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What The Media Tell Americans About Free Enterprise

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Friday, April 7, 2000

Volume 8, Number 7

Kudos... to CNNís Brooks Jackson

Among the mediaís most enduring myths is the one about how Ronald Reaganís 1981 across-the-board tax cuts shifted more of the burden of paying federal income taxes to the middle class. As part of the run-up to tax day (April 17 for most of the country, April 18 in Massachusetts), CNNís Brooks Jackson took a look at who pays the most in taxes, and who gets the benefits -- and it turns out that the rich are paying a far greater share of the nationís taxes now than they were when Reagan took office, even though the top tax rates remain far lower than they were 20 years ago.

"In 1981," Jackson reported on The World Today on April 4, "the richest 10 percent of American households paid 49 percent of all federal income taxes. Last year, they paid 63 percent." Jackson also noted that, contrary to what many liberals argue, a huge percentage of the current tax burden falls on the rich.

"The highest earning 20 percent of all Americans paid nearly 80 percent of all federal income taxes last year," said Jackson.

The next night Jackson reported where all of that tax money goes, and he exploded yet another myth when he informed viewers that while "a generation ago, military spending took up half the federal budget... military spending is [now] down to 16 cents on the dollar nationally." So much for the claims of some liberals that the defense budget should be further cut to pay for increased domestic spending.

Of course, these statistics are all readily-available, but few reporters apparently take the time to tell viewers. Kudos to Brooks Jackson for puncturing a couple of the more durable media myths.


ó Rich Noyes


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