Fox News has spent years complaining that roughly half of all Americans "don't pay taxes" and calling for tax hikes on working Americans. Now Fox is decrying the insurance mandate in the Affordable Care Act as a tax hike on the middle class -- even though it will affect only a small amount of people.
First, Fox Deplored That Half Of Americans "Don't Pay Taxes"
Sean Hannity: "50 Percent Of Americans Don't Pay Taxes." Fox News host Sean Hannity claimed that 50 percent of Americans "don't pay taxes" while discussing tax breaks with his panel:
HANNITY: Fifty percent of Americans don't pay taxes. The 50 percent that do get a baseball bat from the head from liberals like Bob [Beckel]. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/18/11, via Media Matters]
Neil Cavuto: "More than Half Of American Households ... Do Not Pay Any Taxes At All." During the July 27 edition of Your World, host Neil Cavuto claimed that "the rich already pay a lot in taxes" and said that "more than half of American households ... do not pay any taxes at all." He then asked, "Is that fair?" [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 7/27/11, via Media Matters]
Brian Kilmeade: "51 Percent Of The Country Isn't Paying Any Taxes At All." On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that "51 percent of the country isn't paying any taxes at all. And you have the people who are paying the bulk of the taxes being called out for not paying more than they're currently paying." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/26/11, via Media Matters]
For the truth about Fox's false claims that half of Americans don't pay any taxes at all, click here.
Then, Fox Repeatedly Demanded Tax Hikes For Working Americans
Steve Doocy: Are People "Who Don't Pay Taxes" Going To "Have To Pay Something?" Discussing percentage of overall taxes paid by Americans, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed it would be more fair if lower-income Americans saw their taxes increase:
DOOCY: The top 25 percent of people in this country income-wise, they pay 86 percent of all income taxes. And so, when the president of the United States says everybody's got to chip in, is he talking about all those people who don't pay taxes currently? Gretchen's absolutely right, 51 percent don't pay federal income tax. Sure, you might pay some different taxes, state taxes, payroll, Social Security, Medicare, stuff like that. But, 51 percent don't pay federal taxes. Going forward, if we're going to make things fairer, are people who currently don't pay taxes -- will they have to pay something? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/3/11, via Media Matters]
Cavuto: Working Americans Should Put "More Skin In The Game." On his Fox News show, Neil Cavuto suggested that Americans that pay little in taxes need to put "more skin in the game":
CAVUTO: It's more than that. What bothers me most about this, maybe because, as I said, I am FOX's resident nerd and I cover this sort of stuff. I did cover Ronald Reagan and the tax revolution closely. I guess that bespeaks both my age and my nerdiness and how long track it is.
But one of the things that I cannot stress enough to folks is this is not a right or left issue to me. This is a right or wrong issue that Ronald Reagan trying to address the idea that everyone have skin in the game, and that if you were either very poor and trying to dodge taxes or you were very rich and trying to dodge taxes, there should be nothing in our tax code that would allow that to happen.
And that is what he wanted to eradicate in 1985 and 1986. Now, I think it is worth pointing out that this president has not pointed out that talking about putting more skin in the game, half the filers in this country are not filing at all, because they don't owe any federal income taxes at all. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 4/12/12, via Nexis]
Doocy: "Shared Sacrifice" Means Expanding Taxpayer Base To Those Who Don't Pay "Federal Taxes" Speaking to National Economic Council director Gene Sperling, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy suggested that shared sacrifice really means expanding the taxpayer base so that lower-income Americans pay more:
DOOCY: But Mr. Sperling, 51 percent of the country doesn't pay any federal taxes. Maybe shared sacrifice is you make the taxpayer base expand a bit. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/1/11 via Media Matters]
Gretchen Carlson: Should Those Who Don't Pay Federal Income Tax "Start Paying At Least Something." While discussing President Obama's State of the Union address, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson asked if being fair means that those not earning enough to pay federal income tax should pay more in taxes:
CARLSON: And by the way, with the fair-share argument. Forty-seven percent of Americans don't pay federal income tax.
CARLSON: But that is also part of the fair share. So, if we're going to be fair to everyone, should those people then start paying at least something?
