondents in his poll saw socialism as "better than capitalism in helping the poor and struggling working class, first-generation immigrants, and people entering the workforce for the first time." Slate also quoted the survey’s findings showing “growing support for a proposal by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to "raise the top marginal tax rate for the top 1% to 70%, as well as the 2% wealth tax among people who have $10 million or more proposed by Elizabeth Warren."
“Public opinion, Luntz wrote, was strongly in favor of raising taxes on the rich, limiting corporate executive pay, providing tuition-free college and universal health care, and paying all working people a "living wage," even when they're not working.”
What did Luntz recommend?
First, a change in branding - conservatives should stop using the word “capitalism” and use “economic freedom” instead and “argue that hard work and good ideas are what create massive wealth, rather than political, legal and economic advantages.”
More importantly to our discussion here, Luntz bemoaned that the results were "a sad indication of what's happening in our high schools and universities” and that Republicans should focus on changing education to promote the capitalist system.
That’s where the GOP NC legislature comes in. About the time this memo was distributed, GOP leaders got all hot and bothered about replacing one of two American history classes required for high school graduation with one on “personal finance”, very specifically outlining the contents of the course in the legislation, House Bill 924.
If you look at the standards made for the course by the NC Department of Instruction, based on the law, it doesn’t look like a course on “personal finance”, but a pro-capitalism economics 101 course, uncritically promoting a free market system and ideas about government taxation and fiscal policy.
The polling done by Luntz was funded by Family Enterprise USA and the right-wing lobbying group Policy and Tax Group (PATG). PATG is laser-focused on eliminating estate taxes and has spent a great deal of their money lobbying Congress and advising Trump Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Luntz worked for PATG for many years, and famously recommended they promote the term “death tax”, rather than “estate tax”.
Perhaps all the noise about the dangers of “woke” curriculum and indoctrination by Mark Robinson and Art Pope-funded groups like the Carolina Journal and the John Locke Foundation are designed to distract you from the fact that a DC lobbying firm is determining curriculum in North Carolina’s public schools.