CBS Challenges Don Evans on Tax Cut But Not John Breaux
On Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer and Washington Post reporter Dan Balz pressed Commerce Secretary Don Evans to justify the tax cut given how it will hike the deficit and is skewed toward the rich, but the duo refused to challenge Democratic Senator John Breaux. Balz lectured Evans: "You're doing an enormous amount for those at the upper end of the bracket, and for people who pay payroll and Social Security taxes but no income taxes you're doing nothing. What's the equity in a plan like that?"
Al Hunt Equates Bush Tax Cut to Teapot Dome
On the weekend debate shows the panelists who are journalists for mainstream outlets condemned Bush's tax cut. Eleanor Clift charged, "This is class warfare against millions of Americans..." Al Hunt: "It's crumbs for about 99 million, and then it's caviar for the very top." Hunt scurrilously claimed Bush and Cheney made the proposal for personal gain: "You got to go back to Teapot Dome to find such a fleecing. This time it's legal. Bloomberg reported that George W. Bush himself, $44,000 tax break here. Dick Cheney, $327,000 tax break."
NY Times Distorts Impact of Tax Cut on Family
In offering an example of how a typical family, the father of whom dismissed the tax cut plan as "unimpressive," would not benefit much from Bush's tax cut plan, a New York Times story distorted the impact on the only family cited, a Washington Times editorial documented on Friday.
WashPost Showcases Left Wing Group's Class Warfare Numbers
A Washington Post story on Friday gave prominence to numbers from a left-wing group. "Who Would Benefit" read the heading over the only table in the story, with this subhead: "Three-fifths of President Bush's tax cut would go to the wealthiest 10 percent of all taxpayers in 2003, according to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice." But buried in the article was how the Bush plan, by removing more people from the income tax rolls, would shift the tax burden even more onto the shoulders of the wealthier.
Tony Snow Suggests Poorer Not Paying Fair Share
A fresh, contrarian take. In his "Parting Thoughts" on Fox News Sunday, Tony Snow observed how "the poor get the largest proportional tax breaks, the richest the smallest" and that the "tax code right now is insanely imbalanced. Half the public pays nearly 100 percent of the income taxes, which mocks the idea that citizenship demands that each person pull his or her weight."
6. Kennedy Would've "Brought Comfort" to Kopechne "in Her Old Age"
In a Boston Globe Magazine tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy, Globe staffer Charles Pierce asserted: "If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age." On Fox News Sunday, Tony Snow dubbed that "the macabre political observation of the year."
7. NBC's Senator Sterling: Bush a Bad President
NBC's Senator Sterling is an anti-capital gains tax cut liberal who doesn't think George W. Bush is a good President. He learns not to trust Wall Street Journal editorials.
CBS Challenges Don Evans on Tax Cut
But Not John Breaux
A classic case of the mainstream media's liberal hostility to President Bush's tax cut plan. On Sunday's Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer and Washington Post reporter Dan Balz repeatedly pressed Commerce Secretary Don Evans to justify the tax cut given how it will supposedly increase the deficit and is skewed toward the rich, but Schieffer and Balz refused to challenge Democratic Senator John Breaux. Instead, they prompted him to assess the fairness and reasonableness of various aspects of the Bush plan.
Schieffer demanded the Evans explain the rationale for raising the deficit before Balz echoed Tom Daschle: "You're doing an enormous amount for those at the upper end of the bracket, and for people who pay payroll and Social Security taxes but no income taxes you're doing nothing. What's the equity in a plan like that?"
But with Breaux, Schieffer just wanted him to assess the chances of passage. Balz treated Breaux as a wise sage. Noting how the Democratic plan will cost $130 billion and the Republican one comes in a $670 billion, Balz wondered: "Do you have a number in mind as to what you think is both fiscally responsible and good for the economy?"
