Issue Taxes

Sturdy Lifeboat


Museum of the Moving Image
The Living Room Candidate - Transcript
"Sturdy Lifeboat," Eisenhower, 1952


MALE NARRATOR: Eisenhower answers America.

MAN: General, I'd like to get married, but we couldn't live on the salary I get after taxes.

EISENHOWER: Well, the Democrats are sinking deeper into a bottomless sea of debt and demanding more taxes to keep their confused heads above water. Let's put on a sturdy life boat in November.


"Sturdy Lifeboat," Citizens for Eisenhower, 1952

Maker: Rosser Reeves for Ted Bates and Co.

Video courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

From Museum of the Moving Image, The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012. (accessed April 20, 2024).


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A mainstay of electoral politics is the public’s perception that by raising taxes, the government is unfairly taking hard-earned money away from its people.
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Sturdy Lifeboat Boy on Bicycle Workers: Tax Reductions Reaganomics Federal Taxes Second
In the 1952 Eisenhower ad “Sturdy Lifeboat,” the Democrats “are demanding more taxes to keep their confused heads above water.”
Barry Goldwater called for lower taxes, claiming a desire “to make government more the servant and not the master of us all.”
Although lower tax rates generally benefit the wealthiest individuals and corporations, most ads about tax cuts focus on the working class, as in Gerald Ford’s 1976 ad “Workers: Tax Reductions.”
When Walter Mondale announced during his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention that he would raise taxes in order to reduce the growing deficit, he left himself open to the damaging ad “Reaganomics.”
Bush countered the attack by claiming that Clinton’s tax increases would be worse than his in “Federal Taxes,” which invited viewers to call 1-800-MEGATAX for more information.

Similarly, George Bush’s broken promise “Read my lips, no new taxes” was used against him in Bill Clinton’s 1992 ad “Second.”