NBC Frames Tax Cut Story Around Liberal Theme of How They Benefit the Rich

<img vspace="0" hspace="0" border="0" align="right" src="/media/2005-12-08-NBCNNtaxcut.jpg" />The Thursday <i>NBC Nightly News</i> framed the House vote, to extend dividend and capital gain tax rate reductions another two years beyond their December 31, 2008 scheduled end, through a liberal prism which assumes all the money earned belongs to the government and that measures the fairness by the dollar amount of cuts for the rich versus the poor -- a silly notion since the wealthy pay most of the taxes. If the extension is not passed by the Senate and signed by the President, tax rates would rise at the beginning of 2009.<br /><br />Anchor Brian Williams set up the story: “The House passed its version of a bill that would keep tax cuts for capital gains and dividends in place through the year 2010. It is a top priority for the Bush administration, but some in Congress today said those priorities are misplaced.” Chip Reid interwove soundbites from two liberal Democrats around his observation that “it was at times a furious debate, Democrats accusing Republicans of using tax cuts to reward the rich.” With a matching graphic on screen, Reid relayed how “Democrats say” that “nearly half” of the cut, 48 percent, “will go to people making more than $500,000 a year.” Reid segued to a third Democratic soundbite: “Mississippi Democrat Gene Taylor, whose district was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, says the cuts show Republican priorities are, quote, 'screwed up.'&quot; Reid ran two Republican soundbites as he noted how “Republicans defend the cuts as an essential part of President Bush's domestic agenda. Tax cuts for investors, they say, fuel a growing economy,&quot; but he countered that with how “a non-partisan deficit watchdog says tax cuts can hurt the economy when Congress fails to pay for them.&quot; Yes, tax cuts must be “paid for.” (Transcript follows.)<br /><br />Neither ABC’s <i>World News Tonight</i> nor the <i>CBS Evening News</i> mentioned the tax cut votes, the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth informed me.<br /><blockquote>Brian Williams introduced the December 8 NBC Nightly News story: &quot;Now to Capitol Hill, where negotiators agreed to extend the Patriot Act before it expires at the end of this month. The anti-terrorism law has its critics, and one Democratic Senator, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, is threatening a filibuster to block the extension. Also on the Hill tonight, the House passed its version of a bill that would keep tax cuts for capital gains and dividends in place through the year 2010. It is a top priority for the Bush administration, but some in Congress today said those priorities are misplaced. Here with that, NBC's Chip Reid.&quot;<br /><br />Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), moving money between baskets labeled “Poor and Middle Class” and Millionaires,” on the House floor: Christmas stockings: &quot;It's going to be put over here into tax breaks for millionaires.&quot;<br /><br />Chip Reid: &quot;It was at times a furious debate, Democrats accusing Republicans of using tax cuts to reward the rich-&quot;<br /><br />Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), on House floor: &quot;Isn't that great? So the wealthy will be able to buy more yachts to float on the sea of red ink that the Republicans have created. They'll be able to hire more help around the mansion.&quot;<br /><br />Reid, over a matching graphic: &quot;The bill's centerpiece is a two-year extension of tax cuts on stock dividends and capital gains worth $20 billion. Nearly half that [48%], Democrats say, will go to people making more than $500,000 a year. Mississippi Democrat Gene Taylor, whose district was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, says the cuts show Republican priorities are, quote, 'screwed up.'&quot; <br /><br />Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS), on House floor: &quot;So what do you bring to the floor? Is it hurricane relief? Is it something to help the average Joes? It's a tax break for the wealthiest one percent of America.&quot;<br /><br />Reid: &quot;But Republicans defend the cuts as an essential part of President Bush's domestic agenda. Tax cuts for investors, they say, fuel a growing economy.&quot;<br /><br />Rep. Melissa Hart (R-PA), on House floor: &quot;Since the capital gains and dividends taxes were reduced in 2003, we've seen 10 straight quarters of, what is it, growth.&quot;<br /><br />Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), on House floor: &quot;Tax relief has already created more than 4.4 million new jobs, but if you raise taxes, you start taking these jobs away.&quot;<br /><br /><img vspace="0" hspace="0" border="0" align="right" src="/media/2005-12-08-NBCNNReid.jpg" />Reid: &quot;But a non-partisan deficit watchdog says tax cuts can hurt the economy when Congress fails to pay for them.&quot;<br /><br />Robert Bixby, identified on screen as a “balanced budget advocate,” [he’s Executive Director of the Concord Coalition]: &quot;Congress' appetite for tax cuts is much greater than its appetite for spending cuts, and, as a result, we get large budget deficits.&quot;<br /><br />Reid concluded from Capitol Hill: &quot;Case in point, in the last two days, the House has voted to cut taxes $96 billion, almost double what Congress wants to cut in spending. Chip Reid, NBC News, the Capitol.&quot;</blockquote><br />

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center