WASHINGTON: As the IRS began mailing tax rebate checks last week,
the White House, Republicans on Capitol Hill, and the Republican
National Committee (RNC) began an effort to make sure every American
knows who made it happen.
The Republican Party is using everything from bumper stickers to radio
call-ins to paid media to ensure that voters associate the rebate checks
with the GOP "brand." The checks are the first part of a $1.35
trillion tax cut championed and signed by President Bush earlier this
The bumper stickers, 10,000 of which were mailed to state GOP workers
last week, read "Thank me for your tax cut - I voted for Bush." The
White House is also urging state party leaders to send press releases to
local media showing how "real people" can use the rebate checks.
Washington State Party chairman Chris Vance's suggestions included a
year of cell phone service, 12 nights out at the movies for a family of
four, or 40 packs of diapers.
The campaign also consists of a large paid media effort, including radio
and possibly TV ads.
Many more PR opportunities will come, said RNC press secretary Trent
Duffy, as the bulk of the tax cut phases in over the next decade. "The
beauty of the tax bill being phased in is that it gives us a natural
news hook periodically to discuss tax relief, which is always good for
Republicans," he said. "When kids go back to school in September, we can
talk about education tax breaks. Next year, when the rates go down
further, we can talk about pay checks getting larger.
"At first there was some concern about the phasing-in of the tax cut,
but it's turning out to be a very handy thing from a PR standpoint," he
Duffy said the campaign, despite stretching across the country and
requiring the cooperation of both the White House and Capitol Hill,
should be simple from a logistical standpoint.
"It doesn't take a lot of pushing from the White House or the RNC to get
members of Congress to talk about tax relief," he said. "They're all
very excited about it, and that kind of excitement is invaluable when
you're talking about an earned media campaign."
Last month, the IRS began mailing the rebate checks, which range from
$300 for single taxpayers to $600 for married couples. The
last checks are expected to be mailed by early September.