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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
In a column criticizing Sen. Barack Obama's tax proposals, Thomas Sowell wrote that it is a "well-documented fact" that "lower tax rates on capital gains had produced more actual revenue collected from that tax than the higher tax rates had." In fact, numerous economists have challenged the assertion that cuts in the capital gains tax raise revenue in the long term. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the 2006 extension of the 2003 cuts on capital gains taxes would result in decreased revenues of $20 billion over 10 years.
On MSNBC, Joe Watkins asserted: "The reality is that John McCain actually supported tax cuts. The reason why he didn't support the tax cuts earlier is because he said you've got to slow down government spending. You can't spend and cut at the same time." In fact, McCain said in a May 2001 statement on the Senate floor that he was voting against the Bush tax cuts because "so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief." Watkins also claimed McCain "crafted that [comprehensive immigration reform] bill with Democrats, with Teddy Kennedy among other people. ... [H]ere's a guy willing to take big-time risks," but didn't note that McCain has said he would not support the bill if it came to a vote on the Senate floor.
On Meet the Press, Tom Brokaw did not challenge Carly Fiorina's assertion that "[t]he principal reason that [Sen. John McCain] voted against the Bush tax cuts is that they were not accompanied by fiscal restraint." In fact, the reason McCain gave for voting against the tax cuts in a May 26, 2001, statement on the Senate floor was 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."
On his radio program, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that Sen. Barack Obama's proposal "for rescinding the Bush tax cuts" would result in "families of four that make $50,000 a year ... paying another $2,000 in taxes a year." In fact, Obama has proposed cutting taxes for middle-class families and rolling back President Bush's tax cuts only on people who are making $250,000 a year or more.
On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell twice failed to challenge claims by McCain economic adviser Carly Fiorina that a summer gas-tax holiday is "the best stimulus package we can have right now." Mitchell did not challenge Fiorina's assertions by noting the assessment by many economists that the relief to consumers would be minimal and that the plan would likely generate increased revenue for oil companies.
Washingtonpost.com's The Trail blog, CNN, and CBSNews.com each repeated Sen. John McCain's false claim that "[i]f you are one of the 23 million small business owners in America who files as an individual rate payer, Senator [Barack] Obama is going to raise your tax rates." In fact, Obama has proposed rolling back President Bush's tax cuts only on "people who are making 250,000 dollars a year or more"; according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, only 481,000 small businesses fall into the tax brackets that would be affected by those increases.
The New York Times' Adam Nagourney reported that Sen. John McCain will attack Sen. Barack Obama for supporting "tax increases," but Nagourney didn't note that Obama has proposed tax cuts for "working-class voters" and others. Nagourney joins other media outlets that have uncritically reported or failed to challenge assertions by the McCain campaign that Obama plans to raise taxes on all or most Americans.