Sep 15 2008

If only reporters understood economics

Category: economy,election 2008,McCain,media,Obama,Palin,politics,taxesharmonicminer @ 3:57 pm

Sarah Palin criticizes Obama’s tax plans, and the AP seems to think it has corrected her, by stating an irrelevant piece of data. (not to mention a largely wrong one)

Campaigning on her own, the Alaska governor also said Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama “wants to raise income taxes and raise payroll taxes and raise investment income taxes and raise business taxes and raise the death tax.

“But John McCain and I know that’s not the way you grow the economy,” she added.

In fact, independent groups such as the Tax Policy Center have concluded that four out of five U.S. households would receive tax cuts under Obama’s proposal, which include higher income and payroll taxes only for the wealthiest wage-earners.

Note that Palin did not say that Obama was going to raise everyone‘s taxes.  But the AP responds with a “fact check” from the Tax Policy Center that implies she did.  Surely this is simple failure to understand plain English. 

Speaking of plain English, four out of five U.S. households cannot receive income tax cuts, because two out of five U.S. households pay no income tax at all.  The last time I looked, two plus four does not equal five, a fact that apparently escapes both the AP and the Tax Policy Center.  Giving “tax cuts” in the guise of “refunds” to people who would not pay tax anyway is not a tax cut, it’s welfare, plain and simple.  It’s old fashioned socialistic confiscation/redistribution.

Speaking of the “independent” Tax Policy Center, while it is not directly affiliated with either party, it is most assuredly Left leaning, and usually favors Democratic policies.  They are sometimes subtle about it (although not in this case, calling a give-away a “tax cut”), but they are not possessed of Olympian detachment.

It would be more impressive (as journalism goes) to match the perspective of the Tax Policy Center with one from the Club for Growth, or the CATO Institute.  Both of these are also “independent” and “nonpartisan”, but simply more likely to lean Right. 

You can form your own opinion about why the AP would not seek their input in interpreting Palin’s statements.  I have mine.

In the meantime, what Palin said, quite clearly, is that if all of Obama’s tax plans are carried out, regardless of whether low-tax payers and non-tax payers get a short term “tax cut”, the economy is far less likely to grow vigorously than under McCain’s plan.  That economic growth would provide much more benefit to low- and non-tax payers than a single short term check, whether “tax cut” or “welfare”.

Go back and read her quote.  The APs rejoinder, masked as input from an “independent” think tank, is completely irrelevant to the point.

Embarrassingly, the AP seems not to know that.

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