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  • Does ABC News understand how income tax works?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    ABC News reports on "upper-income taxpayers" who are trying to reduce their income so they avoid proposed tax increases on those earning more than $250,000.

    According to ABC, one attorney "plans to cut back on her business to get her annual income under the quarter million mark should the Obama tax plan be passed by Congress and become law." According to the attorney: "We are going to try to figure out how to make our income $249,999.00." ABC also quotes a dentist who is trying to figure out how to reduce her income.

    This is stunningly wrong.

    The ABC article is based on the premise that an individual's entire income is taxed at the same rate. If that were the case, it would be possible for a family earning $249,999 to have a higher after-tax income than a family earning $255,000, because the family earning $249,999 would pay a lower tax rate.

    But that isn't actually how income tax works.

    In reality, a family earning $255,000 will pay the higher tax rate only on its last $5,001 in income; the first $249,999 will continue to be taxed at the old rate. So intentionally lowering your income from $255,000 to $249,999 is counter-productive; it will result in a lower after-tax income.

    The people ABC quoted don't seem to understand that. Worse, ABC doesn't seem to understand it, either.

    UPDATE: Another thing: the last third of the ABC article is devoted to the question -- posed in large, bold text -- "Does Obama Tax Plan Promote Class Warfare?" I addressed the media's absurd and one-sided use of the loaded term "class warfare" in my column last week.

    UPDATE 2: ABC acknowledges flaws, re-writes article.

    From ABC News:

    President Barack Obama's tax proposal -- which promises to increase taxes for those families with incomes of $250,000 or more -- has some Americans brainstorming ways to decrease their pay, even if it's just by a dollar.

    A 63-year-old attorney based in Lafayette, La., who asked not to be named, told ABCNews.com that she plans to cut back on her business to get her annual income under the quarter million mark should the Obama tax plan be passed by Congress and become law.

    So far, Obama's tax plan is being looked at skeptically by both Democrats and Republicans and therefore may not pass at all.

    "We are going to try to figure out how to make our income $249,999.00," she said.

    ...

    Dr. Sharon Poczatek, who runs her own dental practice in Boulder, Colo., said that she too is trying to figure out ways to get out of paying the taxes proposed in Obama's plan.

    "I've put thought into how to get under $250,000," said Poczatek. "It would mean working fewer days which means having fewer employees, seeing fewer patients and taking time off."

  • Is CNBC now embarrassed by Rick Santelli?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The New York Times today notes that Santelli's appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was yanked, with a CNBC flak telling the Times, "It was time to move on to the next big story."

    As I suggested in my column this week, real damage was done to the cabler by Santelli's on-air rant, his prancing around right-wing radio where he concocted stories, and by CNBC's decision to relentlessly hype Santelli's performance. That a biz reporter would uncork such a partisan outburst on air, crossing all normal bounds of journalism, and then be celebrated, revealed a real deficiency in leadership at CNBC.

    It's nice to see execs there have belatedly caught on to the error of their ways.

    UPDATE: Santelli denies the recent Playboy allegation, suggesting his rant was not spontaneous and that he was in cahoots with anti-Obama biz forces.

  • Jim Cramer, please go away

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Aside from labeling Obama a radical this morning on NBC's Today, Cramer uncorked this beaut:

    "The stock market is the country right now."

    Oh brother. Wasn't that pretty much the CNBC-driven mindset that helped set the table for the current economic calamity? This idea that Wall Street is America. And that Wall Street's (often irrational) needs must be satisfied first and foremost. And that Wall Street's happiness is paramount to every citizen prospering.

    Truth is, citizens are going to spend years bailing out Wall Street and fixing the problems that Cramer's stock market idols helped create. It's probably time for media talking heads to walk away from this very 2004 notion that Wall Street=America.

    UPDATE: And did Cramer really blame Obama's proposed budget for unprecedented "wealth destruction." Sorry, but longtime Wall Street heroes like Bernie Madoff, and Street icons AIG and Citicorp, have probably destroyed more wealth in the last four months than any administration will ever be responsible for.

