How to "pay" for Bush Tax Cut for the Wealthy; Tipper Not Pressed on Homeless
1) ABC and NBC worried how to
"pay" for Bush's tax cut as NBC stressed how it's "even
more expensive" than the House plan. CNN's Brooks Jackson fretted
over how it doesn't aid those who don't pay income taxes with "no
relief at all for millions at the bottom."
2) Clinton delivered the
usual partisan rant about "risky tax cuts" that would have
destroyed the Social Security surplus. The Washington Post cited the quote
as evidence that Clinton avoided "sharp partisan rhetoric" and
was "rather dispassionate."
3) Andy Rooney espoused
Jesse Ventura-like views of religion, writing in his new book that people
only believe in God "because they're insecure."
4) Today and The Early Show
featured looks at Tipper Gore's photos of the homeless, but neither show
asked her about the Clinton-Gore record on reducing it. CBS's Jane
Clayson asked: "What do you think that your legacy will be as the
wife of the Vice President?"
5) The media are biased
against Hillary Clinton, Jonathan Alter argued in Newsweek, citing
"right-winger" Rupert Murdoch for the New York Post's bias
against her and complaining there's no "countervailing
tabloid" in New York for balance. Really?
to "pay" for George W. Bush's tax cut idea and does it help
everyone, or as CNN argued, did Bush ignore "millions of Americans at
Violence in the streets
of Seattle and the WTO meeting led all the network evening shows Wednesday
night, but all also ran pieces assessing George W. Bush's tax cut plan.
ABC and NBC assumed all the money in America belongs to the government and
so a way will have to be found to "pay" for any tax cut. ABC
anchor Jack Ford referred to "paying for the cut," while NBC's
David Bloom warned "Bush's plan is even more expensive than the
Republican tax cut President Clinton vetoed last summer" and
suggested Bush not only has raised a lot of money, he's trying to show
he has the "best ideas about how to spend it."
CBS's Bob Schieffer
described Bush's plan as more reasonable than what his opponents are
pushing, asserting: "Bush's plan follows fairly mainstream
Republican thinking and avoids the more exotic flat tax plans." CNN
The World Today anchor Wolf Blitzer offered the oddest introduction of the
night: "The Republican race for the White House turned nasty in Iowa
While NBC's David
Bloom declared the Bush cuts are "targeted especially at middle and
lower income families," CNN's Brooks Jackson pushed class warfare
by implying the tax cut is unfair since it doesn't cut income taxes for
those who don't pay income taxes: "What Governor Bush doesn't
mention is that his cut would give no relief at all for millions at the
(Bush's plan would
reduce the rate paid by those now in the 39.6 and 36 percent brackets to
33 percent, move those now paying 31 or 28 percent to 25 percent and have
those now at 15 percent only pay at a 10 percent rate. Plus, he'd phase
out the inheritance tax and double the child credit to $1,000.)
Here's a rundown of
how the three broadcast networks, CNN and MSNBC handled the Bush tax cut
proposal on Wednesday night, December 1:
-- ABC's World News
Tonight. Anchor Jack Ford announced:
"Republican candidates are always trying to make
tax cuts a core issue. In political circles Governor Bush's sweeping
plan is seen as an attempt to shore up his conservative credentials while
also appealing to Democrats. Paying for the cut, and getting voters to buy
it, are another matter altogether."
Dean Reynolds noted that
Bush "unveiled a plan that gives a tax break to virtually
everybody." Reynolds ran through the basics of Bush's plan,
including reducing the income tax rates to three at 10, 25 and 33 percent,
as well as phasing out the inheritance tax and doubling the child credit.
Reynolds then offered reaction from Steve Forbes. Over video of Bush and
Forbes meeting each other at a gathering in Iowa, Reynolds reported:
"This morning, after he'd shaken Bush's hand,
GOP rival Steve Forbes was eager to pounce."
Steve Forbes: "I think it's a small tax cut
designed to get through the election, it's more political expediency and
I'm very surprised that his tutors couldn't have come up with
something better than this."
Reynolds concluded: "And the Democrats say
Bush's plan to use the U.S. budget surplus to pay for his tax cuts is
way too risky. But if Bush's bothered by all this criticism, he isn't
showing it so far."
Jack Ford then added:
"Speaking in Iowa today, Vice President Gore responded to Governor
Bush's tax plan. He said it's astonishing that Governor Bush can't
keep himself from using up the budget surplus."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan
Rather stressed divisiveness in the ranks instead of what Bush proposed:
"The politics of election year tax cuts erupted
today inside the ranks of Republicans seeking the presidential nomination.
