Monday, April 16, 2012

New York Times Erroneous Report on Taxes Illustrates What’s Wrong With American Journalists

We Cannot Have Intelligent Discussions Because We Do Not Have Intelligent Journalists

At the end of this year there are a large number of tax issues that will have to be dealt with by the President, (or the President elect if that is a different person than the President) and the Lame Duck Session of the Congress and the New Congress.  Because of a bi-partisan exercise in idiocy, a number of tax provision expire at the end of 2012.  Americans will be faced with a choice of continuing the tax cuts and accepting continued massive federal deficits, or allowing the tax cuts to expire, resulting in higher taxes for everyone, lower economic growth, lower tax collections and continued massive federal deficits.

As if all of this is not bad enough, the awful reporting on the subject is denying Americans the information they need to make their voices heard.  Here is the report in the New York Times talking about the Paul Ryan Plan.

Nobody knows for sure, but many economists believe that tax reform could lift economic growth, by freeing people to spend and work in the ways they think make the most sense, rather than in ways that happen to reduce their tax bill. Mr. Ryan’s plan would cut the top rate to 25 percent, from 35 percent, and still leave overall tax collection roughly where it has been, by eliminating tax breaks.

No No No No No.  This is flat out false.  Mr. Ryan’s plan would not leave overall tax collection roughly where it has been.  It would result in a huge tax cut for wealthy Americans and a huge increase in the deficit. 

Yes Mr. Ryan says his plan is revenue neutral, but saying something does not make it true.  The real situation is this

What’s missing from these plans is any detail on which tax breaks would be eliminated. Corporate lobbyists, like those at the Business Roundtable, offer an especially telling contrast: they urge the government to reform the tax code while continuing to push for loopholes that benefit them and generally refusing to name loopholes they would close.

And look at just some of the tax provisions that would have to be changed.

The tax breaks that cost the government the most money turn out to be overwhelmingly popular. The three largest are those for health insurance provided by employers, mortgage interest and 401(k)’s. Corporate tax breaks are smaller, but the biggest corporate breaksare often popular, too, like the one for research and development.

and even then the article does not name the real culprit.  In order to have even a chance to be revenue neutral the Ryan Plan would have to eliminate favorable taxation for capital gains.  And while Mr. Ryan does not release a single detail there is absolutely no chance that raising capital gains taxation is on the Republican agenda.

But the story doesn’t mention any of that, and so what could have been a serious report on the tax and revenue and deficit issues facing the country as it heads into the election becomes just another piece of tripe.

Oh, and there is this.  The debt ceiling will have to be raised at the end of the year.  How did that go last time?  No, that fact is not mentioned in the story.  Maybe it will be the topic for another meaningless, misleading poorly written article posing as journalism.

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