Today, talk-show heavyweight Rush Limbaugh picked up on a curious oversight by an AP business reporter whose negative spin in supposedly objective stories on the economy has frequently been noted here.
In a Friday story about a survey of top financial company executives, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger wrote the following (bold is mine):
Turmoil in credit and housing markets will be the most significant threat to growth this year, according to a survey of top financial company executives released Friday.
These executives believe there is a high probability — 88 percent — that the country will suffer a recession in the next 12 months.
..... After credit market tumult and troubles in the housing market, the executives listed the next biggest threats to the economy now as the possibility the government will impose higher taxes or raise protectionist barriers to foreign competition.
It is fairly typical for AP's business reporters to comment on where the president, his critics, or the current crop of presidential aspirants stand on a particular identified issue. But Crutsinger was curiously silent in this particular story about where the threat of higher taxes and trade barriers financial executives are worried about is coming from.
Limbaugh did the work Crutsinger wouldn't do (links at Rush's site go behind a subscription wall after a week):
What party is out there promising to raise taxes? Doesn't matter. Both Hillary and Obama are promising to raise taxes, and when you listen to Obama tell us why, it's not about raising revenue. The whole purpose of the tax code is to raise revenue, to fund government services, blah, blah, blah. We all know this. But not with Obama. To him, the tax code is to be used as punishment. It's to try to perfect everybody, make everybody equal, it's to punish people who, in Obama's view, have enough. And the same thing with Mrs. Clinton, who's out there saying she wants to take Big Oil's profits and pour them into research on alternative fuels.
So the way I would write this story, "After credit market tumult and troubles in the housing market, the executives listed the next biggest threats to the economy now as the possibility that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will be elected president," because they're the ones who are talking about imposing higher taxes and raising protectionist barriers to foreign competition, i.e., NAFTA, and not passing the Colombia free trade agreement.
Rush also could have mentioned the fact that the execs would be specifically worried about the expiration of the current tax regime that resulted from the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003.
A 2006 Heritage Foundation report noted that after six years (2003-2008) under the current tax system, expiration of changes made in 2001 and 2003 would cause tax increases to kick in as early as 2009, specifically:
- Tax rates will rise substantially in each tax bracket, some by 450 basis points;
- Low-income taxpayers will see the 10-percent tax bracket disappear, and they will have to pay taxes at the 15-percent rate;
- Married taxpayers will see the marriage penalty return;
- Taxpayers with children will lose 50 percent of their child tax credits;
- Taxes on dividends will increase beginning on January 1, 2009;
- Taxes on capital gains will increase, also beginning on January 1, 2009; and
- Federal death taxes will come back to life in 2011, after fading down to nothing in 2010.
The Heritage study also pointed to significant economic growth and job growth that would result if these tax increases were prevented from taking effect.
Crutsinger, as Limbaugh noted, could easily have told us which presidential candidates favor imposing these taxes, and which do not. But the AP reporter didn't go there. I wonder why not?
Cross-posted in slightly revised form at BizzyBlog.com.