Fox Business has aired at least 11 segments in the past three days falsely claiming that the impending expiration of the Bush tax cuts at the end of the year will lead to the "Largest Tax Hike Ever." Most of these segments failed to acknowledge that President Obama's proposed budget calls for retaining the tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans.
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On-screen graphics countdown to "Largest Tax Hike Ever"
In the past few days, Fox Business Channel has repeatedly aired an on-screen countdown to what they deem is the "Largest Tax Hike Ever:"
From the July 13 edition of Fox Business' Bulls & Bears:
From the July 13 edition of Fox Business:
From the July 13 edition of Fox Business' Bulls & Bears:
Only three segments noted Obama's proposal to retain Bush tax cuts for "98% of all households." Of the eleven segments reviewed by Media Matters for America, only three referenced or alluded to Obama's fiscal year 2011 budget proposal, which explains that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts "will have no effect on the 98% of all households who make less than $250,000." The few mentions of this provision occurred during news coverage in the 11 a.m. ET hour on July 13 and the 1 p.m. ET hour on July 14, and on the July 13 edition of Bulls & Bears.
Fox Business fearmongers about rising taxes
Sullivan asks guest, "how much are taxes going to go up?" On July 14, Fox Business hosted Urban Institute Tax Policy Center director Donald Marron to discuss purported tax hikes. While displaying a countdown to the "Largest Tax Hike Ever," anchor Brian Sullivan asked "how much are taxes going to go up?" Later in the interview, Sullivan suggested that the government would try to raise revenue with provisions "that they may not call a tax, but we all know it is." Additionally, anchor Dagen McDowell asked which of the "favorite tax breaks for Americans" would "definitely go away."
MacDonald: "[T]he countdown continues to ... the largest tax hike in our history." On July 12, Fox Business anchor Elizabeth MacDonald claimed that "the countdown continues to what some analysts or numbers crunchers are saying could be the largest tax hike in our history." She continued by suggesting that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and additional taxes from the Obama health care bill are "fueling" the "fear of a double-dip recession." From the show:
MacDONALD: Next up, the countdown continues to what some analysts or number-crunchers are saying could be the largest tax hike in our history. As we have been reporting to you, in just six months, the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for investors, small business owners, and families will expire. Add to that more than 20 new or higher taxes in President Obama's health care reform bill, several of which go into effect at the start of the year. The alternative minimum tax will hit an estimated 28 million filers, up from about 4 million, and when you put it together this is fueling what some economists say could be the fear of a double-dip recession.
Claman: Are expiring tax cuts "evidence that tax hikes are coming"? Discussing the Bush tax cuts on the July 12 edition of Bulls & Bears, co-host Liz Claman suggested that because "those tax cuts expire at the end of the year," it is "perhaps evidence that tax hikes are coming." During the segment, Todd Wilemon of NYSE Euronext agreed that tax hikes were coming, and Gary B. Smith of TheChartman.com claimed that "the emphasis to hold on to the public's money and spend it as they see fit is just ingrained" in the Obama administration's "philosophy."
Varney, Fox Business: "Rich & The Middle Class Prepared For Largest Tax Hike In History." Stuart Varney discussed the expiration of the Bush tax cuts with author Robert Frank on the July 14 edition of Varney & Co., claiming that "the Obama administration is waging war on the rich." However, the on-screen text during the segment read: "Rich & The Middle Class Prepared For Largest Tax Hike In History." Additionally, during the segment, Varney showed the clock counting down to the "Largest Tax Hike Ever."
McDowell: "Nothing is being done" on "the largest tax hike in U.S. history." During the 1 p.m. ET hour of Fox Business' daily coverage, McDowell suggested that "nothing is being done" to address the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Later in the show, Brian Sullivan echoed McDowell's comments by asking, "What seems to missing from the D.C. agenda? Well, the largest tax hike in American history. Why isn't anything being done about it?" In the subsequent segment, correspondent Peter Barnes suggested that "with everything they have to do ... the clock is ticking down" for congressional Democrats to take action on the Bush tax cuts. He also reported that "it sounded like taxes were low on the list" of the White House's legislative priorities.
Asman: "Why aren't Democrats more focused on the expiring Bush tax cuts?" On the July 13 edition of Bulls & Bears, co-host David Asman asked: "With the midterm elections looming on the political horizon, why aren't Democrats more focused on the expiring Bush tax cuts?" Liz Claman continued by stating that "everybody thinks that the Obama administration isn't focusing on tax cuts" and asking guest former Sen. Gary Hart if they "have it wrong, or is that the right perception?" Hart rebutted the notion that Congress wouldn't be able to address an extension of the tax cuts before the end of the year, calling it "nonsense." During the segment, Fox Business included a graphic at the bottom of the screen which counted down to the "Largest Tax Hike Ever," with large stars on either side of the word "Ever."
Obama budget would extend middle-class tax cuts, keep Bush tax cuts for "98% of all households"
President Obama's proposed FY 2011 budget extends middle-class tax breaks, adds tax cuts for small businesses. According to a February 1 MarketWatch report, President Obama's budget proposal for fiscal year 2011 calls for the extension of the "Making Work Pay" tax breaks, which were "due to expire at the end of this year." Additionally, Obama noted that "we extend middle-class tax cuts in this budget." The article notes that Obama's budget "also includes new tax cuts for investing in small businesses and tax breaks for retrofitting homes to save energy."
Allowing Bush tax cuts to expire for top earners "will have no effect on the 98% of all households who make less than $250,000." According to Obama's FY 2011 budget proposal, "the President supports allowing [the Bush] tax cuts that affect families earning more than $250,000 a year to expire." The budget also noted that such an action "will have no effect on the 98% of all household who make less than $250,000." Further, the Boston Globe reportedon April 10 that "Obama wants to extend Bush's tax cuts, except for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and couples making $250,000."
It was Republicans who included expiration date on Bush tax cuts
GOP Congress enacted, Bush signed expiration provisions for Bush tax cuts at the end of 2010. With the exception of changes to the estate tax, the 2001 tax bill states: "All provisions of, and amendments made by, this Act shall not apply ... to taxable, plan, or limitation years beginning after December 31, 2010." The 2001 tax bill passed the House and Senate with near-unanimous Republican support. The 2003 tax bill -- which also passedboth houses with near-unanimous Republican support -- incorporated the sunset provisions from the 2001 tax bill.
Wash. Post: Sunsets allowed GOP to "boost the size of the tax cut" while "hiding its true cost" and getting Dem support. In a May 27, 2001, article, The Washington Post reported: "By terminating the tax cuts at the end of 2010, negotiators were able to avoid some tough decisions. Since they could now distribute the same amount of money over nine years rather than 10 years, they effectively boosted the size of the tax cut while at the same time hiding its true cost." The Post reported in a May 24, 2003, article that "by 'sunsetting' all the tax cuts well before the bill's official 2013 expiration date, congressional tax writers took a measure that otherwise would have cost the Treasury more than $800 billion over the next decade and crammed it into a $350 billion price tag that could garner just enough support to pass the Senate. Democrats and Republicans alike predict that future Congresses and administrations will not let the tax cuts expire."