On March 3, Fox & Friends distorted a Hill article on House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's recent comments about deficit reduction to repeatedly falsely claim that "some Democrats want you to hand over 70 percent of everything you make." In fact, Hoyer and the Hill article they cited said no such thing.
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Fox & Friends claims "some Democrats want Americans to pay 70% of their income in taxes"
Carlson: "Some Democrats want you to hand over 70 percent of everything you make." On the March 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson teased an interview with European Parliament member Daniel Hannan by claiming, "Some Democrats want you to hand over 70 percent of everything you make to pay for their out-of-control spending? A member of the European Parliament who has been through this before -- he says he has a better plan."
Carlson: "Some Democrats want Americans to pay 70 percent of their income in taxes." During the second teaser for the Hannan interview, Carlson claimed, "Some Democrats want Americans to pay 70 percent of their income in taxes to cover the deficit -- 70 percent? A member of the European Parliament, Daniel Hannan, who already knows higher taxes are not the answer, he's here with a new plan."
Doocy: "Steny Hoyer says the only solution is probably to raise taxes." During the interview with Hannan, co-host Steve Doocy asked: "So how does Congress plan to cut [the deficit] down? Well, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says the only solution is probably to raise taxes -- maybe on the wealthy. But if you do the math, that means raising taxes on those earning more than $250,000. If you're in that category, your taxes would go up to about 70 percent. Is that kind of huge tax hike really necessary?" Doocy cited a Hill article that reported Hoyer's comments at a March 1 speech, and asked, "Why would I want to get up in the morning if I'm going to be working 70 percent of my day for Uncle Sam?"
Hoyer proposed a "balanced approach" that "avoid[s] extremes" to deficit reduction
Hoyer: "The only solution that can win the support of both parties is a balanced approach." On March 1, Hoyer appeared at the Brookings Institution and gave a speech entitled, "Building Momentum for Fiscal Responsibility." During the speech, Hoyer expressed support for both increasing revenue and reducing spending, saying, "[I]t seems to me that the only solution that can win the support of both parties is a balanced approach: one that cuts some spending and raises some revenue while avoiding extremes in either direction. A balanced approach would spread the effects of change across American society, rather than concentrating them on seniors." From Hoyer's speech:
But it seems to me that the only solution that can win the support of both parties is a balanced approach: one that cuts some spending and raises some revenue while avoiding extremes in either direction. A balanced approach would spread the effects of change across American society, rather than concentrating them on seniors.
What are our options for a budget agreement? On the side of entitlement spending, an agreement might recognize that Americans are living longer lives and raise the retirement age over a period of years, or even peg the retirement age to lifespan. Another option is to make Social Security and Medicare benefits more progressive, while strengthening the safety net for low-income Americans. That could preserve those programs as a central part of our social compact, while protecting their ability to help those of us in the greatest need.
On the side of revenues, President Obama was correct in refusing to take any options off of the commission's table. No one likes raising revenue, and understandably so. But if you're going to buy, you need to pay. In 1993, President Clinton proposed an economic plan aimed at accomplishing fiscal balance, and he paved the way for the greatest American prosperity in a generation. The bipartisan tax compromise in 1986 also showed the importance of a simplified, more efficient tax code. If need be, I am hopeful that both parties will agree to look at revenues as part of the solution -- not as a gateway to higher spending, but as part of a compromise that cuts spending and balances the budget.
None of this, to put it mildly, will be easy. It will take bipartisan trust, presidential leadership, and a public spirit that many assume is beyond America's reach in the year 2010. But I do not share that cynicism, because America has made a career of proving it wrong.
Hoyer made no mention of increasing top tax rate to 70 percent. In his speech, Hoyer made no mention of increasing any specific tax rates, but rather spoke broadly of the need to "spread the effects of change across American society." At no point did Hoyer suggest reducing the deficit by mandating "Americans ... pay 70 percent of their income in taxes," as Fox & Friends suggested.
70% tax rate Fox & Friends referenced comes from a report by the Tax Policy Center, not Hoyer or congressional Democrats
The Hill: TPC report found that "to hit the deficit target relying only on tax increases on the rich ... income tax rates for those earning more than $250,000 would have to be increased to more than 70 percent." A March 1 article in The Hill, which Doocy cited, reported on Hoyer's Brookings speech and went on to report, "President Barack Obama has promised he will not raise taxes on families with incomes less than $250,000, which could further limit the government's ability to deal with a fiscal crisis." The article added that, according to a recent Tax Policy Center paper, "To hit the deficit target relying only on tax increases on the rich, as identified by Obama, the income tax rates for those earning more than $250,000 would have to be increased to more than 70 percent." At no point did The Hill attribute the 70 percent tax rate to Hoyer or cite it as a proposal being floated by congressional Democrats, as Fox & Friends suggested.
Tax Policy Center report analyzed five options at deficit reduction, one of which would required top tax rate of 77 percent. In a January 29 report, "Desperately Seeking Revenue," the Tax Policy Center analyzed "five possible ways in which we could raise the additional revenues needed to reach the goal of bringing down the five-year average deficit to either 2 percent or 3 percent of GDP." One of the options was to "raise tax rates proportionately on single taxpayers with income over $200,000 and married couples filing jointly with income over $250,000." The report concluded that, if only that option were implemented, the top tax rate would have to be set at 77 percent.