Balz then highlighted what he considered a failure in Bush's plan: "One of the issues that the President ignored in his plan is the fiscal plight of the states. There's a tremendous problem in the states in terms of hemorrhaging money this year. Do you favor a package that includes significant fiscal help for the states?"
Finally, Schieffer expresses disappointment in how Breaux had not raised the liberal mantra of "class warfare." Schieffer wanted to know: "Do you think this is class warfare that's going on here?"
How Schieffer opened the January 12 program foreshadowed the angle of the questioning: "Today on Face the Nation, President Bush's tax cut. Can the nation afford it? President Bush says his $670 billion economic plan will create jobs and help the economy, but it will also drive up the deficit. Is that a good idea with a possibility of war with Iraq looming?"
Now, a more complete rundown of the disparity in the angle of questions posed to Evans versus Breaux by Schieffer and his co-host, Dan
Questions to Evans:
Schieffer: "This administration had a surplus of $237 billion when you came to office. Now that's turned into a deficit of over $100 billion, part of that because of tax cuts, but most of it, I think most people would agree, because of the war on terrorism, a cost that I think many people would be willing to support. But I ask you that because now you're coming up with another plan to cut taxes that is going to drive the deficit even higher. Why is that a wise thing to do, especially now with the possibility of a war with Iraq, which can only drive the deficit higher?"
Evans: "Well, because it's going to drive the economic growth of this country higher...."
Schieffer: "But I'm old enough to remember when conservatives didn't like red-ink spending. You're saying now that this deficit, and you're talking about a deficit that may go to $300 billion before we get into a war, and you are saying that is a manageable number. How high would a deficit have to go to be, in your view, unmanageable?"
Balz: "Mr. Secretary, there's been a lot of criticism of this plan in the way that it is seemingly tilted toward the wealthy. One estimate says that millionaires would get $88,000 or $89,000 additional income, whereas people at the $40,000 level would get about a 1 percent increase in their income, net income. You've said all week, 'Nobody wins unless we all win,' and yet you're doing an enormous amount for those at the upper end of the bracket, and for people who pay payroll and Social Security taxes but no income taxes you're doing nothing. What's the equity in a plan like that?"
Evans countered: "The direct benefit is to 92 million taxpayers an average of about $1,100 a year. Not just this year, but next year and the year after and the year after. Forty-six million married couples, they'll receive an average savings of $1,700 a year this year, next year, the following year....
Balz: "Let us ask you about the political feasibility of this plan. You had a dozen Democrats support the President's plan in 2001. Three of those are gone at this point. The other nine have had not very good things to say or nothing to say about this plan. There are at least half a dozen Republicans who have indicated they have serious reservations about one or another elements of this plan. How are you going to get this passed through the Senate?"
Schieffer: "Let me just ask you one other thing, when we talk about the cost of this, as you go up to the Hill. The House majority leader, Tom DeLay, says these proposals are just the floor. They're not going to be a ceiling on tax cuts. He said he may add in a cut on capital gains. Would you be in favor of that?"
Schieffer: "I have to ask you also about the heart of your plan. Half of it goes to eliminating the tax on stock dividends. Even the chairman of the Finance Committee, Chuck Grassley, says he doesn't think that there's the votes to pass that. Would you be willing to scale back that?"
Schieffer: "You heard the Secretary of Commerce lay out the reasons why he thinks the plan ought to be passed, but my
sense of it is at this point that the administration simply does not have the votes to pass any component of this plan. What's your analysis?"
Breaux: "I would agree with that..."
Schieffer: "You supported the president's tax cut the last time around. Can you support this one?"
Long answer short: things were different then.
Balz: "The House Democrats have put forward a package of about $130 billion in comparison to the president's $670 billion. Do you have a number in mind as to what you think is both fiscally responsible and good for the economy?"
Balz: "Do you have a view about the proposed acceleration of the reduction in the top income brackets? The President wants to reduce all the brackets and accelerate those changes. What about the top brackets? Would you slow that down?"