The flashpoint: A huge tax cut trial balloon being floated by George W.
Bush the younger. Some of his rivals shoved back hard."
Bob Schieffer began by
claiming "It's starting to get tense among the Republicans."
After explaining how Forbes has produced an ad attacking Bush for thinking
about raising the Social Security retirement age and that Bush's tax cut
would be bigger than the one vetoed by Clinton this year, Schieffer went
through the basics of the proposal.
CBS viewers then heard Bush proclaim: "There are
only two things that can be done with the surplus. It can be used by
government as the President proposes or it can be used by Americans to
save and build and invest."
Schieffer picked up: "Although Democrats denounced
the plan as irresponsible, Bush's plan follows fairly mainstream
Republican thinking and avoids the more exotic flat tax plans advocated by
Forbes and some of the other candidates, whose reaction ranged from tepid
John McCain: "I want to make sure that it
doesn't take from the Social Security trust fund."
Forbes: "I'm very surprised that his tutors
couldn't have come up with something better than this."
Schieffer concluded: "So, the Republican
candidates have plenty to chew on as they head for the debate in New
Hampshire tomorrow night where they'll all be on the same stage for the
first time. And this puts the focus on domestic issues where frontrunner
Bush especially seems most comfortable."
-- CNN's The World
Today. Anchor Wolf Blitzer intoned:
"The Republican race for the White House turned
nasty in Iowa today when George W. Bush outlined $483 billion in tax cuts.
Conservative rival Steve Forbes attacked Bush's five year plan as being
in his words, 'something only the timid could love.' The Texas
Governor shot back: 'I think he likes to campaign by tearing down other
CNN then ran two
stories: Bruce Morton summarized the plan and the usually better than this
Brooks Jackson offered a slanted story assessing its impact on income
groups. Jackson began from the left:
"What Governor Bush doesn't mention is that his
cut would give no relief at all for millions at the bottom. Working
families, who earn too little to pay any income taxes now, but who do pay
payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, which the Bush plan
doesn't touch. No help for roughly 20 million working families -- about
one in every five. But above the lowest income levels, Bush would help
If you don't pay
income taxes why would you get an income tax cut? And if all "people
at the bottom" are paying is the FICA tax then in a sense they've
already gotten a 100 percent income tax cut.
Jackson moved on to note
that Bush contended his plan would cut to zero the income tax for 6
million families: "A family of four now starts paying income taxes on
income above $24,900 a year. Bush says under his plan, taxes would start
Jackson correctly noted
that "the rich would get a smaller percentage cut in tax rates,"
but then returned to liberal class warfare to make the insipid point that
those who pay more in taxes would get a bigger tax cut. Without labeling
Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) as liberal, he relayed their rhetoric about
"In dollar terms they pay more now and would get
more from Bush's plan. An analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice shows
taxpayers averaging about $30,000 a year would get an average cut of $501
when fully phased in. But those making an average of $837,000 a year,
would get an average cut of more than $50,000 a year."
Jackson concluded by
assuming someone must "pay" for tax cuts: "Would there be
money to pay for such huge cuts? Bush's plan assumes the economy will grow
2.7 percent per year, which is not unreasonable. The Congressional Budget
Office predicts 2.5 percent growth and the economy actually grew at a rate
of 5.5 percent growth in the last quarter. So the Bush tax plan is based
on mainstream economics, but such a massive cut would delay paying down
the national debt, and, by design, leave little or no room for other new
-- NBC Nightly News.
Plugging the upcoming story, anchor Tom Brokaw uniquely reminded viewers
of how George H.W. Bush broke his tax pledge: "And when we come back
here, NBC News In Depth tonight: Read his lips. George W. Bush outlines
his economic plan, including a huge package of tax cuts."
David Bloom opened the
subsequent story: "Saying the times demand a substantial tax cut, and
preaching what he calls the economics of inclusion, Governor Bush today
offered as the centerpiece of his economic plan a more than one trillion
dollar tax cut, targeted especially at middle and lower income
Bloom never explained
how he got to a "more than one trillion dollar tax cut" when
other stories referred to it as $483 billion one over five years, so Bloom
was probably making it sound bigger by going out ten years.
