WaPo's Tumulty Calls Clinton's 1993 Tax Increase a 'Deficit Reduction Plan'

If the idea of tax increases is so darned popular, why do journalists "creatively" avoid using the term?

Here's an example from a lengthy Saturday report on Democrat Bob Kerrey's U.S. Senate comeback effort in Nebraska by Karen Tumulty at the Washington Post, wherein she describes the 1993 Clinton tax hikes as a "deficit-reduction plan" (bolds are mine):


In 1993, the fate of Clinton’s deficit-reduction plan came down to Kerrey’s vote. After he and the president got into a profanity-laced argument over the telephone, Kerrey went missing, sending the White House and his Senate colleagues scrambling to find him. It turned out he had strolled out of the Capitol to catch a movie — the Tina Turner biopic “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” — at nearby Union Station. In the end, Kerrey supported the bill, though he lamented at the time that his “heart aches” because it “challenges Americans to do too little.”

Now, Kerrey portrays that kind of independence as an antidote to the rancor that has paralyzed Washington.

Tumuly's only reference to taxes is to note that Kerrey pays them: "He noted that he has continued to own businesses and pay taxes in the state."

Just to be clear, the web site of Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform describes what Kerrey's deciding vote enabled:

As Bob Kerrey ramps up his U.S. Senate campaign, Nebraska taxpayers are reminded of his left-leaning track record. Most prominent was his deciding vote in favor of President Bill Clinton’s 1993 tax hike, which Kerrey himself declared the “biggest tax increase in the history of the country.”

“Kerrey helped lead the fight to unravel Ronald Reagan’s bipartisan Tax Reform Act of 1986 when Kerrey supported first George H.W. Bush’s 1990 tax increases and then Bill Clinton’s 1993 tax increases,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Both of these tax increases made the federal income tax structure more burdensome, less transparent, and more costly to taxpayers.”

... the Clinton tax package increased gas taxes and hiked the corporate income tax rate from 34 to 35 percent. It substantially raised the top personal/small employer rate—from 31 to 39.6 percent.

The implications could not be clearer: Bob Kerrey will resume his support of tax increases if given the opportunity. Once a tax hiker, always a tax hiker.

As to Kerrey's claimed "independence" -- uh, Bob, you voted for the tax increase, not against it. After-the-fact whining doesn't change that.

As to Tumulty's description of the tax increase as a "deficit-reduction plan," two years later the Gingrich Congress and the Clinton White House were in discussions on how to balance the budget in seven, eight or nine years, so it's pretty obvious that deficit reduction wasn't exactly a key feature of the Clinton tax increases. It wasn't until 1998, two years after the Republican-controlled Congress had cornered Clinton into signing off on welfare reform (in 1996) and the year after getting a capital gains tax cut (in 1997) that the federal budget came into reported balance. Clinton's tax hikes contributed very little, if anything, to deficit reduction.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.