Schieffer: "I want to get back to the cost of this package because you heard Secretary Evans say this morning that he thinks these deficits that we used to talk about being enormous -- I mean, talking about $300 billion deficits -- he's saying that that's manageable. Do you think that's manageable?"
Balz: "One of the issues that the President ignored in his plan is the fiscal plight of the states. There's a tremendous problem in the states in terms of hemorrhaging money this year. Do you favor a package that includes significant fiscal help for the states?"
-- When Breaux expressed concern about bailing out states, Balz countered: "But if you have a situation in which we are cutting income taxes and other taxes at the federal level and states are raising it, won't that wipe out any of the stimulative effect and many of those states will have to cut education and health care to people. What's the equity of that approach?"
-- Schieffer wrapped up the session by asking Breaux "sort of what's become the Democratic mantra, is this class warfare? Do you think this is class warfare that's going on here?"
Al Hunt Equates Bush Tax Cut to Teapot Dome
It's unanimous: On the three big weekend debate shows, Inside Washington, McLaughlin Group and CNN's Capital Gang, the panelists who are also journalists for mainstream outlets all condemned Bush's tax cut proposal, with Al Hunt scurrilously claiming Bush and Cheney are making the proposal for personal gain: "You got to go back to Teapot Dome to find such a fleecing. This time it's legal. Bloomberg reported that George W. Bush himself, $44,000 tax break here. Dick Cheney, $327,000 tax break."
From the shows which aired on January 11:
-- Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas on Inside Washington: "It could hurt the economy. I'm actually with the Democrats on this because I think it could hurt the economy in the long run by creating higher deficits which would cause higher interest rates. So I think there's a long term cost about this. It's also a little unfair. If they want to give a tax break they probably ought to be doing it at the lower end of the economic scale."
-- Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Group: "This is a plan heavily skewed to the rich which does nothing to stimulate the economy in the immediate short term. It's a big bribery of the right wing, basically....This is class warfare against millions of Americans who will not get the benefit and on young people who will have to pay off that tab this President is running up. The deficits are totally irresponsible."
-- Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang: "It's crumbs for about 99 million, and then it's caviar for the very top. This is a, this is a bad proposal. Kate says it's bold. Well, the Clinton health care plan was bold too. Bold does not mean good, and this is bad. It won't create jobs, it's not going to stimulate the economy, it will exacerbate the income disparity in America....It'll be a bonanza for the rich....
"I'll tell you who else is incredibly enthusiastic about this is the Bush cabinet. You got to go back to Teapot Dome to find such a fleecing. This time it's legal. Bloomberg reported that George W. Bush himself, $44,000 tax break here. Dick Cheney, $327,000 tax break."
I'd bet the Hunt/Woodruff household is in Bush's league.
NY Times Distorts Impact of Tax Cut on Family
In offering proof of how a typical family, the father of whom dismissed the tax cut plan as "unimpressive," would not benefit much from Bush's tax cut plan, a Wednesday New York Times story, by ignoring major provisions, distorted the impact on the only family cited in the story, a Washington Times editorial documented on Friday.
An excerpt of the January 10 editorial:
No sooner had President Bush unveiled his bold economic stimulus and growth proposals Tuesday in Chicago than the New York Times dispatched a photographer to the President's previous home base of Austin, Texas. Before sundown, the photographer had located the Moorheads, a family that would have made Norman Rockwell reach for the paint.
There they were -- Mr. and Mrs. Moorhead and their three extremely photogenic children -- splashed across the top of page A17 in a 51-square-inch photo, by far the largest the Times published in its national section that day. The caption: "Bee and Robert Moorhead of Austin, Tex., with their children, from left, Owen, Ethan and Oona, said the president's plan was unimpressive."
