NYT and ‘Politically Potent’ GOP Tax Myths

The New York Times’ Jackie Calmes has a report today (4/15/10) about the brewing fight over the Bush tax cuts, which were passed for limited time period and will phase out if Congress does not pass legislation to extend them. The Obama White House will ask lawmakers to renew most of the tax cuts, but let those for wealthy taxpayers expire. This obviously does not sit well with Republicans, and they have a plan, which the Times describes in the third paragraph of the story:

For all of the talk from President Obama and his party of ending the Bush tax cuts, letting that happen could be harder for some Democratic lawmakers from Republican-leaning districts or states. Republicans already are reviving what has sometimes proven an effective, if disputed, argument in the past: that rich taxpayers include many small businesses whose owners pay income taxes as individuals.

So Republicans will say that small business will be hurt if the tax cuts expire as the law stipulates.This argument is “disputed.” How, and by whom? Well, if you want to know that, you have to read all the way to the final two paragraphs of the article (emphasis added):

Democrats express confidence that Republicans will not kill a bill that benefits most Americans. But some worry that Republicans could delay action by pressing the argument that it would increase taxes for small businesses, discomfiting Democrats with re-election troubles and requiring some Republican votes for a supermajority.

Already Democrats are countering that most small businesses would not be affected; government data show that 97 percent of individual tax returns with business income would not be hit by the top rates. But, some Democrats acknowledge, the Republicans’ argument has proven politically potent in the past.

So now, after reading to the very end of the article, we know the answer–that this GOP talking point is bogus. Why not put that at the top, where the claim about hurting small businesses actually appears?

The reason these arguments are”politically potent” might have something to do with the media’s reticence to call them what they are.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.