How many of us who are married or in long term relationships like it when our spouse, having no understanding whatsoever as to why we might be upset over something, gladly tells you why he or she believes we are upset and then proceeds to use that explanation as rationale for why they are right?
I am not sensing that many of you are raising your hands in support of this sort of spousal behavior.
If it sucks for your spouse to do that then you can imagine how most of the people in this country are feeling right now when they are lectured by an out-of-touch United States Senator who thinks he knows better when it comes to your reaction to a smaller than expected tax refund or finding that you owe more in taxes than you have in the past on the same income.
One would like to think our politicians, particularly those who sold the country on the tax cut bill, would have some empathy or understanding for why people would be upset, right?
Not according to Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa who has decided that he alone grasps the source of our personal economic pain when, in truth, he hasn’t got a clue.
When asked by reporters yesterday about the vocal frustration expressed by many Americans over their reduced tax refunds Grassley stated: “Isn’t it kind of stupid to look at a refund? What your refund is — that doesn’t tell you what taxes you pay. What taxes you pay is, compare what you’re going to do in 2019 vs what you did in 2018. The bottom line is the answer. I’m frustrated that people, as individual taxpayers, may think their refund is the answer to how much taxes they actually paid.”
Thanks for that, Senator.
And yet, I don’t find myself feeling any better about my less than expected refund.
Grassley later went on to blame not only taxpayers for not understanding how their changes in paycheck withholdings are affecting their tax refunds, but also blaming “well-educated” politicians, who are “leading the public to believe that their refund has to do with the amount of taxes they’re actually paying.”
The irony in all this is that the Iowa Senator started off his press conference by saying that how much people get back in tax refunds is “not the point”.
Sen Grassley is right in recognizing what should be the real ‘point’-over 50% of our Congress (including the House and the Senate) is made up of millionaires who have absolutely no idea what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck.
Seventy-eight percent of Americans do understand what it is like. They further understand how ‘we the people’ count on that tax refund check for high ticket purchases or repairs we’ve avoided all year because they needed that refund check to get it done.
Grassley’s comments – like the actions or lack of actions of so many Members of Congress – show that he just doesn’t have a feel for what everyday Americans go through. Indeed, the Senator is so removed from the average American’s life experience – as are so many of his fellow Senators and Congressmen – that we have to wonder if our leaders possess the ability to represent us even if that is the goal.
So, for you, Senator Grassley, I’m offering some free advice in how to treat others with empathy. I give you this courtesy of The Political Marriage Counselor.
The first thing you must do when trying to overcome a psychological blind spot is to admit you have a problem.
In your case, Senator Grassley, that blind spot is your inability to empathize with what regular non-millionaire Americans go through and ask them why they are so upset about the smaller refunds.
If you can see your way clear to recognizing the problem, you will discover what so many of my “real life” clients discover- just how wrong they, and you, are in understanding why the other person is so upset.
Next, you need to internalize the root of the affected individual’s displeasure- in this case understanding that the tax refund check is the only way they can get ahead enough to afford a sizable repair or purchase.
Once you have removed your blind spot and come to learn that this problem exists, you can then acknowledge the importance of these tax refunds to the average working American and get to work on finding a solution.
Only then, Senator Grassley, will you be better equipped to do the job your constituents sent you to Washington to perform.