Unimpressive? Yes, indeed. And just so the reader got the point, here's how reporter Edmund L. Andrews described the views of the only real-life family profiled in the article. "For Robert and Bee Moorhead of Austin, Tex., who together earn about $88,000, the Bush plan is not impressive," Mr. Andrews reported. "Though they both have good jobs -- she as a director of a nonprofit group and he as a multimedia developer at a textbook publisher -- they have only about $1,000 in stocks and virtually no dividend income."
Other than the fact that he knew he would not currently benefit from the President's proposal to eliminate the double taxation of dividends, Mr. Moorhead clearly had no idea how his family would be affected by the President's stimulus plan. And, evidently, the Times had no intention of informing him. Why get in the way of a great quote? "They're trying to sell this once again as trickle-down economics," Mr. Moorhead conveniently observed, using the favorite pejorative of the Democrats and the Times to ridicule
As it happens, the Times' poster family would make a killing under the Bush plan. Effective immediately. No, sooner than that. Effective Jan. 1. No fewer than four separate tax cuts would shave more than 30 percent off the Moorheads' federal income-tax bill. Assuming the Moorheads take the standard deduction....the Editorial Page of The Washington Times has prepared 1040s for the Moorheads under current law and under the Bush plan. Their federal income taxes would plunge nearly $3,000, falling from about $9,600 to about $6,600.
- Rather than incrementally eliminate the marriage penalty from 2005 through 2009, the Bush plan eliminates it immediately. By our calculations, that would save the Moorheads $1,522.50....
- The Bush plan would increase the per-child tax credit from $600 to $1,000. The Moorheads would receive their $1,200 windfall (three children at $400 each) in a rebate check.
- The Moorheads would pocket another $154 because their top marginal tax rate of 27 percent would be reduced to 25 percent.
- The Moorheads would save another $100, as the income limit for the 10 percent tax bracket was increased from $12,000 to $14,000....
END of Excerpt
For the entirety of the editorial:
For the January 8 New York Times story in question, "Plan Gives Most Benefits to Wealthy and Families," check:
WashPost Showcases Left Wing Group's
Class Warfare Numbers
E.J. Dionne appeared Saturday afternoon on FNC's Weekend Live with Tony Snow to promote his preposterous contention that conservatives dominate the media and have kowtowed any media liberals into silence, a premise undermined by the mainstream media's enthusiastic promotion of how the proposed Bush tax cut helps the rich and ignores everyone else, a pattern documented in the items above and illustrated by a particularly slanted story in Dionne's own paper on Friday.
(Dionne, a former New York Times and Washington Post political reporter, is now a columnist syndicated by the Washington Post. For an excerpt from Dionne's December 6 column in which he cited the intimidation by the "ever-alert" Media Research Center, go to:
A January 10 Post story, pegged to a speech by President Bush promoting his plan, was illustrated not by a table conveying Bush's points or by two tables showing how liberals and conservatives see the impact of the tax cut, but by just one table relaying the claims of the left-wing Citizens for Tax Justice. "Who Would Benefit" read the heading over the table which related CTJ's Marxist attack: "Three-fifths of President Bush's tax cut would go to the wealthiest 10 percent of all taxpayers in 2003, according to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice."
But buried in the 8th paragraph of the story was how the Bush plan, by removing more people from the income tax rolls, mainly by raising the child deduction, would actually shift the tax burden even more onto the shoulders of the wealthier: "Treasury figures show the share of the tax burden borne by those earning more than $100,000 would rise from 72.4 percent to 73.3 percent."
An excerpt from the Post story, "Bush Defends Tax Cut Proposal; Plan Draws Ire Of Democrats, GOP Moderates," by Dana Milbank and Chris Jenkins:
....The president traveled to a company in Alexandria that manufactures flags for the presidential limousine, where he argued that his $670 billion tax cut plan would provide substantial benefits for small businesses and moderate-income families. Bush, in his remarks, referred to several middle-income families who he said would pay sharply less in income taxes....