After mentioning the tax
rate reductions, Bloom got to its "expense," explaining:
"Bush would double the child tax credit to $1,000, meaning a typical
family of four, making $50,000 a year, would see their federal taxes cut
in half. But Bush's plan is even more expensive than the Republican tax
cut President Clinton vetoed last summer. And Vice President Gore calls it
risky, quote 'reckless tax scheme that would immediately put our country
back into deficits.' Bush counters that the budget surplus should be
returned to taxpayers, not spent by the government."
Bush: "What is risky is when politicians are given
charge of a surplus. There's a strong temptation to spend it and in
Washington that temptation is overwhelming."
Bloom, indirectly labeling the CTJ, relayed static
analysis assumptions, as if a tax cut would not generate any additional
economic activity that would create more tax revenue:
"But liberal critics say the numbers don't add
up. Why not? Because the Congressional Budget Office projects total
surpluses of only $463 billion over the first five years of Bush's plan.
But his tax cut alone would cost $483 billion, leaving no money for higher
defense or education spending."
Robert McIntyre, Citizens for Tax Justice:
"You'd need to either raid the Social Security Trust Fund or
you'd have to have gigantic cuts in everything else the government
Bloom concluded: "But Bush, using rosier economic
numbers, projects there'd be $100 billion left for extra spending, a
debate he relishes, hoping to prove he's not just the candidate with the
most money but the one with the best ideas about how to spend it."
MSNBC's The News with
Brian Williams also carried Bloom's piece, followed by some standard
liberal analysis from Chris Matthews. While Matthews may have been tough
on Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, Wednesday night he showed he
hasn't yet grown out of the redistributionist beliefs espoused by his
former boss, the late Tip O'Neill. Matthews told Brian Williams:
"It does help the middle class, but this is a very
good tax for well off people. It means that in your top bracket people are
going to drop seven points. That means you're going to get, if you make
a million dollars you're going to get $70,000 more back from the
government at the end of the year. It also means that you're not going
to pay any estate tax at all when you pass away, which is very good for
wealthy people like the Bush family."
Three comments: First,
going from 15 to 10 percent is a far greater percentage reduction in tax
rate than going from 39.6 to 33 percent. Second, since when did the
government create the wealth to give to the rich at the end of the year?
Third, dead people don't pay any inheritance tax now because it's hard
to pay taxes when you're dead.
partisan liberal rhetoric seen as "dispassionate" by one
reporter. Signing the $390 billion spending bill Monday, the last of the
$1.8 trillion budget for 2000, President Clinton delivered the usual
partisan rant about how the budget "avoids risky tax cuts" that
would have destroyed the Social Security surplus and "drained our
ability to advance education."
Nothing remarkable about that, but the Washington Post
cited the quote as evidence that Clinton avoided "sharp partisan
rhetoric" and was "rather dispassionate."
Check out this two
paragraph sequence in the middle of reporter Charles Babington's
November 30 story. (At the end of the first paragraph he advanced another
canard about how the House-proposed tax cut would have forced
"steep" spending cuts when it actually only would have cut taxes
by 0.4 percent in 2000 and 0.9 percent in 2001.):
"The budget bill's most important feature is
something it lacks rather than contains. In September, Clinton vetoed the
Republicans' biggest fiscal initiative, a $791 billion, 10-year tax cut,
which would have triggered steep spending cuts.
"Eschewing the sharp partisan rhetoric that had
colored much of the budget debate, Clinton yesterday was rather
dispassionate, saying simply that the budget bill 'avoids risky tax cuts
that would have spent hundreds of billions of dollars from the Social
Security surplus and drained our ability to advance education and other
important public purposes.'"
I guess when you agree
with the rhetoric it seems "dispassionate."
Ventura, meet Andy Rooney. A USA Today item last week revealed that the 60
Minutes commentator has as little respect for religion as does Jesse
In his Inside TV column
on November 23 USA Today's Peter Johnson looked at Rooney's new book
of letters he's written, Sincerely, Andy Rooney:
"He's merciless with lawyers ('I think they blow
an awful lot of smoke'), dismissive of people who ask for his autograph
('I'm not someone important enough to have his autograph saved'), and
skeptical, at best, about religion. People look toward God, he says,
'because they're insecure. They don't think they're smart enough to
handle their own lives. If their life depends on some other force other
than their own intelligence, they think they're more apt to live happily
and successfully.' But the majority of letters are, like Rooney,
of the homeless taken by Tipper Gore are now on display at a Washington
art gallery, prompting appearances by Mrs. Gore on NBC's Today and
CBS's The Early Show this week, but on neither program was she asked
about the Clinton-Gore record over seven years in addressing homelessness
even though NBC's Matt Lauer called it "a very serious
Instead, NBC's Bob Faw
focused on how her photos give the homeless "hope and dignity"
and allowed her to claim she's "acknowledging their humanity."
