Today's starter topic: For the longest time, the 1950s were the subject of left-wing derision. Lately, though, that decade has become fashionable as statists yearn for what they believe to be the much higher (up to 91 percent) tax rate which was imposed on wealthy Americans. Unfortunately for them, this is a pure fantasy. While there were indeed higher tax rates back in those days, due to no cap on deductions, basically no one paid the high rates. And lower- and middle-income Americans paid far more taxes than they do today. Investor Peter Schiff lays out the facts and figures in a must-read article in today's Wall Street Journal.
Sometimes the obvious stops being elusive even to a liberal.
For most of the young millennium, use of the term "Bush tax cuts" by anyone left of center has more often than not been accompanied by the words "for the rich." The pair have been joined at the hip so often that a Google search for them yields more than 5 million hits. (audio clips after page break)
ABC News, which previously mocked the loss of 18,000 jobs at Hostess, now has concern for the unemployed, worrying about those who will lose benefits if a deal on the fiscal cliff cannot be found. Reporter Jon Karl on Wednesday's World News fretted, "Without a deal, unemployment compensation will end for more than two million people who've been out of work more than 26 weeks."
Karl highlighted the case of Melinda Vega, worrying about "her $450 a week unemployment check, her lifeline." However, ABC journalists were less concerned about unemployment when it didn't involve possible tax increases. On November 16, 2012, Good Morning America's co-anchors mocked the bankruptcy of Hostess, passing out Twinkies.
Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) a golden opportunity to prove just how popular President Obama's plan to avert the fiscal cliff is with his member of his own party. But, true to form, Sen. Reid refused to schedule the vote. "Not a single Senate Democrat has stepped forward to support it, and if you look at it you can see why.... It increases taxes," McConnell was quoted by Ramsey Cox in a story filed the afternoon of December 5 for TheHill.com. For his part, Reid dismissed McConnell's push for a vote as a stunt, although just last week he praised the president's plan, suggesting Obama and Senate Democrats were "on the same page."
Unfortunately this development failed to receive any mention on the evening newscasts for ABC, CBS, or NBC, nor on the December 6 morning programs for the same networks. Likewise both the New York Times and Washington Post December 6 print editions failed to report Reid's refusal to schedule a vote.
"Militantly non-partisan" Major Garrett sounded more like an Obama administration flack on Thursday's CBS This Morning as he spotlighted the President's latest P.R. stunt. Garrett noted Obama's plan to visit a northern Virginia middle-class family and claimed that the Democrat was underlining the "self-evident point that if the there is a deal and their taxes aren't raised by about $2,000, they'll be happier and spend more money."
The correspondent also uncritically pointed out how Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner signaled that the White House was willing to go over the fiscal cliff if their demand for higher taxes isn't satisfied.
Once again, CNN's Soledad O'Brien grilled a Republican while giving an easy interview to a Democrat. She pushed Republicans to increase taxes on Wednesday's Starting Point, but, showing her double standard, she let President Obama's former deputy campaign manager attack the GOP fiscal cliff proposals.
O'Brien told Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) that Republicans could "do some kind of a deal now and that will keep us from going over the fiscal cliff? Andthen you can let the tax cuts expire for the wealthy January 1st. It happens. And you can do some kind of a negotiation." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, Major Garrett promoted a thinly-veiled version of President Obama's "Scrooge Christmas" attack on congressional Republicans. After spotlighting how White House Press Secretary Jay Carney maligned the GOP's fiscal cliff solution as "magic beans and fairy dust," Garrett added that the "Republicans answered back – bah, humbug."
The CBS morning newscast, along with NBC's Today, aided the President by failing to point out that his rejection of the Republican plan is a 180 from his position in 2011. That year, the Democrat called for "$1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking tax rates by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions."
During the December 4 edition of the PBS NewsHour, anchor Gwen Ifill decided to give a lofty eight minute and forty second interview to Obama cheerleader and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman so he can try to convince us that the fiscal cliff isn’t that big of a deal. Of course, in his estimation, Democratic proposals for higher taxes and higher spending were serious, while Republican alternatives to tackle the deficit were trivial. In fact, according to Krugman, “Obama is actually very serious in the real sense. It's just the notion he hasn't done anything on entitlement reform is totally unfair. He's done more than anyone has ever done before.”
And that’s why he needs $1.6 trillion dollars in tax hikes and $50 billion in additional stimulus spending to be "serious" about reining in deficit spending?!
One year ago, Barack Obama backed a budget solution that would not "hike" tax rates. Now, the President rejects this plan, an apparent flip-flop only ABC's Jake Tapper reported. House Speaker John Boehner has proposed a plan that increases revenues though the closing of loopholes and the elimination of deductions.
On Wednesday's Good Morning America, Tapper reminded that "what the Republicans are offering sounds a lot like what the President wanted during last year's budget showdown." He then played a 2011 clip of Obama requesting, "Give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking tax rates by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] CBS This Morning and NBC's Today both ignored this quote.