"You hear a lot of talk in Washington, of course, that this benefits so-and-so or this benefits this, the kind of the class warfare of politics," he said. "Let me just give you the facts that, under this plan, a family of four with an income of $40,000 will receive a 96 percent reduction in federal income taxes."...
A calculation of the effect of Bush's proposal done by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute found that the top 1 percent of Americans, those with incomes of $374,000 or more, would get 28.3 percent of Bush's tax cut, an average benefit of $24,428, or a 3.5 percent increase in income. The 20 percent of Americans in the middle, those earning $29,000 to $46,000, would get 6.1 percent of the benefit of Bush's plan, an average benefit of $265 or an increase in income of 0.9 percent.
A calculation done by the liberal group Citizens for Tax Justice produced similar results, finding that the top 10 percent of earners, those above $104,000 in income, would get an average tax cut of $5,578, or 60 percent of the total benefit, while the bottom 60 percent, those earning less than $46,000, would receive an average cut of $131, or 8.5 percent of the total benefit....
A senior Treasury Department official interviewed yesterday said it is true that wealthier Americans get a larger percentage increase in their after-tax incomes than those at the lower end of the scale. But he said they get a smaller percentage decrease in their taxes. As a result, Treasury figures show, the share of the tax burden borne by those earning more than $100,000 would rise from 72.4 percent to 73.3 percent....
END of Excerpt
For the Post story in full:
Tony Snow Suggests Poorer Not Paying
You read it here first/great minds think alike. In his "Parting Thoughts" on Fox News Sunday, moderator/host Tony Snow observed how "the poor get the largest proportional tax breaks, the richest the smallest" and that the "tax code right now is insanely imbalanced. Half the public pays nearly 100 percent of the income taxes, which mocks the idea that citizenship demands that each person pull his or her weight."
That reminded me of how I had discerned in the January 9 CyberAlert how "those much below $40,000 with two kids already live tax-free, a situation the Bush plan would compound in moving millions more into a situation of paying little or no income tax, a trend which should concern conservatives since it means more people will be able to vote for increased government spending without fear of having to pay for it -- just the kind of angle a less liberal media would pursue."
Snow's closing comments on the January 12 Fox News Sunday:
"There's a dull sameness to the debate about tax cuts, especially from the opposition. The President, say his foes, want to pay off the rich. Here are the numbers they cite in support: The top one percent gets $30,000 bucks back, on average, the poorest get a lousy six.
"This is true, but misleading. Now consider a different take, this one supplied by the White House. Two key facts emerge: First, the plan makes the income tax even more progressive. Families earning more than $100,000 would pay -- get this -- 73.3 percent of the total income tax burden. Families earning less than $50,000, only 2.9 percent. Second, the poor get the largest proportional tax breaks, the richest the smallest.
"Now, the really troubling part. Our tax code right now is insanely imbalanced. Half the public pays nearly 100 percent of the income taxes, which mocks the idea that citizenship demands that each person pull his or her weight.
"Two generations ago, as Paul [Gigot] pointed out moments ago, Americans celebrated success and urged kids to do well and accumulate wealth. We're now on the verge of a society that cleaves into two classes: Those who pay taxes and those who get tax money from Uncle Sam.
"The allegation that the President is beggaring the poor is hooey, and proponents know it. The real question is whether the White House realizes that its own plan is an agent for making envy not merely respectable, but further establishing it as the law of the land."
I'm confident that's not a line of inquiry that would ever occur to Schieffer or Balz (see item #1 above).
The January 9 CyberAlert noted how a Tax Foundation report documented how those in the top one percent, top five percent, top ten percent, top 25 percent and top 50 percent all pay a greater share of the income taxes collected in 2000 than they earned as a share of overall income.
The MRC's Rich Noyes passed along the complete set of numbers which support Snow's concern:
-- The top one percent of Americans earn over $313,469. They account for 20.8 percent of all income earned in the U.S., but pay 37.4 percent of income taxes.
