On Fox News Sunday, Mara Liasson falsely asserted that a Tax Policy Center analysis of Sens. McCain's and Obama's tax plans "said that Obama might add more to the deficit -- because it's unclear how he's going to pay for these -- than McCain would add to the deficit." In fact, the Tax Policy Center found that Obama's tax proposals would raise $700 billion over the next 10 years, while McCain's tax proposals would lose $600 billion, when scored against a " 'current policy' baseline," which "assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts would be extended and the AMT [Alternative Minimum Tax] patch made permanent."
On Fox & Friends, Ben Stein misrepresented Sen. Barack Obama's tax plan to raise the capital gains tax rate on the wealthiest earners, stating: "[P]eople that have incomes in the five digits ... that's crazy to increase their capital gains tax." In fact, Obama has said he would not raise the capital gains tax on individuals with income of less than $250,000.
When Sen. John McCain twice touted the idea of a gas tax "break" during an interview on NBC's Today, Matt Lauer failed to challenge him over whether economists believe a gas tax holiday is a good idea. But when Sen. Hillary Clinton mentioned her proposal "to get the gas tax paid this summer out of the record profits of the oil companies" on the same program a month earlier, Meredith Vieira challenged her, saying that economists are "saying it's not sound policy."
The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore asserted that Sen. Barack Obama "has vowed ... to end the cap on Social Security taxes, which amounts to a tax hike on anyone who makes more than $100,000 in income," and he later asserted that "New York Rep. Joseph Crowley says a couple with earnings of $100,000 could be 'a police officer and nurse.' 'In New York City,' he adds, 'they'd be struggling.' " Moore's inclusion of a reference to "a couple ... [who] could be 'a police officer and nurse' " falsely suggests that Social Security taxes are assessed on households. In fact, Social Security payroll taxes are assessed on individual income.
The New York Post reported CNBC host Maria Bartiromo's assertion that Sen. Barack Obama would "take the capital gains tax at 15 percent right now all the way up to 25 to 28 percent." The Post further quoted Bartiromo: "Sell anything, like a home or stocks, and make a profit ... [almost] 30 percent of the profit will go to the government instead of 15' " [brackets in original]. But Bartiromo's suggestion that the entire profit on the sale of a house is always subject to tax is false; single homeowners can exempt up to $250,000 in gains realized from the sale of an owner-occupied home from capital gains taxes, and married homeowners can in most cases exempt up to $500,000. Politico's Mike Allen uncritically reprinted the Post report of Bartiromo's comments in its entirety.
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy gratuitously used Obama's middle name and echoed a false suggestion by Sen. John McCain that Obama supports raising taxes for middle-income Americans by claiming, "Under a Barack Hussein Obama administration, you will wind up with higher taxes." In fact, Obama has pledged to establish a tax credit for families.
Discussing passage of a budget resolution for fiscal year 2009, The Washington Post reported Rep. Dan Lungren's accusation that Democrats are "plotting 'the largest tax increase ... in the history of the world' " without noting that by Lungren's standard, it is the Republicans, not the Democrats, who were responsible for the "largest tax increase ... in the history of the world."
In contrast with The New York Times' 2004 analysis of the benefit Teresa Heinz Kerry gained from the Bush tax cuts, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, and The New York Times did not note, following the May 23 release of a summary of her 2006 tax returns, that Cindy McCain also benefited significantly from the tax cuts -- which Sen. John McCain has pledged to make permanent.
Newsweek has corrected George Will's false assertion in his Newsweek column that Social Security taxes are levied based on household income. Will made the same assertion on ABC's This Week, but ABC has yet to issue a correction on the show.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer did not challenge Sen. Lindsey Graham's claim that Sen. John McCain opposed President Bush's 2001 tax cuts because he "wanted a tax cut, a very healthy tax cut, but he wanted spending limitations." In fact, when he voted against the cuts in 2001, contrary to what he now says on the campaign trail, McCain made no mention of deficit concerns or of the absence of offsetting spending cuts.
In his Newsweek column, George Will falsely claimed that Social Security taxes are levied on household income. He had similarly falsely asserted on ABC's This Week that Sen. Barack Obama "wants to raise taxes on a lot of people, beginning with those earning about $100,000 a year, a household." In fact, Social Security taxes are levied based on individual income, and contrary to his assertion in Newsweek, a married couple with each spouse making less than $102,000 would not face a payroll tax increase if the income cap was raised, even if combined they made more than the current cap.
This Week's George Stephanopoulos did not challenge Sen. John McCain's assertion that "history shows every time you have cut capital gains taxes, revenues have increased -- going back to Jack Kennedy." Stephanopoulos did not note that, notwithstanding a potential short-term revenue increase, many economists have challenged the claim that revenue goes up over the long term as a result of capital gains tax rates being cut.
During the April 16 Democratic presidential debate, Charles Gibson asserted of capital-gains tax cuts that "in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased. The government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down." In fact, economists dispute Gibson's assertion. Moreover, looking forward, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the 2006 extension of the 2003 cuts on capital-gains taxes would result in decreased revenues over 10 years.
In a report on Sen. John McCain's economic speech, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell aired a clip of McCain saying of Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: "They're going to raise your taxes by thousands of dollars a year." However, O'Donnell did not note that Clinton and Obama have proposed tax cuts for middle- and low-income Americans.
On MSNBC Live, Mika Brzezinski said that Sen. John McCain "wants to eliminate the federal gas tax -- that's about 20 percent of the cost." Later, Monica Novotny said McCain is "proposing suspending the federal gas tax for the summer, potentially cutting prices by nearly 20 percent." In fact, the federal gas tax -- 18.4 cents per gallon -- comprises only 5.4 percent of the current average cost of regular gasoline.