DOOCY: Kick in a buck. Kick in something. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/25/12 via Media Matters]
Now, Fox Feigns Outrage Over A "Massive New Tax"
Todd Starnes: Supreme Court Ruling "Will Force A Massive New Tax On The American People." During the June 28 edition of his "Fox News and Commentary" radio segment, Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes claimed that the Supreme Court ruling "jeopardizes religious liberty" and "will force a massive new tax on the American people." [FoxNews.com, 6/28/12]
Jim Pinkerton: ACA Is "The Biggest Tax Increase In The History Of The Universe." On the June 30 edition of Fox News Watch, Fox guest James Pinkerton cited right-wing columnists to claim Chief Justice John Roberts "has now declared this to be the giant -- the biggest tax increase in the history of the universe, and Obama has to wear it." [Fox News, Fox News Watch, 6/30/12, via Media Matters]
Kimberly Guilfoyle: Health Care Law Is A "Tremendous Tax Burden" On The Middle Class. On Hannity, co-host of Fox News show The Five Kimberly Guilfoyle claimed that the penalty for not having insurance would be a "tremendous tax burden":
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: [Obama] is not even listening or responding to the will of the people. He doesn't seem to care at all that, in fact, it is going to be a tax. The high court said it's a tax, and that it's going to be a tremendous tax burden on [the] middle class of America. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/6/12, via Media Matters]
But Very Few Would Actually Face A Fine For Not Having Health Insurance
Urban Institute: Individual Mandate Would Not Affect 94 Percent Of Americans. A March 2012 report by the nonpartisan Urban Institute found that 94 percent of Americans "would not face a requirement to newly purchase insurance or pay a fine." From Urban Institute's report:
The "individual mandate" -- the requirement that individuals either have health insurance coverage or pay a fine -- is both the best known and the least popular component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That people know about the mandate -- and may even worry about it -- is not surprising, given both the heated political controversy and the constitutional challenge surrounding this provision of the law. What may be surprising, however, is that if the ACA were in effect today, 94 percent of the total population (93 percent of the nonelderly population) or 250.3 million people out of 268.8 million nonelderly people -- would not face a requirement to newly purchase insurance or pay a fine. [Urban Institute, March 2012]
CBO: 4 Million People Will Face Fine For Not Having Insurance In 2016. An April 2010 Congressional Budget Office report estimated that only 4 million people would pay the penalty for not having insurance:
Of the remaining 7 million to 8 million uninsured, some individuals will be granted exemptions from the penalty because of hardship, and others will be exempted from the mandate on the basis of their religious beliefs. Among the uninsured who do not obtain an exemption, many will vol-untarily report on their tax returns that they are uninsured and pay the amount owed. However, other individuals will try to avoid making payments. Therefore, the estimates presented here account for likely compliance rates, as well as the ability of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to administer and collect the penalty. After accounting for all of those factors, CBO and JCT estimate that about 4 million people will pay a penalty because they will be uninsured in 2016 (a figure that includes uninsured dependents who have the penalty paid on their behalf). [CBO, 4/30/12]
And The Penalty Is Not The "Biggest Tax Increase In The History Of The Universe"
Ezra Klein: The Affordable Care Act Is "Not Even The Biggest Tax Hike In The Past 60 Years." In a July 2 post on The Washington Post's Wonkblog, Ezra Klein noted, "[T]he Affordable Care Act isn't the "biggest tax hike in history." It's not even the biggest tax hike in the past 60 years. Or 50 years. Or 30 years. Or 20 years." The post included the following chart, made by economist Austin Frakt:
[The Washington Post, WonkBlog, 7/2/12]
PolitiFact: "Health Care Law Is Not The Largest Tax Ever." In a June 28 post, PolitiFact called the claim that the Affordable Care Act is the "largest tax increase ever" a "pants on fire" lie. The post pointed out that although the law does generate revenue, the amount is significantly smaller than previous revenue-generating provisions passed in other administrations. From PolitiFact:
Depending on your rounding, that would mean the tax increases resulting from the health care law would be about the size of tax increases proposed and passed in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter, in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush and in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.
The health care-related tax increases are smaller than the tax increase signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and a temporary tax signed into law in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. And they are significantly smaller than two tax increases passed during World War II and a tax increase passed in 1961. [PolitiFact, 6/28/12]