Nearly 80 percent of the $858 billion “cost” of the compromise tax bill signed Friday by President Barack Obama is, per a Congressional Research Service estimate, from the $675 billion over the next ten years the government would have received if income tax rates were raised, a perspective widely adopted by network reporters and hosts who assumed just keeping rates at their current levels should be counted as a “cost” to the national debt and annual deficits.
“The $858 billion price tag for this bill will be added to the already $14 trillion national debt,” ABC’s Jake Tapper concluded Friday night, “meaning we, our children and our children's children will likely be on the hook for the law that was passed today.”
The Sunday interview shows echoed Tapper’s spin. On CBS’s Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer lamented how the tax bill “is going to just add to the deficit.” David Gregory, interviewing Vice President Biden on Meet the Press, bemoaned how the tax compromise will “add a trillion dollars to the deficit.” Later in the program, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough also exaggerated the $858 billion to $1 trillion as he declared: “It straps us with another trillion dollars worth of debt.”
Over on the roundtable on ABC’s This Week, Chrystia Freeland, global editor-at-large for Thomson-Reuters, expressed the core of the media hostility to the compromise – it didn’t raise income tax rates. Deriding the “Santa Claus deal. It’s really easy to cut everybody’s taxes and then have more money for poor people,” Freeland yearned:
Seriously attacking the deficit is going to mean looking forward to also increasing taxes. Someone’s gotta pay them.
From Sunday, December 19:
Bob Schieffer, on Face the Nation, to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar:
Both sides agree that we’re facing this fiscal abyss here, and yet you did have this bi-partisan tax bill pass that is going to just add to the deficit. So how do you justify that?
From Meet the Press:
David Gregory to Vice President Joe Biden: “Can you be thought as being serious of cutting the deficit when, within 80 hours of announcing the deficit commission's proposals, this administration agrees to add a trillion dollars to the deficit?”
Joe Scarborough: “There was nothing tough about this bill. In fact, it's frightening. It straps us with another trillion dollars worth of debt.”
Andrea Mitchell: “Basically, they have so raised the level from which you’re eventually going to have to cut. To say that we're going to get serious about deficit cutting in the future is really silly at this point.”
Jake Tapper concluded his story on Friday’s (December 17) World News, in which he noted the two percentage rate cut in the payroll tax and how “wealthy individuals like the President - he made $5.5 million in 2008, mostly from brook sales - will keep more of their money” as “the President will keep almost $300,000 because of the law” while “for the unemployed, it's a more modest benefit - $270 a week,” by telling anchor Diane Sawyer:
And, Diane, none of this takes into consideration that the $858 billion price tag for this bill will be added to the already $14 trillion national debt, meaning we, our children and our children's children will likely be on the hook for the law that was passed today.
— Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.