Sunday's Washington Post carried a story by reporter Lori Montgomery with a surprising headline: "Obama Tax Plan Would Balloon Deficit, Analysis Finds." The Post is highlighting research from the "nonpartisan" Tax Policy Center, a project of two liberal think tanks, the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute.
Measured against current law and against the promises of his fellow Democrats, Obama would rack up huge deficits. According to a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Obama's tax plan would add $3.4 trillion to the national debt, including interest, by 2018.
This is a challenge to the Obama-loving media. Network anchors like Matt Lauer and George Stephanopoulos have used the Tax Policy Center estimates against John McCain. Will they report these numbers and offer negative coverage to Obama? Will they ask him to rebut them?
The Post might crow that they have demonstrated their independence from Obama by highlighting a negative policy theme. This story is certainly a piece of evidence that the Post isn't "in the tank" for Obama. But the story also clearly demonstrated an imbalanced loathing of tax cuts.
Don't look for the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute in this article. Montgomery's story relied entirely on policy analysts who oppose extending federal tax cuts (with the exception of Obama spokesman Jason Furman). She calls them "deficit hawks." They include:
-- "Obama has criticized Bush for his fiscal irresponsibility, and now he's using Bush's baseline as a yardstick by which to measure fiscal responsibility," said Leonard E. Burman, co-director of the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. "Congress hasn't agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts because they don't have the money to pay for it."
-- "It's not unreasonable to say, 'We're inheriting a budget that's going to have substantial deficits into the future'....But after we've been saying, 'Bush has irresponsible policies we can't afford,' he will be asking us to replace them with different policies we can't afford,' " said a Democratic congressional aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity so he could speak candidly.
-- "Leaving some of the tax cuts in place would cost us a small fortune," said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), a member of a group of conservative [!] House Democrats known as the Blue Dogs who have been adamant about following pay-as-you-go rules. "I don't know that any Blue Dog has a good way to pay for that."
Montgomery concluded with two other reliable tax-hike-advocating sources: G. William Hoagland, "former budget adviser" to Republicans, and Robert Bixby of the Concord Coalition.
Perhaps we should recommend closing the deficit a bit by imposing a tax on newsprint paper, just to see how comfortable the Washington Post and other tax-hiking newspapers are with raising taxes on everyone and everything.