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.
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During the March 28 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain's campaign, falsely claimed 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 for the poor and the middle class. Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist, and NBC News correspondent Savannah Guthrie did not challenge Schmidt's assertion.
Indeed, a day earlier, during a March 27 interview on sister station CNBC, Obama reiterated, "I would not increase taxes for middle class Americans and in fact I want to provide a tax cut for people who are making $75,000 a year or less":
MARIA BARTIROMO (CNBC's Closing Bell host): So what about the top marginal rate for ordinary income? Who ought to pay more and who should pay less?
OBAMA: Well, you know, what I've said is that we should go back to probably a top marginal rate of 39 percent -- what it was before the Bush tax cuts. So I would roll back those Bush tax cuts, I would not increase taxes for middle class Americans and in fact I want to provide a tax cut for people who are making $75,000 a year or less. For those folks, I want an offset on the payroll tax that would be worth as much as $1,000 for a family. Senior citizens who are bringing in less than $50,000 a year in income, I don't want them to have to pay income tax on their Social Security. And as part of my overall approach to housing, I actually want to provide an additional 10 percent mortgage deduction, a credit, mortgage interest credit, for those who currently don't itemize. Because if you live in a house that's pretty expensive, like I do, and I itemize, I get a pretty big break from Uncle Sam. If you own a $100,000 house and you're making 65, $75,000 a year, you're not getting that same deduction. I think that they deserve a break as well. That will actually help relieve some of the pressure on homeowners.
Obama's website states that he "will create a new 'Making Work Pay' tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family." CNN reported on September 18, 2007: "Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed overhauling the tax code to lower taxes for the poor and middle class, increase them for the rich and make it so most Americans can file their taxes in five minutes. The tax relief plan he envisions for the middle class alone would mean $80 billion or more in tax cuts, he said."
Similarly, in a March 27 speech on the economy, Clinton also called for "middle class tax cuts":
CLINTON: I have proposed a very specific agenda to end the giveaways to corporate special interests and to save the American people at least $55 billion a year.
That's money that can go right back into your pockets through middle class tax cuts, money we can use to create new high-paying jobs, to invest in our nation's futures (sic) again, you know, for rebuilding our roads to our schools to our manufacturing sector.
Additionally, in a March 27 interview (subscription required) with The Wall Street Journal, Clinton noted that she supports "letting the [Bush] tax cuts expire for those making over $250,000." Clinton's website says that she would "[l]ower taxes for middle class families by: extending the middle class tax cuts including child tax credit and marriage penalty relief, offering new tax cuts for healthcare, college and retirement, and expanding the EITC [earned income tax credit] and the child care tax credit." Clinton also discussed reducing the tax burden on middle-income families in an October 8, 2007, speech on economic policy.
From the March 28 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
SCHMIDT: I hate to tell you, there's nothing you can do to keep John McCain off those shows. He loves them. He loves them. He loves going on. He's got a great sense of humor -- and, look, he understands politics. And, you know, he's a guy who watches this stuff at night and gets a laugh out of it, too.
SCARBOROUGH: Is he getting a laugh out of what the Democrats are doing to each other right now?
SCHMIDT: Well, we're interested by it, of course. We're watching it closely. We don't know who we're going to be running against yet, but we know they have a lot in common with regard to national security issues. We think they're wrong on that. With regard to the economy, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton talking about raising taxes across the board. I think it's terrible for the economy. So, we're watching their process sort out. What we do know, Senator McCain is doing very well with Republicans, with independents, and an awful lot of Democrats, I think, are going to wind up supporting John McCain in this election.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, let's talk about what's going on in Iraq.