    Like we said: Jim Cramer, please go away.

  • It's like Rahm Emanuel can see the future, or something

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Emanuel on CBS's Face the Nation re: GOP and Limbaugh:

    Whenever a Republican criticizes him, they have to run back and apologize to him and say they were misunderstood.

    GOP chief Michael Steele on Monday, after calling Limbaugh's show "ugly" over the weekend:

    My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh. I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.

    Question: Why did Politico leave out Rahm's bulls-eye quote when reporting on Steele's bow down to Limbaugh?

  • Revisiting his Limbaugh comments, Steele reportedly says, "There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Politico reports:

    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he has reached out to Rush Limbaugh to tell him he meant no offense when he referred to the popular conservative radio host as an "entertainer" whose show can be "incendiary."

    "My intent was not to go after Rush - I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh," Steele said in a telephone interview. "I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. ... There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership."

    [...]

    Steele, who won a hard-fought chairman's race on Jan. 30, told Politico he telephoned Limbaugh after his show on Monday afternoon and hoped that they would connect soon.

    "I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren't what I was thinking," Steele said. "It was one of those things where I thinking I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people ... want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he's not."

    "I'm not going to engage these guys and sit back and provide them the popcorn for a fight between me and Rush Limbaugh," Steele added. "No such thing is going to happen. ... I wasn't trying to slam him or anything."

    [...]

    In the interview with Politico, Steele called Limbaugh "a very valuable conservative voice for our party."

    "He brings a very important message to the American people to wake up and pay attention to what the administration is doing," Steele said. "Number two, there are those out there who want to look at what he's saying as incendiary and divisive and ugly. That's what I was trying to say. It didn't come out that way. ... He does what he does best, which is provoke: He provokes thought, he provokes the left. And they're clearly the ones who are most excited about him."

    Asked if he planned to apologize, Steele said: "I wasn't trying to offend anybody. So, yeah, if he's offended, I'd say: Look, I'm not in the business of hurting people's feelings here. ... My job is to try to bring us all together."

  • Does Michelle Malkin not understand what "ugly" and "incendiary" mean?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    While offering the RNC chief, Michael Steele, some "friendly advice" (nothing condescending there, right?), Malkin writes:

    There's nothing wrong with criticizing Rush Limbaugh. But if you are going to go on Obamedia outlets like CNN and throw around words like "incendiary" and "ugly," you better back them up.

    Malkin seems to suggest that if he had to, Steele could not back up those adjectives, so it was a mistake for him to use them. We chuckled. Did Malkin really want Steele to add meat to the Limbaugh's "ugly" and "incendiary" bones on live, national TV? Malkin would have preferred it if Steele had detailed Limbaugh's brand of loony hate?

    If anyone's curious about what Steele was referring to in terms of the "ugly" and "incendiary" nature of Limbaugh's show, they can start by clicking here.

  • Flashback to 2007: Possible Senate challenger Kudlow accused Dodd of "harping about income inequality" during "Bush/Bernanke boom"

    Blog ››› ››› MARCIA KUNTZ

    Amid reports that MSNBC's Larry Kudlow is considering a run against Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, Media Matters for America decided to check out what Kudlow has said about Dodd in the past. We came across this column from 2007, which is interesting for a couple of reasons: Describing a hearing in which Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testified about the then-strong economy, Kudlow accuses Dodd of "harping about income inequality and wage stagnation, trying to change the subject from the excellent economic news and pave the way for a tax hike on the top, most successful American earners."

    So, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, testifying before Congress, officially threw in with Goldilocks - moderate growth, declining inflation.

    The stock market loved it, up 100 points. Stocks soared in all sectors and around the world.

    Strong business, rising exports to the rest of the world, healthy consumers, low unemployment, wages on their best run in years - these were Bernanke's key bullet points.

    Senate Democrats like Christopher Dodd and Chuck Schumer kept harping about income inequality and wage stagnation, trying to change the subject from the excellent economic news and pave the way for a tax hike on the top, most successful American earners. But wages are booming. And the rest of the inequality story is so much statistical illusion and faux arithmetic. (Just ask Washington economics scholar Alan Reynolds).

