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.
On Fox News' Your World, Monica Crowley asserted that "liberals like the Clintons" argue "against tax cuts" and to "let the government have more of your money." In fact, Sen. Hillary Clinton's website says that she would "[l]ower taxes for middle class families by: extending the middle class tax cuts ... offering new tax cuts for healthcare, college and retirement, and expanding the EITC [earned income tax credit] and the child care tax credit."
Responding to an ad by John McCain's campaign, which asserts that in response to "home foreclosures mounting, markets teetering," "[Hillary] Clinton and Barack Obama just said they'd solve the problem by raising your taxes -- more money out of your pocket," Joe Scarborough said the ad would "probably work." But Scarborough didn't note that the ad's central claim is false: Neither Clinton nor Obama has asserted that she or he would respond to "home foreclosures rising" by raising taxes.
On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough, Willie Geist, and NBC News' Savannah Guthrie did not challenge senior McCain adviser Steve Schmidt's false assertion that "[w]ith regard to the economy," Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are "talking about raising taxes across the board." In fact, Obama and Clinton have proposed tax cuts -- not tax increases -- for the poor and the middle class.
The Associated Press quoted Sen. John McCain claiming that Sen. Barack Obama will "raise taxes" on homeowners. In fact, Obama has proposed "at least $80 billion a year in tax cuts to middle-class workers, homeowners and retirees," and specifically called for "extending a mortgage credit to taxpayers who do not itemize, generating about $500 in savings for 10 million people."
On MSNBC Live, Mika Brzezinski stated that Sen. Barack Obama "claimed" that Sen. John McCain "had initially opposed the tax cuts and was flip-flopping, just to get elected," and aired a clip of McCain saying, "Senator Obama has stated very clearly his desire to increase Americans' taxes." But Brzezinski did not acknowledge that Obama's "claim" that McCain reversed his position on the Bush tax cuts is in fact true, or that, contrary to McCain's assertion, Obama has proposed tax cuts for the poor and the middle class.
On Fox News, Sean Hannity said to Sen. John McCain, "You've said three times in the last week or week and a half that you promised no new taxes. You mean none." In response, McCain said, "None." However, in a Wall Street Journal interview, McCain did not rule out raising taxes. Later in the Fox News interview, Hannity suggested that Sen. Hillary Clinton's health care proposal would "nationalize health care," and McCain replied, "We tried this. We've seen this movie before back in 1993, OK? And it is a government takeover." In fact, Clinton's proposal would not "nationalize health care" or seek a "government takeover" of it.
Reports by ABC, USA Today, and CNN purported to contrast the positions of President Bush and John McCain on tax cuts by noting only McCain's initial opposition to Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. None of the outlets noted, however, that McCain has changed his position and now supports making the Bush tax cuts permanent, or that McCain has repeatedly claimed that he initially opposed the tax cuts because they were not paired with spending cuts, reasoning he did not mention in his 2001 floor statement explaining his vote.
An Associated Press article on President Bush's plan to endorse Sen. John McCain reported: "Bush will be giving his stamp of approval to a GOP maverick who's crossed swords with him on things like campaign finance, tax cuts and waterboarding. But the White House insists that Bush's endorsement will be heartfelt." In fact, while McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, he now supports making the tax cuts permanent.
CNN's Tom Foreman uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's claim that he voted against President Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts because "he wanted reductions in spending, too." But in a 2001 floor statement explaining his opposition, McCain did not mention the absence of offsetting spending cuts; rather, he stated, "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief."