“The secretary speaks,” ABC fill-in anchor David Muir excitedly teased at the top of Wednesday’s World News, “billionaire investor Warren Buffett and his secretary, who pays a much-higher tax rate than him. He says not fair. She’s now at the center of a huge debate. What does she think? An ABC News exclusive.” Muir promised that “tonight we hear from the secretary for the first time,” but she merely got to utter one sentence as ABC used her as a poster girl to hike taxes.
Reporter Bianna Golodryga recounted “a hero’s welcome” back in Omaha for “for a secretary thrust into the spotlight” by sitting as a stage prop behind the First Lady at Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. President Obama, Golodryga helpfully explained in advancing Obama’s agenda, called for a minimum 30 percent tax rate on millionaires “after Republican candidate Mitt Romney revealed he made almost $43 million over two years, paying a tax rate of 13.9 percent in 2010, not Debbie’s 35.8 percent.”
That 35.8 percent claim for secretary Debbie Bosanek is highly dubious. She may be in that bracket, but is that really her effective rate on all of her income and not just her marginal rate? Does she rent and not get a mortgage interest deduction? Does she have any deductions for dependents? Golodryga did not say on air nor in the ABCNews.com version which at least mentioned Buffett is “a Democrat and Obama-supporter.”
The average effective federal income tax rate for taxpayers is 11 percent, I noted in my January 24 post, “Nets Use Romney’s Taxes to Advance Obama’s False ‘Fairness’ Narrative,” which includes a table showing those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 pay an average effective income tax rate of 7 percent, 8 percent for those taking in $75,000 to $100,000 and 12 percent for those between $100,000 and $200,000.
No matter what Buffett pays her, if she’s paying 35.8 percent she has an awful accountant. More likely, she’s paying a lot less, maybe even at a lower rate than Romney since, as USA Today reported last week, “he's paying a higher tax rate than the majority of taxpayers.”
Bosanek’s one soundbite in Golodryga’s piece: “Right. I feel like an average citizen. Maybe I should say I was representing just the average citizen, who, you know, needs a voice and wants to be treated fairly in the area of taxation.”
This is hardly the first time ABC’s World News has championed Warren Buffett’s quest to raise income tax rates. Last September, Golodryga gushed:
Today, an unassuming secretary who lives in Omaha and happens to work for billionaire Warren Buffett may be the arbiter of what is fair and not in America. Buffett, worth $50 billion, recently expressed outrage that under the American tax code, he paid just 17.4 percent of his income in taxes while his secretary paid double that rate at 33 percent.
(Note 33 percent for Bosanek just five months ago, not 35.8 percent)
A month earlier, “Billionaires on notice,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer teased World News in trumpeting, as did CBS and NBC, a New York Times op-ed by Buffett. Sawyer heralded Buffett’s quest: “Is it time for the mega-rich to pay at least the same tax rate as their secretaries? And if they did pay their fair share, would it fix America's schools or roads?”
The corresponding MRC BiasAlert has a transcript of the Wednesday, January 25 World News story.