On Wednesday's NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd proclaimed that despite fiscal cliff negotiations being "in such a bad state," one bit of "good news" was that House Republicans "realize they don't have much leverage right now" and predicted they would eventually sign on to tax hikes proposed by President Obama. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Moments later, co-host Savannah Guthrie declared: "Speaker John Boehner is probably in the most unenviable position because he has to get the deal, he has to sell it to the far right of his caucus in the House. Can he get that deal?"
Liberals can’t stand Grover Norquist. For years, they have lambasted and name-called Norquist, the president of American’s for Tax Reform: a staunch anti-tax hike group. But now the liberal media is also focused on him, in some cases rejoicing that he might lose his “stranglehold” over Republicans on the issue of taxes.
Left-wing websites like Daily Kos, Salon and The Huffington Post all exude vitriol with phrases like “idiot terrorist,” “anti-tax jihadist,” “enemy of the state” and “anti-tax fetishist.” HuffPo has been gleefully reporting about GOP tax “defectors” for over a year, long before it became the liberal media’s obsession.
New York Times's Sheryl Gay Stolberg profiled White House chief of staff and "fiscal cliff" negotiator Jacob Lew (who may be the next Treasury secretary) on Sunday's front page, calling liberal Lew "a policy nerd" who "morphs into a warrior" when it comes to helping the poor. Yet he's also a "pragmatist," just like his boss Barack Obama, and also makes "a mean potato kugel."
Former Newsweek editor Howard Fineman apologized on Monday for his "inadvertent smear" against Grover Norquist. First reported on NewsBusters, Fineman appeared on the December 3 Hardball and slammed the President of Americans for Tax Reform. The journalist railed, "A long time before the Tea Party existed or had a name, Grover Norquist, the famous anti-tax lobbyist in Washington, was running around beginning to enforce, ayatollah-style, his edict about taxes."
Four hours after the comment, Fineman tweeted an apology, allowing, "Apologies to Grover Norquist and his Muslim wife for inadvertent slur on #MSNBC #Hardball, calling him 'Ayatollah' of GOP anti-tax movement."
During the panel discussion on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, CNBC Mad Money host Jim Cramer launched an assault against Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist for holding Republicans to a pledge not to raise taxes: "What this is about is avoiding a recession which is going to happen....You're going to sacrifice that on the cross of two percent. Is that what you want?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Norquist, a fellow panelist, shot back: "I'm supportive of the Republican position, which is we need to have economic growth, not higher taxes. If we grew at four percent a year instead of two percent a year, Reagan levels instead of Obama levels, for one decade we'd net five trillion in additional revenue. That would pay down the debt that Obama has run up with the Solyndra stimulus stuff."
New York Times Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt appeared on The Diane Rehm Show on NPR Friday and purveyed Washington's conventional wisdom about how Republicans were losing the battle of the "fiscal cliff." Leonhardt also foresaw "the end of the great era of American tax cutting."
After Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal brought up Republican Rep. Tom Cole taking Obama's position, Leonhardt responded: "And that is a very big deal because while the fiscal cliff talks at most have been happening behind the scenes, what President Obama has talked about the most in public is pushing Congress to vote on this extension of the Bush-era tax rates for, he says, 98 percent of the American people. The fact that Tom Cole is a powerful Republican in the House, has said, yeah, let's go ahead with that and then deal with the top 2 percent later. It would be a big victory for President Obama and something that I think many Democrats and outside observers did not expect him to get quite as easily is it looks like it might be on the verge of happening."
[UPDATE: Fineman apologized. For more, go here.] MSNBC contributor and Huffington Post editor Howard Fineman on Monday smeared Grover Norquist as "ayatollah"-like for his opposition to higher taxes. Talking to Hardball's Chris Matthews, Fineman fumed, "...A long time before the Tea Party existed or had a name, Grover Norquist, the famous anti-tax lobbyist in Washington, was running around beginning to enforce, ayatollah-style, his edict about taxes." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
According to Fineman, this Middle Eastern-style pledge "has really become the core identity of the modern conservative Republican party." Anchor Matthews ludicrously described GOP fidelity to Norquist as "human bondage."
But in fact, most Americans in 2010 paid far less in total taxes -- federal, state and local -- than they would have paid 30 years ago. According to an analysis by The New York Times, the combination of all income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes took a smaller share of their income than it took from households with the same inflation-adjusted income in 1980.
ABC News continued to hype the Democratic position on the fiscal cliff, Sunday. World News Reporter David Kerley touted the White House as "confident with the stronger hand in talks with House Republicans, demanding and believing tax rates for the wealthy are going up."
