On Fox News' The Five, the co-hosts mocked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for claiming that millionaire job creators, "like unicorns," are "impossible to find and don't exist." But when NPR asked Republican members of Congress and business groups for examples of business owners who would be affected by a millionaires surtax, those groups could not come up with a single person.
In remarks on the Senate floor on Monday, Reid criticized Republicans for opposing Democratic proposals to pair an extension of the payroll tax cut with a surtax on income over $1 million per year. Citing an NPR story about how reporters had trouble finding business owners who would be affected by the surtax, Reid said, "Millionaire job creators are like unicorns: They are impossible to find and don't exist."
Reid's remarks were met with criticism and derision on today's edition of The Five by the show's co-hosts. Greg Gutfeld, for instance, called the claim that millionaires don't create jobs "outrageous" and "flapdoodle," and said that "[l]ooking to NPR for facts on capitalism is like looking to protesters for advice on hygiene." And Eric Bolling asked fellow co-host Bob Beckel, "Did Harry Reid look like he needed rehab?"
Noticeably absent from The Five segment was any evidence that a millionaire surtax would cause job losses. But that isn't surprising.
When NPR approached Republican members of Congress and business groups that had been lobbying against the surtax looking for business owners who would be affected by the surtax, those groups were unable to produce a single millionaire job creator. In fact, only when NPR posted a query on Facebook did several business owners claiming they would be affected by the surtax respond. What's more, those who responded said that the surtax would in no way prevent them from hiring workers. One business owner even said that the surtax is "not in the top 20 things that we think about when we're making a business."
From a December 9 article by NPR's Tamara Keith:
We wanted to talk to business owners who would be affected. So, NPR requested help from numerous Republican congressional offices, including House and Senate leadership. They were unable to produce a single millionaire job creator for us to interview.
So we went to the business groups that have been lobbying against the surtax. Again, three days after putting in a request, none of them was able to find someone for us to talk to. A group called the Tax Relief Coalition said the problem was finding someone willing to talk about their personal taxes on national radio.
So next we put a query on Facebook. And several business owners who said they would be affected by the "millionaires surtax" responded.
"It's not in the top 20 things that we think about when we're making a business hire," said Ian Yankwitt, who owns Tortoise Investment Management.
Tortoise is a boutique investment firm in White Plains, N.Y. Yankwitt has 10 employees and in recent years has done a lot of hiring.
As a result, Yankwitt says he's had many conversations about hiring, "both with respect to specific people, with respect to whether we should hire one junior person or two, whether we should hire a senior person."
He says his ultimate marginal tax rate "didn't even make it on the agenda."
Yankwitt says deciding to bring on another employee is all about return on investment. Will adding another person to the payroll make his company more successful?
For Jason Burger, the motivation is similar.
"If my taxes go up, I have slightly less disposable income, yes," said Burger, co-owner of CSS International Holdings, a global infrastructure contractor. "But that has nothing to do with what my business does. What my business does is based on the contracts that it wins and the demand for its services."
Burger says his Michigan-based company is hiring like crazy, and he'd be perfectly willing to pay the surtax.
All of this contradicts the arguments about job creators being made by Republicans in Congress.
"Those I would say were exceptions to the rule," responds Thune. "I think most small-business owners who are out there right now would argue that raising their taxes has the opposite effect that we would want to have in a down economy."
But those small-business owners apparently don't want to talk.
So, it would seem that business owners who won't hire because of a millionaires surcharge are indeed as rare as unicorns, just as Reid claimed.
And as Fox personalities continue to demonstrate, so too are facts on Fox News.