  • Down for the Count: The Real Fight for 2012

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    My latest column is now online. The piece, titled Down for the Count: The Real Fight for 2012, which has already been picked up by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, looks at media coverage of the emerging battle over the 2010 U.S. Census which will have a profound impact in 2012 potentially deciding the control of Congress for years to come. Check it out and be sure to post a comment and let me know what you think.

    Down for the Count: The Real Fight for 2012

    By Karl Frisch

    The fight for 2012 is here. Beltway media insiders rejoice!

    Who's it going to be? Spunky Sarah? Moneyed Mitt? Holy Huckabee? Some dark-horse candidate flying under the radar? One thing is for sure: While the media clamors for every tiny detail in the looming battle for the Republican presidential nomination, the real fight for 2012 is taking place right before their very eyes.

    Continue Reading...

  • Politico, relentlessly out of touch

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Here's how Politico begins an article about the ban on gays serving openly in the military:

    It is precisely the sort of knife fight no president wants to get into, especially in his first 100 days. But it seems that President Barack Obama is about to get dragged down the same dark alley as Bill Clinton when he was forced to confront the highly charged issue of gays in the military early in his term.

    Politico didn't bother including any polling data on public attitudes towards gays serving openly in the military. Maybe that's because the polling undermines the entire premise of the Politico article.

    An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted last July found that 75 percent of Americans favor allowing gays to serve openly in the military - up from just 44 percent in 1993. The poll even found 64 percent of Republicans in favor. 64 percent of conservatives, too - and 59 percent of conservative Republicans.

    And yet, here's Politico insisting - without data - that the issue is dangerous for Obama:

    The issue is risky for Obama, too, political analysts said, threatening to galvanize social conservatives and other political opponents, strain the new president's relations with the military, and force him to squander valuable political capital that is needed on more pressing matters, particularly his economic agenda.

    Another problem: Politico says the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" regulation "allows gays to serve in the military, as long as they don't flout their homosexuality." First, I'm pretty sure they meant "flaunt," not "flout." Second, members of the military need not "flaunt" their homosexuality in order to be discharged under DADT. They need only acknowledge it.

    Politico is developing something of a habit of portraying wildly popular policy positions as out of the mainstream. A few weeks ago, Politico's Glenn Thrush portrayed public funding for contraceptives as part of a "far left agenda," despite the fact that polls show around 80 percent support for such funding.

    If they're going to call themselves Politico and focus on politics rather than policy, is it really asking too much for them to have at least a general sense of where public opinion is on issues before publishing this nonsense?

    UPDATE: Some have questioned whether Thrush personally suggested that funding for contraceptives is a "far left" position, or whether he merely indicated that conservatives would portray it as such. Here's his exact wording; decide for yourself: "Third -- and most dangerous to Pelosi personally -- it undercuts her carefully crafted image as a measured centrist, playing into the right wing caricature of Pelosi as a Bay Area liberal who will abuse her power to push her far left agenda."

  • Frum: Limbaugh "cannot be allowed to be the public face" of conservative movement

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    David Frum writes:

    Rush knows what he is doing. The worse conservatives do, the more important Rush becomes as leader of the ardent remnant. The better conservatives succeed, the more we become a broad national governing coalition, the more Rush will be sidelined.

    But do the rest of us understand what we are doing to ourselves by accepting this leadership? Rush is to the Republicanism of the 2000s what Jesse Jackson was to the Democratic party in the 1980s. He plays an important role in our coalition, and of course he and his supporters have to be treated with respect. But he cannot be allowed to be the public face of the enterprise - and we have to find ways of assuring the public that he is just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important.

    Whenever CNN manages to find two Democrats who disagree about where to go for lunch, it breaks out the "DEMS IN DISARRAY" chyron and goes wall-to-wall with the idea of the Democratic Party in turmoil.

    Just sayin'.