Wall Street Journal advances distortion of Coakley's remarks on taxes to promote GOP attack

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

A January 11 Wall Street Journal editorial on the upcoming special Senate election in Massachusetts repeated Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown's attacks on his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, reporting that Brown "hit [her] on taxes, including, Ms. Coakley's comments in November that 'We need to get taxes up.' " In fact, the context of Coakley's remarks indicates that she was referring to increasing tax revenues by getting people back to work; indeed, Coakley later clarified that she was referring to tax revenues in her remarks, not increasing taxes, which the Journal ignored.

WSJ trumpets Brown's distortion of Coakley's comment that "We need to get taxes up"

From a January 11 Wall Street Journal editorial:

Mr. Brown, a state senator who is little known state-wide, has been running against Washington's blowout spending and has called for a freeze on the wages of federal employees. "It's not right that less-paid private sector workers suffering through a recession have to pay for expensive government salaries," he says, noting Ms. Coakley's many union endorsements.

He's also hit on taxes, including Ms. Coakley's comments in November that "We need to get taxes up." One of his TV ads shows film of Massachusetts son John F. Kennedy describing his 1962 tax cut bill, saying that "The billions of dollars this bill will place in the hands of the consumer and our businessmen will have both immediate and permanent benefits to our economy." It's been a long time since any national Democrat said anything like that.

In fact, Coakley was referring to increasing tax revenues by getting people back to work, not increasing taxes

Coakley: "We need to get people back to work. We need to get taxes up, and we'll start to chip away at that deficit." The Journal editorial referred to remarks Coakley made during a November 30, 2009, Democratic primary debate, in which Coakley discussed the "need to get out of this recession" by, "get[ting] people back to work." Coakley stated: "We need to get people back to work. We need to get taxes up, and we'll start to chip away at that deficit, because individuals and the country, my colleague in California Jerry Brown said, we've all been spending too much money we don't have on stuff we don't need." Coakley went on to say: "[H]ow do we get you back to work, and how do we bring that deficit down? Ultimately by being more careful on how we're spending our money as a country and as individuals. We can do it. We've done it before." From the November 30, 2009, primary debate (around 22:55):

COAKLEY: But we do need to get out of this recession also, and that requires, I think, looking at a couple of things. There's no magic bullet to this. We need to get people back to work. We need to get taxes up, and we'll start to chip away at that deficit because individuals and the country, my colleague in California Jerry Brown said, we've all been spending too much money we don't have on stuff we don't need. And so we need to focus on what do we need individually and as a country.

We need to get people back to work. We need to look at the regions of Massachusetts, where are the needs for that, what kind of job training, particularly with new workers coming into the sector, what skill sets do you have and where can we put them to work in Massachusetts? I've been doing that here in Massachusetts. I want to do that as your new U.S. senator, working with your electeds and your private sector folks to figure out where should we be growing jobs? And how do we get you back to work, and how do we bring that deficit down? Ultimately by being more careful on how we're spending our money as a country and as individuals. We can do it. We've done it before.

Coakley spokesman reportedly clarified that she was "referring to the need to increase tax revenue by getting unemployed people back to work." The New York Times reported January 8 that "a spokesman for Ms. Coakley said the comment, made during a primary election debate, was referring to the need to increase tax revenue by getting unemployed people back to work." The Times added: " 'It's a completely misleading ad,' said the spokesman, Corey Welford. 'Martha was referencing the need to get people back to work and tax revenues that would come with increased employment.' "

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