The Denver Post, ABC News, and The Washington Post all uncritically reported that Sen. John McCain, during an August 14 appearance in Aspen, Colorado, responded to criticism that he had changed his position on President Bush's tax cuts by stating he originally opposed them because they were not accompanied by spending reductions. None of these outlets noted that when McCain voted against the tax cuts in 2001, the reason he gave in his Senate floor statement was not that they were not accompanied by spending cuts but, rather, that "so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief."
The headline of a Washington Post article read: "Obama Tax Plan Would Balloon Deficit, Analysis Finds." But while the headline focused on Sen. Barack Obama, the article itself reported that the Tax Policy Center found that Sen. John McCain's tax plan would add $5 trillion to the national debt while Obama's plan would add $3.4 trillion.
The Los Angeles Times uncritically quoted Sen. John McCain asserting of Sen. Barack Obama, "[H]is plan is to raise your taxes and spend more of your money," without noting that the claim is false. Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income families, and McCain's own chief economic adviser has reportedly said it is inaccurate to say that "Barack Obama raises taxes."
In an editorial, The Washington Times asserted that President Bush "had very high poll ratings (80 percent to 90 percent) throughout his first term" and went on to say that during his tenure, he "reduced unemployment to still record-levels." In fact, Bush's approval ratings peaked between 80 percent and 95 percent in September 2001 before trending downward through the end of his first term, which he finished at around 50 percent. Additionally, the unemployment rate under Bush after the 2001 recession bottomed out at 4.4 percent in March 2007 -- a higher level than when Bush took office in January 2001, when the rate was 4.2 percent.
On Hugh Hewitt's show, the Politico's Mike Allen said that "Senator [John] McCain had a good week last week" and stated it may be because of the McCain campaign's "Celebrity" ad, which "suggested [Sen. Barack] Obama is going to raise taxes." Allen did not note that the claim is false. In fact, Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income families, and McCain's own chief economic adviser has reportedly said it is inaccurate to say that "Barack Obama raises taxes."
In a Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove claimed that "[Sen. John McCain] opposes tax increases and [Sen. Barack] Obama favors them." In fact, Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income families, and McCain's own chief economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, has reportedly said that it is inaccurate to say that "Barack Obama raises taxes." Moreover, McCain himself recently suggested he would be open to raising Social Security payroll taxes.
Reporting on U.S. Senate candidates campaigning at a Mississippi county fair, NPR's Debbie Elliott uncritically aired a clip of one fairgoer claiming that the "[o]nly time we have ever gotten anything out of the federal government was when the Republicans were there." In fact, according to the Tax Foundation, from 1981 through 2005, Mississippi has consistently received more from the federal government than the state's residents pay in taxes.
On CNN's Lou Dobbs This Week, Kitty Pilgrim baselessly suggested that nearly all undocumented immigrants in the United States are uninsured, asserting that "there are an estimated 47 million people in this country who don't have health insurance," and that "illegal aliens likely make up 40 percent of the uninsured in this country." For Pilgrim's assertion to be true, 18.8 million undocumented immigrants would have to be uninsured, but the National Institute for Health Care Management has estimated that there are 5.6 million uninsured undocumented immigrants.
On the New York Times political blog The Caucus, reporter Michael Cooper uncritically quoted Sen. John McCain saying: "But we have to work together to save Social Security. This young man standing right in front of me -- Social Security benefits won't be there for him when he retires." In fact, according to the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees, if no legislative changes are made, "Tax income would cover 75 percent of scheduled benefits in the final year (2082) of the 75-year projection period."
In an editorial, Investor's Business Daily falsely claimed that the Global Poverty Act of 2007, sponsored by Sen. Barack Obama, "would force U.S. taxpayers to fork over 0.7% of our gross domestic product every year to fund a global war on poverty, spending well above the $16.3 billion in global poverty aid the U.S. already spends." In fact, the bill would establish no specific funding source and would not commit the United States to any targeted level of spending.
On MSNBC, John Harwood described Sen. John McCain's apparent willingness to consider raising Social Security taxes -- a reversal from his previously stated position that there would be "no new taxes" in a McCain administration -- as an example of McCain's engaging in "truth-telling" and "candor." Harwood added: "That's the Straight Talk Express, which people got to know so well about John McCain in 2000."
The Wall Street Journal's Jesse Drucker wrote that Sen. Barack Obama has said he will "seek to raise" the capital gains tax to "at least 20%, the rate before the 2003 cut, and possibly higher." In fact, Obama has said he would not raise the capital gains tax on individuals with income of less than $250,000 -- a fact noted by WSJ reporter Tom Herman in an "Ask Dow Jones" Q-and-A.
Fox News' Stuart Varney misrepresented the cost of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, falsely asserting that the "House, right now, [is] voting on that $300 billion housing bailout bill." During the segment, on-air captions read "$300B Bailout Bill," and "House Voting On $300B Housing Bailout Bill." In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill "would increase budget deficits (or reduce future surpluses) by about $24.9 billion over the 2008-2018 period."
On Meet the Press, Tom Brokaw asked Al Gore if, on the subject of renewable energy, "Hillary Clinton reset this debate when she said there should be a summer holiday on the federal gas tax." But Brokaw did not mention that Sen. John McCain also proposed a gas-tax holiday or that one of his top advisers still touts the plan as "the best stimulus package we can have right now."
Sean Hannity falsely suggested that federal areas legally available for leasing by oil companies contain no oil. In fact, federal agencies have estimated that more oil exists on the tens of millions of acres of federal areas currently legally available for drilling than there is in the areas currently off limits to drilling.