The Early Show's Jane Clayson told Gore "You have always said that
your priority is your children and your family." Clayson asked such
tough questions as: "You're a new grandma, how's it going?" And:
"What do you think that your legacy will be as the wife of the Vice
President, what do you hope it will be?"
NBC's Today on
November 30 played a taped piece about Tipper Gore by Bob Faw. As
transcribed by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, Matt Lauer introduced the
"As the wife of the Vice President there are many
national issues that vie for Tipper Gore's time. But there is one issue
that's quietly captured her attention for more than 20 years.
Homelessness. And now she is using one of her great passions, photography,
to grab the spotlight for this very serious problem."
Bob Faw began: "We
have never been richer and still they are everywhere. Huddled over
steaming grates or curled up in their cardboard sanctuaries. This new
exhibition at Washington's Corcoran Gallery intends to recast that image.
That, at least, is why the Vice President's wife displayed ten photographs
she has taken over the last 25 years."
After showing some of
the photos and getting comments from Gore about the people in them, Faw
oozed: "Meeting them, capturing their struggles and their strength on
film taught Tipper Gore a lesson then and now....Mrs. Gore says she's
changed over the years but that her technique has not. That first she
forges a bond with her subject and always asks permission to
Faw continued: "At
this exhibition, just a stone's throw from the White House, there is
something ironic, even faintly absurd about people who have absolutely
nothing being celebrated by a woman who has virtually everything. She
lives in a splendid government mansion, fully staffed, always protected.
She insists though that none of that changes the way the homeless relate
sequence: "And the candidate's wife has an answer for cynics who
grumble that she is exploiting the homeless. 'Unlike most people,' she
says, 'I'm acknowledging their humanity.'"
Gore, over video of
pedestrians bypassing a beggar: "People don't look them in the eye.
They tell me this. They say people act as if I'm not alive, as if I'm a
Faw: "And ordinarily they are unless they make
news in Denver where police now believe a crazed killer had decapitated
seven homeless men or in New York City where Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
ordered the arrest of homeless people who will not use shelters. In this
gallery, which traditionally presents the grand masters, that image of the
homeless is undergoing a change."
Gore: "Photojournalism is the art of communicating
a serious subject to the viewer."
Faw: "It's not just to look at them and react to
them it's to cause the viewer to do something?"
Faw: "Here where the homeless are given hope and
CBS's The Early Show
on December 1 demonstrated that Bryant Gumbel is not the show's only
liberal co-host who will go soft on liberal guests. As taken down by the
MRC's Brian Boyd, here's every "question" Clayson posed to
-- "It's a
wonderful project with wonderful photographs. How did you come up with the
-- Clayson: "Now, are some of your photographs in
there as well?"
-- "I know you yourself have gone out to the
streets of Washington many times. I've heard in jeans and a T-shirt to
help the homeless. Why is it so important to you?"
-- "You have published your own book a few years
ago. Some wonderful photographs in that as well. You say when you see
something significant you just want to pick up a camera and take a picture
of it. Where does that love of photography come from?"
-- "I was on the campaign trail with the Vice
President a few months ago in California and I'll never forget at one stop
when he was giving a speech in a room full of dignitaries and guests, I
looked up and there you were behind him at the podium snapping photos of
him as he was giving his speech. I thought it was wonderful, but does it
ever bother him or is he just used to it."
-- "Most of the pictures that you take of your
family and of the Vice President show a different side of him. Do you
think most Americans know who Al Gore really is?" [CBS showed photos
of Al without a shirt and playing in a pool]
-- "And what do you think they should know that
-- "So many jokes are made, Mrs. Gore, of your
husband being so stiff and formal. Why do you think that that perception
-- "This new Al Gore that we've been seeing lately
in sweaters instead of the button-up suits, is that more of the Al Gore
that you know?"
-- "You have always said that your priority is
your children and your family, if you had to do it all over again -- life
in Washington -- would you do anything differently as it relates to your
-- "I have to ask you about, you're a new grandma,
and how's it going?"
-- "And do grandma and grandpa get to see him
[Tipper and Al's grandson] very often?"
