CNN's Erickson is now contributing his fraudulent talking points about taxes to CNN presidential debates.
As The Washington Post's Suzy Khimm reported, Erickson has helped launch a campaign to counter the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement, claiming that he is part of "the 53 percent" that is "subsidizing" the "whiners" with his taxes:
Conservative activists have created a Tumblr called "We are the 53 percent" that's meant to be a counterpunch to the viral "We are the 99 percent" site that's become a prominent symbol for the Occupy Wall Street movement. The Tumblr is supposed to represent the 53 percent of Americans who pay federal income taxes, and its assumption is that the Wall Street protesters are part of the 46 percent of the country who don't.
Erickson's movement is based on a fraud. While nearly half of American households have paid no income taxes in the past few years, the vast majority of Americans do pay other taxes, including federal payroll taxes, as well as state and local taxes. In an April New York Times article, David Leonhardt explained how figures like the one Erickson was pushing distort the economic debate away from growing income inequality while completely ignoring taxes that all American households pay.
But at Tuesday's Republican primary candidates debate, CNN moderator Anderson Cooper adopted that fraud as fact. During the debate, Cooper asked Bachmann:
You also said at the last debate that everyone should pay something. Does that mean that you would raise taxes on the 47 percent of Americans who currently don't pay taxes?
After the debate, Cooper interviewed Herman Cain and again peddled the fraud that "there are a number of Americans, 47 percent, who don't pay taxes right now." [See update below.]
UPDATE: On the October 19 edition of his CNN show, Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper issued a full correction and, commendably, made an apology:
COOPER: And finally, "Keeping Them Honest," the moderator, me.
COOPER [video clip]: Congresswoman Bachmann, you also said at the last debate that everyone should pay something. Does that mean that you would raise taxes on the 47 percent of Americans who currently don't pay taxes?
COOPER: I said it during the debate and the discussion afterward. I was flat-out wrong, of course. What I knew and meant to say was 40 percent of Americans do not pay federal income tax. They do, of course, pay plenty of other state, local, and federal taxes, including federal payroll taxes, gasoline taxes -- on and on and on. I made a mistake last night, and I apologize.