'liberal' media watch
I haven't commented on Tim Russert using data spoon-fed to him by the Administration to sandbag Democratic candidate Howard Dean on a recent airing of Meet the Press, because I didn't watch the program. But I note with interest that not only did a news organ conspire with a politician's opponent to obtain damaging data --rather than, say, doing research of their own -- but also that the Administration's data is misleading -- and, for once, the Administrations admits it, and even boasts that the bogus data makes them look good, so they'll keep right on using it!
The Bush administration yesterday released a highly selective analysis of the cost to families of rolling back scheduled tax cuts, an early sign of the White House's plan to brand Democrats as tax raisers throughout their race for the presidential nomination.
In addition to using the issue to inject himself into the Democratic campaign, President Bush plans to make the extension and preservation of tax cuts a centerpiece of his general election campaign, senior Republican officials said.
The seven-page analysis, by the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Analysis, asserts that repealing the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and last month would mean a tax hike of $1,933 for a married couple with two children and an income of $40,000. Their taxes would go from $45 to $1,978, for an increase of 4,296 percent, the study said.
"If you are advocating repealing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, you are advocating a significant tax increase on the American people," said Rob Nichols, the Treasury Department's chief spokesman. "You're talking about raising taxes on roughly 100 million households."
Strategists for several of the Democratic candidates said they will try to avoid such a label by calling for changes only in the tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest Americans.
Howard Dean, a Democratic presidential candidate and former Vermont governor, was confronted with the Treasury Department figures on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday. He said they do not account for increases in property taxes because of cuts in federal services and shortfalls in federal aid to education.
"The real effect of the Bush tax cuts has actually been to raise taxes on most middle-class people and to cut their services," Dean said.
The research was prepared at the request of "Meet the Press," NBC and Bush officials said. The analysis does not include single people or lower-income couples, two groups that benefit little from Bush's cuts. Four of the examples involve married couples with one or two children making $40,000 to $75,000 a year, and the other two concern spouses who are both age 65.
Peter R. Orszag, a senior fellow in economics at the Brookings Institution, said the document "gives a misleading impression of the overall effect of the tax cuts." Just 27 million of the nation's roughly 140 million households consist of married couples with children, he said. Brookings figures show that under the most recent law, 81 percent of households would save $1,000 or less.
Nevertheless, Republican officials said the figures will be used as a weapon [Emphasis added] as Bush argues on the campaign trail that the tax cuts should be made permanent instead of ending over the next seven years, as they are scheduled to do.
A presidential adviser said Bush and his campaign will be aggressive in claiming that Democratic plans would amount to a tax increase.
As I've said before, if the expiration of these tax cuts is a tax increase, then it's a tax increase Bush himself signed. The Democrats simply must not allow the GOP to get away with this bogus argument.
Skeptical Notion is the go-to guy on this sorry situation, with this spot-on summary:
- The Bush Administration released a deliberately misleading report.
- They prepared the report for a member of the press. [Ed: At the press's request, yet!]
- The member of the press used that report to attack Howard Dean.
- GOP officials acknowledge it's deceptive, but plan to use it anyways.
Why am I not surprised...