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  • Newsweek peddles GOP talking points

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The latest: Some Republicans wanted to support Obama's stimulus package--no, really--it's just that Nancy Pelosi ruined everything. See, it's Pelosi, not Republicans, who completely scuttled Obama's hope for bipartisanship.

    Newsweek headlines it this way;

    Obama's Pelosi Problem: The president has laid out a paradigm-shifting agenda. There will be pushback from the GOP—but less, perhaps, were it not for the House Speaker.

    I doubt RNC aides could have written it better themselves.

  • 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).