Post omitted key information in reporting Beauprez would "reduce taxes" and had "voted for a federal hike in the minimum wage"

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The Denver Post uncritically repeated a comment by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez that "he seeks to ... reduce taxes." The Post made no mention of a recent Beauprez proposal to replace Colorado's gasoline tax with a sales tax increase of 0.77 percentage points. The Post also failed to note the controversy over Republican strategy to cut the estate tax by tying it to the minimum-wage increase for which Beauprez voted.

In an October 6 article about how gubernatorial candidates Democrat Bill Ritter and Republican Bob Beauprez would address business and economic issues, The Denver Post uncritically repeated Beauprez's claim that, according to the Post, "he seeks to ... reduce taxes." In reporting this statement, the Post made no mention of a recent proposal by Beauprez to replace Colorado's 22-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax with a sales tax increase of 0.77 percentage points. Beauprez has suggested that while his proposal would initially be "revenue-neutral," the sales tax increase would generate more revenue than the current gas tax over the long run; therefore, over the long run, it is a tax increase. In the same article by reporter Will Shanley, the Post reported that "Beauprez voted for a federal hike in the minimum wage, which failed in Congress" but failed to note that the minimum-wage increase Beauprez voted for was linked to a cut in the estate tax. An August 1 Post editorial described that bill as "political gamesmanship of the most cynical sort."

In suggesting that Beauprez would "reduce taxes," the Post's October 6 article omitted the fact that, as Beauprez has described it, his plan to replace the 22-cent-per-gallon gas tax with a sales tax increase of 0.77 percentage points would be a tax increase over the long run. On September 24, the Post reported that, according to Beauprez, the sales tax plan initially would be " 'revenue neutral' and bring in the same amount of money as the current gas tax." However, the Post reported that Beauprez suggested that, in contrast to the current gas tax, over the long run, the sales tax "would allow the state's kitty for roads to increase as the economy grows":

When final accounting is done, Colorado expects to collect about $514 million in taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel in the fiscal year that ended June 30. That would be down about 7.2 percent from the previous year.

Republican candidate Beauprez says he would replace the state's 22 cents-a-gallon tax on gasoline by boosting the state sales tax by 0.77 percent.

He pegged the sales tax increase at that amount to make it "revenue neutral" and bring in the same amount of money as the current gas tax.

[...]

Linking transportation funding to the sales tax instead of the fixed, per-gallon gasoline tax would allow the state's kitty for roads to increase as the economy grows, Beauprez said in a recent interview.

"We've got a declining funding mechanism and an increasing need" for highway money, he said.

According to a September 14 Post editorial, Beauprez "put forth a transportation program" in early September that would increase "the state sales tax, currently 2.9 percent, to about 3.7 percent" to "generate about $516 million a year." The editorial also noted that Beauprez would "simultaneously eliminate the 22 cent per gallon fuel tax, expected to generate about $514 million this year." The September 14 Post editorial further noted, however, that "Beauprez believes that while the tax shift would initially be revenue neutral, it would ultimately produce more money for tranportation [sic] since sales taxes keep up with overall economic growth while gasoline taxes lose purchasing power to inflation and drop as motorists switch to more fuel-efficient cars."

The October 6 Post article also reported, "Beauprez voted for a federal hike in the minimum wage, which failed in Congress" and that Beauprez "opposes the Colorado initiative [for a minimum wage increase] because it would be embedded in the state constitution." However, the Post article did not explain that, as the Associated Press reported at the time, the bill was a "Republican election-year effort to fuse a cut in inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates with the first minimum wage increase in nearly a decade." Thirty-eight Senate Democrats -- along with three Republicans and one Independent -- successfully filibustered the bill after it passed the House. An August 4 Washington Post article reported that Democrats, who usually champion minimum-wage increases, thought voters would "see the Republican-backed bill as a ploy to further enrich upper-income families while trying to usurp the Democrats' role as champions of the working poor." The article quoted Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (NV), who led the opposition to the measure, as saying that, under the bill, "8,100 of the wealthy and well-off hit the jackpot, while millions of working families get $800 billion in [federal] debt." Responding to the bill, the August 1 Post editorial stated that "House Republicans linked an increase in the minimum wage to a tax cut for multi-millionaires. It was political gamesmanship of the most cynical sort."

From the October 6 Denver Post article:

A statewide ballot initiative would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.85 an hour, beginning Jan. 1. The initiative includes an automatic cost-of-living increase tied to inflation in future years. If approved, the initiative would become part of the state constitution.

Beauprez voted for a federal hike in the minimum wage, which failed in Congress. He opposes the Colorado initiative because it would be embedded in the state constitution and "ties the hands of business by raising wages every year regardless of economic conditions."

"It is bad for business," he said, "and it will hurt Colorado's economy."

Ritter also expressed concern about including the minimum wage in the state constitution. Even so, he said he supports the initiative because the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour has not increased since 1997.

"This will help hardworking Americans earn a living," he said.

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