-- The top five percent of Americans earn over $128,336. They account for 35.3 percent of all income earned in the U.S., but pay 56.5 percent of income taxes.
-- The top 10 percent of Americans earn over $92,114. They account for 46.0 percent of all income earned in the U.S., but pay 67.3 percent of income taxes.
-- The top 25 percent of Americans earn over $55,225. They account for 67.2 percent of all income earned in the U.S., but pay 84.0 percent of income taxes.
-- The top 50 percent of Americans earn over $27,682. They account for 87.0 percent of all income earned in the U.S., but pay 96.1 percent of income taxes.
-- But, the bottom 50 percent of Americans, who earn less than $27,682, account for 13.0 percent of all income earned in the U.S., yet pay just 3.9 percent of income taxes collected.
For the November 2002 Tax Foundation report in PDF format:
Kennedy Would've "Brought Comfort"
to Kopechne "in Her Old Age"
In what Tony Snow all too accurately dubbed, in the "Below the Fold" segment on Fox News Sunday, as "the macabre political observation of the year," in a Boston Globe Magazine tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy, veteran Globe staffer Charles Pierce asserted: "If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age."
Wow. That's some rationalization.
Kopechne was the woman who drown while trapped in Kennedy's car on Chappaquiddick Island off Martha's Vineyard in 1969.
James Taranto first highlighted the quote in the Thursday edition of his "Best of the Web" column for OpinionJournal.com
Here's the paragraph in full from the piece in the January 5 Boston Globe Magazine: "And that's the key. That's how you survive what he's survived. That's how you move forward, one step after another, even though your name is Edward Moore Kennedy. You work, always, as though your name were Edward Moore. If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age."
"Kennedy Unbound" read the headline over the profile. The fawning subhead: "After 40 years in the U.S. Senate, Edward M. Kennedy has transcended the family mythology and become his own man." See it for yourself online at:
NBC's Senator Sterling: Bush a Bad President
NBC's Senator Sterling is a liberal who doesn't think George W. Bush is a good President.
In an interview Friday night on MSNBC's Hardball, which aired after the EST/CST debut of Mr. Sterling, NBC's new show about an appointed U.S. Senator from California, Chris Matthews asked the man who plays Sterling, actor Josh Brolin: "Do you think that George W. Bush is a good President, Senator Sterling?"
Brolin, answering for his character, snapped: "N-O."
During the debut episode the character largely affirmed his liberalness. Reading a chart with a breakdown of constituent mail, Brolin as "Sterling" reported: "2,387 in favor of a capital gains tax cut, 1,949 opposed. And one undecided."
Press Secretary "Jackie Brock," played by Audra McDonald, was flummoxed: "You're undecided?"
Sterling: "Yeah I am after reading the Wall Street Journal's editorial today, yeah."
Brock informed him: "Well the Journal's never met a tax cut it didn't like. See problem number one with this one is it's going to cost the Treasury at least $12 billion, which means that we have to cut spending by $12 billion and the first place people always go for that kind of money is Medicare. So, the real question is how much do you want to cut spending on health care for the elderly?"
Sterling: "I don't."
Brock: "Then you just moved out of the undecided column on the capital gains tax cut."
Sterling: "I guess so."
That liberal reasoning settles that.
For more about the show produced by liberal political commentator/Hill veteran Lawrence O'Donnell, see:
Later, Sterling did express some variance from the liberal line on oil drilling in Alaska, but I'm way over today and so don't have space for that.
The biggest incongruity of the show is how Senator Sterling is portrayed as an independent "idealist," yet he decides to vote with the Democratic leadership for control of the Senate because they give him seats on the Finance and Appropriations Committees while the Republicans offered only a slot on one of those two committees.
But maybe that's what makes you an "idealist" to liberals: Getting as much taxpayer money for your state as you can. -- Brent Baker
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