AP Uses Liberal Think Tank Study to Advance Obama Tax Push

A liberal-leaning organization has produced a report on the 2008 presidential candidates’ tax plans and, accordingly, the Associated Press has jumped on it.In her June 17 article, AP’s Liz Sidoti used a recent study by the Tax Policy Center -- a project of the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution and Urban Institute -- to advance the notion that Obama’s tax policies favor the middle class while McCain’s policies favor the wealthy:

Overall, the Tax Policy Center said people with very high incomes would benefit the most under McCain's proposal, while low- and middle-income taxpayers would see larger tax breaks under Obama's plan and wealthy taxpayers would see their taxes increase.

Sidoti left out, of course, the liberal tendencies of these two organizations. Instead, Sidoti described the Tax Policy Center as a “nonpartisan joint project of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute.” Later, Sidoti noted that this particular report is “seemingly the first nonpartisan comprehensive comparison of the plans.” Of course it’s a “nonpartisan” report, but that merely means the group doesn’t answer to a political party apparatus. That doesn’t, however, mean the authors don’t sympathize with one side over the other. For example, Len Burman, one of the six co-authors of the study, called for the repeal of the Bush tax cuts in a New York Times op-ed. Further, an asterisk which appears on the first page of the report notes that the report is based on (emphasis mine) “candidates’ statements and websites and our assumptions about essential elements unspecified by the campaigns.” The article does refer to McCain as a “crusader against wasteful spending,” but Sidoti is skeptical about cutting spending actually being able to balance the budget: “[McCain] has yet to show he can save enough to do it.” Sidoti then railed against the cost of the Iraq war: “At the same time, the Republican says that Congress must continue to fund an Iraq war that already has cost more than $500 billion.On the other hand, the AP writer never questioned Obama’s plans to balance the budget or whether his plan to raise taxes on corporations would ultimately hurt consumers:

Obama, in turn, has proposed billions of dollars in spending to create jobs and pad government programs aimed at helping the less fortunate. He has said that the money will come from ending the Iraq war, slicing tax breaks for corporations, and raising taxes on high-income earners, efforts he says are intended to shift more of the tax burden to wealthy Americans.

While Sidoti did label Obama’s tax policies as “liberal,” she modified the L-word with the adverb “seemingly”: “Obama, the Democrat, seemingly has a traditional liberal outlook of taxing the rich more while having the government help people of more modest means through tax breaks.” There you have it. To Sidoti, raising taxes on the “wealthy” and increasing the capital gains tax to be “fair” while pumping more taxpayer money into social programs is only “seemingly” liberal.