Producer: Hollywood is Liberal Because Stars Don’t See How Much They Pay in Taxes

Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Television producer Rob Long sat down with Variety‘s PopPolitics radio show this week to offer up a number of theories as to why the entertainment industry–and Hollywood in general–is overwhelmingly liberal, and what the Republican Party can do to make headway among the Tinseltown crowd.

Long, who served as a producer on Cheers and the 2012 TV series Sullivan and Son, told Variety that if Hollywood talent saw how much they paid in taxes, it might change their political allegiance:

“I think that in Hollywood, part of the problem is that everyone gets paid a lot of money – the ones who are setting the culture, the tone of the culture. They don’t always see what they get. I always say the best piece of direct mail persuasion for the Republican Party is the pay stub. Everybody has that experience when you look at your check. You look at your pay stub, and you see what you are supposed to get paid, and you see what the government takes out of it before you even get it. And that deflation.

“Everybody’s first job is the Republican Party’s opportunity to sew you up and get you in their party,” Long explained. “People in Hollywood never see their pay stub because it goes to their agent and their lawyer and their manager. They have people controlling that for them.”

In addition, Long said the Republican Party’s message over the past several decades has “gotten a little bit harsh… And I think people in Hollywood just don’t like that.”

“The Republicans in D.C. who sort of plan and orchestrate these things should be thinking hard about those things, harder about the message you are trying to send to Americans, harder about how you connect with real people and harder about how you connect your message to real people. That is something someone like Clint Eastwood has managed to do.”

Long’s assertion that big Hollywood players do not necessarily see their pay stubs, and ultimately, what they pay in taxes, has its roots, ironically, in free-market pioneer Milton Friedman’s introduction of automatic tax withholding during World War II. During the war, the government needed to find a way to collect taxes each year without generating undue resistance or complaints.

Friedman would ultimately come to regret his role in the creation of automatic tax withholding.

“It never occurred to me at the time that I was helping to develop machinery that would make possible a government that I would come to criticize severely as too large, too intrusive, too destructive of freedom,” Friedman wrote in Two Lucky People, his 1998 memoir. “Yet that was precisely what I was doing.”


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