Wash. Times uncritically repeated GOP suggestion that Obama's stimulus does not have "fast-acting tax relief"

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER

In an article about President Obama's economic stimulus package, The Washington Times reported that Rep. John Boehner "called for 'fast-acting tax relief, not slow-moving government spending,' in a ... response to Mr. Obama's weekly address." But the Times did not note that Obama's stimulus package proposes several tax credits and that according to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, "at least 75 percent of the overall package ... will be spent over the next year and a half."

In a January 25 article about President Obama's economic stimulus package, The Washington Times reported that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) "called for 'fast-acting tax relief, not slow-moving government spending,' in a video and radio response to Mr. Obama's weekly address." But the Times did not note that Obama's stimulus package proposes "tax relief" and that in a January 22 letter, Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag, "at least 75 percent of the overall package ... will be spent over the next year and a half." A January 25 Chicago Tribune article also quoted Boehner's assertion that Republicans oppose "slow-moving government spending" without noting Orszag's statement.

Obama's proposal includes several tax credits, including the following:

  • Providing a new higher education tax cut to nearly 4 million students. The plan will create a new $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit that is partially refundable. As a result, the nearly one-fifth of high school seniors who receive no tax credit under the current system will receive a tax cut to make college affordable for the first time.
  • Providing a $1,000 Making Work Pay tax cut for 95[%] of workers and their families.
  • Cutting taxes for more than 16 million children through an expansion of the Child Tax Credit. By expanding the Child Tax Credit, the plan will provide a new tax cut to more than 6 million children and increase the generosity of the existing credit for more than 10 million children.

Obama proposed the "Making Work Pay" tax credit during the presidential campaign. At the time, his campaign said of this proposal:

This refundable income tax credit will provide direct relief to American families who face the regressive payroll tax system. It will offset the payroll tax on the first $8,100 of their earnings while still preserving the important principle of a dedicated revenue source for Social Security. The "Making Work Pay" tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans. The tax credit will also provide relief to self-employed small business owners who struggle to pay both the employee and employer portion of the payroll tax. The "Making Work Pay" tax credit offsets some of this self employment tax as well.

From the Times article:

"This should be a bipartisan effort, but it doesn't include the proposals put forward by House and Senate Republicans," said Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

Mr. McConnell has called for a reduction in the 25 percent tax bracket to 15 percent.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, called for "fast-acting tax relief, not slow-moving government spending," in a video and radio response to Mr. Obama's weekly address. He has advocated that the 15 percent bracket be reduced to 10 percent, and the 10 percent bracket be reduced to 5 percent.

Mr. Obama met with his top economic advisers Saturday "to discuss the week's developments" in Congress with the stimulus package, said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. A vote is expected in the House on Wednesday.

From the Tribune article:

The GOP is pushing especially hard for a new round of traditional tax cuts, while suggesting the Democrats are rushing into new government spending programs that will send the deficit soaring. Democrats insist that only large-scale federal action can stabilize the economy and begin the recovery process.

Those competing positions were reflected in Obama's radio address and in GOP comments Saturday.

"On the House side they seem to be moving to vote on Wednesday and unless there are some real changes in the bill, I can't imagine there will be much if any Republican support," said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Boehner gave a radio address of his own Saturday, in which he called for a stimulus plan that relies mostly on tax cuts -- "not slow-moving government spending programs."

Even though the main action is in Congress, Obama and the Republicans hope to outmaneuver one another by mobilizing voters watching from home. If Boehner wants to stoke concerns about questionable spending, Obama's strategy is to show the money would go toward long-neglected projects.

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times, Tribune Co.
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