-- "Mrs. Gore, what do you think that your legacy
will be as the wife of the Vice President, what do you hope it will
-- "And are you ready to get back on the campaign
trail pretty vigorously now coming up?"
-- "Well, we appreciate your coming in and best of
luck with the exhibit in Washington. How long will that last?"
Not quite the approach
the media took during the Reagan and Bush years when they were quick to
blame them for homelessness. As a 1996 MediaWatch study by the MRC's Tim
Graham found, media interest in the homeless fell upon Clinton's
inauguration. The February 1996 study of 1989 through 1995 coverage on the
ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC evening shows, "The Incredible Shrinking
In the Bush years (1989-1992), the number
of homeless stories per year averaged 52.5, but in the first three years
of the Clinton administration, the average dropped to 25.3 stories a year.
During the Bush administration, the story
count grew from 44 in 1989 to a peak of 71 in 1990, followed by 54 stories
in 1991 and 43 in 1992. By contrast, stories on America's homeless dipped
slightly to 35 stories in 1993, and 32 in 1994. In 1995, the number fell
dramatically to just nine....
While the stories in the Bush era regularly
blamed Republican administrations, not one of the 75 homeless stories in
the last three years has placed any blame on the Clinton administration.
To read the full study,
morning the MRC's Eric Pairel and Andy Szul will post on the MRC's Web
site, in RealPlayer format, a portion of the Clayson interview of Gore so
you can see some of the photos.
In this week's Newsweek Jonathan Alter inveighed against
"right-winger" Rupert Murdoch for his newspaper's bias against
the First Lady without a "countervailing tabloid" for balance.
Here's part of
the lead item from this week's MagazineWatch, about the December 6
issues, compiled by Mark Drake and edited by Tim Graham:
In Newsweek, Jonathan Alter's "Why
It's Time to Let Loose" warned readers not to count Hillary out and
complained about media bias against the first lady: "The last four
months have been miserable for Hillary, and she has mostly herself to
blame. But it's not too late. To overcome bias against her in the press --
and to take the edge off the monumental chutzpah it took to run in the
first place -- she needs to look beyond merely correcting her political
Alter rebuked the New York Post and its
publisher Rupert Murdoch for their coverage of Hillary: "To turn
every miscue into a fiasco, Hillary can always depend on the New York
Post. The Post is now a Gotham City symbol -- as New York as a bagel with
a shmeer. While the tabloid, owned by right-winger Rupert Murdoch, has a
circulation of only 437,000, it sets the tone for the rest of the media.
News magazines (including Newsweek) and cable networks use the clever
screaming headlines to represent the pulse of the city; local TV swims in
currents created by the paper's coverage. Almost everyone usually fails to
mention that the paper is biased against the Clintons. And there's no
countervailing tabloid. When the Post ran its SHAME ON HILLARY headline,
the New York Daily News, a more objective paper, did not cover a crackdown
on street people with GIULIANI TO HOMELESS: DROP DEAD."
No countervailing newspaper? Millions of
New Yorkers read the liberal dailies: The New York Times, the Daily News,
and Newsday. But Alter complained they're "more objective."
Here's two actual headlines from last week's Daily News on Giuliani
and the homeless. On Tuesday: "RUDY PLOWING AHEAD WITH PLAN TO ROUST
HOMELESS." On Friday: "THE MAYOR TARGETS US LIKE PREY SAY
This is more objective?
Other items in
this week's edition:
remarkably stressed Hillary's "disastrous" kiss of Mrs. Arafat
and the political ties between Hillary and racial demagogue Al Sharpton.
-- Newsweek presented an excerpt from their
reporter Bill Turque's new book Inventing Al Gore, which tenderly cast
doubt on the Vice President's claim he never received any special
treatment during the Vietnam War, since he was advised by Army Chief of
Staff William Westmoreland.
-- Columnist John Leo noted his U.S. News editors
wanted to remove the word "pro-lifers" from a recent column and
replace it with "abortion opponents."
-- U.S. News reporter Franklin Foer looked at the
relationship between religion and politics in American life and portrayed
Al Gore as a "centrist Democrat" with a "social
To read these
items, go to:
debate in New Hampshire, the first in which Bush will show up, will be
shown nationally live from 8 to 9:30pm ET on the Fox News Channel, which
is co-sponsoring it with WMUR-TV. C-SPAN will show it on tape at 5:30am ET
Friday morning. --
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