Sep
28
2012

Romney's Latest Gaffe: Telling the Truth on Taxes

muir-abc-taxes

We're familiar with campaign reports that don't do enough factchecking. But here's a  strange one from ABC World News (9/25/12), which seems to be complaining that Mitt Romney departed from his usual misleading claims about how Obama's been raising your taxes. Pointing this out would be a good thing. The problem is that you have a hard time figuring out what the facts are, because the truth doesn't seem to be the primary concern of the segment. Here's what correspondent David Muir said: MUIR: Today, something from Romney about the President we haven't heard before. Romney has long argued the […]

Sep
05
2012

Dems Didn't Start Social Security — and Other False Factchecks From Factcheck.org

Rep. James Clyburn (SEIU)

Under the headline "Democratic Disinformation From Charlotte," the website Factcheck.org (9/5/12) took aim at this "dubious or misleading claim": Rep. James Clyburn engaged in partisan myth-making when he said “Democrats created Social Security” while Republicans “cursed the darkness.” History records strong bipartisan support in both House and Senate for the measure President Roosevelt signed in 1935. Later, in explaining this judgment, Factcheck wrote: For sure, there was opposition to the legislation. Sen. Daniel Hastings, a Delaware Republican, warned that it would "end the progress of a great country," as the New York Times reported. But Hastings was in the minority, […]

Aug
31
2012

Factchecking the Minnows and Letting the Whales Swim Away

Mitt Romney at the RNC

In an attempted factcheck of Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the Republican convention, AP's Calvin Woodward (8/30/12) takes on Romney's big laugh line: President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet.  My promise is to help you and your family. Woodward looked into it and found that, indeed, Obama had said something like that. But aren't the important factual questions here whether ocean levels actually are rising, and if so whether it's possible to do anything about them? (The answers are "yes" and "yes," as it turns out.) The Washington Post […]

Aug
08
2012

Harry Reid, the New Joe McCarthy

Senator Harry Reid started a whole lot of trouble on the campaign trail when he told some Huffington Post reporters that he'd heard that Mitt Romney paid no taxes. As in zero. For an entire decade. Now there are reasons to be skeptical of Reid's account. As Dana Milbank pointed out, Reid's record does not inspire confidence. He says he got this scoop in a phone call with a Bain Capital investor. There is no other documentation or information to substantiate the allegation. Of course, Romney could settle the issue by releasing his tax returns– which is presumably why Reid […]

Jul
17
2012

David Gregory Makes a Romney Campaign Ad

On Sunday (7/15/12), Meet the Press host David Gregory caught Barack Obama in a big-time flip flop on taxes. At least, that's what he seems to think. Gregory said: What the president would like to do is extend the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $200,000, or $250,000, as a family, and then taxes would go up on people above that. Back in 2010, when this issue first came up, this is what President Obama said back then. And then Gregory played this clip from Obama: I am just listening to the consensus among people who know the […]

Jul
16
2012

Paul Krugman Reads the New York Times

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman writes today (New York Times, 7/16/12) on media's failure to factcheck campaign claims: Perhaps in a better world we could count on the news media to sort through the conflicting claims. In this world, however, most voters get their news from short snippets on TV, which almost never contain substantive policy analysis. The print media do offer analysis pieces–but these pieces, out of a desire to seem "balanced," all too often simply repeat the he-said-she-said of political speeches. Trust me: you will see very few news analyses saying that Mr. Romney proposes huge tax cuts for the rich, […]

Jul
10
2012

NYT: Tax Factchecking Is for the Editorial Page

The New York Times has a piece today (7/10/12) that pairs Obama's tax announcement with Republican attempts to kill Obamacare, presenting both as "politically charged proposals." It's hard to see how the two are at all similar, but the Times attempts to make the connection, noting that "lawmakers worry about alienating people who like expanded health coverage or tax cuts." That actually confuses matters even more. The vast majority of people would get a tax cut under the Obama plan. Repealing Obamacare would do a lot more harm to a lot more people–i.e., the ones "who like expanded health coverage." […]

Jul
06
2012

O'Reilly as Paul Revere: The Disabled Are Coming

Bill O'Reilly complained last night (7/5/12) that there are too many disabled people in America: Twenty years ago in June 1992, there were 3,300,000 Americans receiving federal disability payments. Today, 20 years later, that number is a record 8,733,000 workers on disability. O'Reilly's not buying it for a second: Why has the disability rate increased more than 100 percent? I'll tell you why. It's a con. It's easy to put in a bogus disability claim. And according to O'Reilly, who compares himself to Paul Revere, this is a big sign that that "the country is in steep decline": More than […]

Jul
03
2012

Corporate Media Untells the ALEC Story

Independent media outlets have basically owned the ALEC story over the past few years. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a corporate-sponsored "bill mill" that works with state legislatures to pass the kinds of laws corporations want. Thanks to investigations in Mother Jones, the Nation, Extra! and continued attention from the likes of AlterNet and ThinkProgress, a group that prefers to work in the shadows has been exposed to a harsh spotlight. And the group doing much of the hard work to expose ALEC–the Center for Media & Democracy–has pushed many of the group's corporate backers to bail out. So […]

Jun
07
2012

NYT Tax Talk: What Does 'Politically Sensitive' Mean?

Most people think rich people should pay more in taxes. And they think the government should spend more to help revive the economy. The New York Times knows this—but still calls this discussion "politically sensitive." Today Jonathan Weisman has a piece (6/7/12) about recent comments by Bill Clinton and former Clinton/Obama economic adviser Larry Summers. The piece primarily channels Republican claims that these Democrats want to keep tax rates low for the wealthy. But that does not appear to be what either of them actually said, and both have released statements denying the Republican spin. Nonetheless, the article treats the Republican […]

Apr
16
2012

Pondering Bill Keller's 'Middle'

Nobody loves centrism, writes Bill Keller in the New York Times (4/16/12), but they should. "Centrism is easily mocked and not much fun to defend," writes, noting that critiques of centrism from the left and right have a certain appeal: The politics of the center–including the professional centrists and trans-partisans of groups like Third Way and Americans Elect–do not quicken the pulse. White bread, elevator music, No Labels, meh. So what's to love about white bread? Winning. Elections are, Keller writes, usually decided by voters who are not wedded to either party, who don't stay in any ideological lane. These […]

Apr
12
2012

Buffett Rule Bores, Annoys Washington Post Reporters

The "Buffett rule"–as in Warren Buffett–suggests that super-rich should pay a tax rate comparable to middle-income earners. In Buffett's case, this grew out of his observation that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Seems straightforward enough–and the public thinks so. But the Washington Post seemed to feel otherwise on April 12. A news story by David Fahrenthold kicked off with this observation: The great moral debate of the 2012 campaign is turning out to be as inspiring as drunks arguing over a bar tab. Really? The "debate" he's talking about pits those who believe in raising tax […]

Jan
19
2012

O'Reilly's Comes to Romney's Aid on Taxes–Armed with Inaccuracies

Mitt Romney might need some help defending his considerable wealth or controversial career in private equity. But he doesn't need the kind of help Bill O'Reilly is offering. Mitt Romney's declaration that he pays about a 15 percent tax rate on his income has generated plenty of chatter, in part because it confirms that much of the Republican candidate's yearly income is taxed at a rate appropriate for capital gains and dividend income–much lower than if Romney were actually working for a living. But enter into the picture Fox host Bill O'Reilly, who apparently thought he should rescue Romney by […]