The reporter did play a clip of Boehner rejecting tax increases, but Kerley made sure to point out the Speaker "hasn't outlined possible cuts." In one of multiple clips of Tim Geithner, the Treasury Secretary lectured, "They have to come to us and tell us what they think they need. What we can't do is to keep guessing. "
Appearing on Monday's MSNBC Morning Joe, NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd shared some inside information: "So I threw the Lincoln analogy at a close aide to the President last week, and he said, 'You know, with this Republican – with the way politics of Washington are today, there'd still be slavery.' That Lincoln wouldn't have been able to navigate the polarization..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Rather than dismiss such a nasty partisan attack, Todd observed: "It was an interesting and depressing observation from this very smart White House aide."
On today's Morning Joe, asked by substitute host Willie Geist how much of the tough talk by Republicans and Dems over the fiscal cliff was posturing, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele said that 80% was posturing, then added "a lot of it is, let's see how big yours is versus mine."
Steele was careful to suggest he was simply talking about the size of the two parties' respective . . . plans. But between the smirks, raised eyebrows—and an immediate intervention from Geist—it seemed obvious that Steele was making a macho allusion to something else. View the video after the jump.
In a colorful demonstration of the Washington press corps’ disdain for Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge, on Sunday’s This Week, a flustered ABC News/NPR veteran Cokie Roberts blurted out: “It’s...politically smart to cut the knees out from under Grover Norquist. I mean this guy is, you know, who is he? He’s an unelected lobbyist.”
She soon urged that “a certain amount of saying ‘the emperor has no clothes’” about Norquist is helpful. “To say that, I think is very useful.”
"A massive tax increase, no entitlement reform, and no restraint on borrowing," is what President Obama is demanding Republicans sign off on, Fox Business Network's Stuart Varney noted on Friday's Varney & Co. That's precisely why the Democratic plan is not in any way a serious plan, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell agreed. The only thing is the media absolutely refuse to paint the president as intransigent and bullheaded for his opposition to spending cuts, much less entitlement reform.
Over the past two years we've heard ad nauseam that we need spending cuts and tax hikes as a "balanced" approach to the budget. But now, the Media Research Center founder noted, "we've got the Senate saying that the one problem, entitlements, is now off the table" while the "White House [is] saying we don't have any plans to cut anything." "In other words, there is no plan, that should be the story," Bozell added, not this phony meme that Republican opposition to tax hikes is to blame for a stalemate. [watch the full segment below]
CNN's Ali Velshi labeled anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist a "dangerous man" on Friday for blocking a fiscal cliff compromise between Democrats and Republicans.
"Hey, speaking of the fiscal cliff, there's been all this focus on one dangerous man who stands in the way of a deal that could avert it, Grover Norquist. He is neither elected, nor has he ever run for office, so why is Washington so scared of him?" Velshi introduced his segment on Norquist. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
One bright spot of Barack Obama's re-election was knowing that unemployment rates were about to soar for the precise groups that voted for him -- young people, unskilled workers and single women with degrees in gender studies. But now the Democrats are sullying my silver lining by forcing Republicans to block an utterly pointless tax-raising scheme in order to blame the coming economic Armageddon on them.
Democrats are proposing to reinstate the Bush tax cuts for everyone ... except "the rich." (Why do only tax cuts come with an expiration date? Why not tax increases? Why not Obamacare? How about New York City's "temporary" rent control measures intended for veterans returning from World War II?)
Congress returned to "work" this week (now there's a laugh) to complete its lame-duck session before taking another holiday. Spending other people's money is a taxing experience.
Their task is to avoid the "fiscal cliff," a geological construct of their own making. It doesn't take a genius to predict both parties will try to do two things: (1) reach an agreement that will allow each side to take some credit and (2) require those who work for a living to pay government more while they come up with phony, or inconsequential spending "cuts."
A search at the Associated Press's national website on Warren Buffett's last name at about 5 p.m. ET returned two recent items which are still present there. Each item (here and here) mentions the Obama Fan of Omaha's idea to "impose a minimum tax of 30 percent on income between $1 million and $10 million, and a 35 percent rate for income above that." Neither mentions the pathetically small amount such a tax would raise while seriously impacting the ability of high income earners who own or run businesses to expand them -- or in some cases causing them to shrink.
It's the same at other establishment press outlets. Two recent New York Times items found in a search on Buffett's full name (here and here, the latter item being Buffett's own op-ed on Sunday) fail to note how little money Buffett's proposed tax hikes would raise. So how little is "little"?
NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell appeared on the November 28 edition of CNBC's Kudlow Report, in his capacity as chairman of For America.
Kudlow brought the Media Research Center founder on to discuss the fiscal cliff and the need for Republicans to stand firm on opposing tax hikes, especially in light of the liberal media's tag-teaming with Democrats. "I can't hardly pick up a newspaper or website and not see anybody blaming [anti-tax-hike activist] Grover [Norquist]," Kudlow observed. You can watch that full segment below the page break. You can also find a transcript courtesy of Media Research Center intern Ryan Robertson below ( MP3 audio here):