In recent days, Fox News anchors and contributors have falsely asserted, repeatedly, that people who don't pay taxes would be eligible for a $500 individual tax credit included in President-elect Barack Obama's proposed economic recovery plan, echoing an oft-repeated myth from the presidential campaign that Obama's proposed tax cuts would go to people who don't pay taxes. In fact, Obama has proposed a tax credit for working Americans, meaning they do pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
Fox News' Shepard Smith falsely suggested that a $500 individual tax credit, reportedly included in President-elect Barack Obama's proposed economic recovery plan, would benefit people who don't currently pay taxes, asking, "I know we don't know the details yet, but $300 billion in tax cuts -- how do you cut taxes on people who don't pay taxes?" In fact, all American workers are required to pay taxes on their wages for Social Security and Medicare under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.
In an article about President-elect Barack Obama's meetings with members of Congress to discuss a stimulus package, The Hill's Mike Soraghan asserted, "To the surprise of some, congressional liberals offered up little initial resistance to the sudden turn to tax cuts." But in referring to Obama's purported "sudden turn to tax cuts," Soraghan ignored Obama's promise of tax cuts during the campaign, nor did Soraghan quote or name one person expressing "surprise" that "congressional liberals" would support tax cuts as part of a stimulus plan.
In recent weeks, several conservative media figures, echoed by Republican lawmakers, have responded to comparisons in the media of President-elect Barack Obama to FDR, or assertions in the media that a New Deal-level of government intervention will be necessary to resolve the current economic crisis, by asserting that the New Deal was a dismal failure, plunging the 1930s economy into a depression, an assertion that prominent progressive economists flatly reject.
An Augusta Chronicle editorial supporting the "Fair Tax," a proposal that "replaces all federal income and payroll based taxes" with a national sales tax, falsely stated that under the "Fair Tax" people will "get their entire paycheck." In fact, Georgia residents would still have to pay the Georgia income tax, which is withheld from their paychecks.
The Washington Times falsely suggested that Gov. Bill Richardson said Sen. Barack Obama would raise taxes on Americans making more than $120,000, stating that Sen. John McCain "continued to hammer the Democrat over his plan to tax Americans making more than $250,000 -- a number that has crept down, first to $200,000, then to $150,000 and finally to $120,000." In fact, the number hasn't "crept down," and during the interview to which the Times was referring, Richardson said that under Obama's plan for "those in the middle class, anybody under $250,000, there is no tax increase."
The New York Times quoted McCain spokesman Jeff Sadosky saying: "Barack Obama's plans to raise taxes on small businesses and his attacks on Midwestern family farmers have turned off rural voters." But the Times did not point out that less than 2 percent of taxpayers declaring small business income would see a tax increase in 2009 under Obama's plan, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center.
ABC's Robin Roberts did not challenge Sen. John McCain's claim that Sen. Barack Obama "wants to raise people's taxes" -- a claim that McCain's own chief economic adviser reportedly said is inaccurate.
An October 28 McClatchy Newspapers article reported that Sen. John McCain "hammered" Sen. Barack Obama "as someone who'd ... rais[e] taxes on small businesses, much like the plumbing business in Ohio that 'Joe the Plumber' Wurzelbacher said he wanted to buy someday." In fact, McClatchy itself noted in an October 18 article that Wurzelbacher would not likely see a tax increase under Obama's plan if he bought the plumbing business.
After airing video of Gov. Sarah Palin's misleading assertion that Sen. Barack Obama "voted 94 times for higher taxes," Fox News' Shepard Smith affirmed Palin's claim, saying, "Well, they'll [Democrats] argue with that, but I guess down to its core, that's true." However, Smith offered no support for his purported confirmation of Palin's assertion, and FactCheck.org has described the claim as "inflated" and "padded."
Fox News' Gretchen Carlson falsely claimed that "roughly 40 percent" of Sen. Barack Obama's plan to cut taxes "is a handout to people who do not pay taxes." In fact, all American workers are required to pay taxes on their wages for Social Security and Medicare, and according to an Obama economic adviser, "every person that receives a tax cut under Barack Obama's plan is working."
Uncritically repeating Sen. John McCain's mischaracterization of Sen. Barack Obama's tax plan, CNN's Dana Bash stated that McCain has "been saying, basically, Barack Obama and the Democrats are going to raise your taxes; I'm going to lower your taxes." But Bash did not note that Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income taxpayers, or that McCain's own chief economic policy adviser has reportedly said it is inaccurate to say that "Barack Obama raises taxes."
Fox News' Gregg Jarrett falsely asserted that The New York Times recently found that "the average plumber would pay less in taxes under John McCain than Barack Obama." In fact, the Times did not assess how "the average plumber" would fare under Obama's and McCain's tax plans -- he or she would get a bigger tax cut under Obama's plan, according to the Tax Policy Center -- but, rather, how their respective plans would affect an individual who is "a partner of a two-person company," that earns $280,000 "after business expenses are deducted," "[o]wns his own home and itemizes his taxes," "[i]s divorced but does not pay alimony," and "is a single parent with one dependent child."
The Los Angeles Times reported without challenge Sen. John McCain's claim that Sen. Barack Obama plans to "raise taxes on small businesses." In fact, the number of taxpayers declaring small business income who would see a tax increase in 2009 under Obama's plan is less than two percent, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center. Additionally, the AP reported an RNC spokesman's claim that Obama "will raise taxes," without noting that Obama has proposed raising taxes only on individuals earning more than $200,000 per year and families earning more than $250,000 per year.