Matthews mischaracterized polls showing people trust Democrats on taxes and claimed "nobody has ever accused the Democrats of tax cutting"

››› ››› KURT DONALDSON

Continuing to mischaracterize polls showing that the public prefers Democrats over Republicans on handling taxes, Chris Matthews acknowledged that "the latest polling shows that people trust Democrats more" on taxes, but still stated that the polls referred to "tax cutting" and suggested that the results were surprising because "nobody has ever accused the Democrats of tax cutting." In fact, the polls asked more broadly about tax policy, not merely "tax cutting," and contrary to Matthews's suggestion that Democrats do not cut taxes, numerous Democrats have enacted or proposed tax cuts in recent years.

While MSNBC host Chris Matthews did not repeat his prior false claim that "people trust Republicans more than Democrats on tax cutting" -- which he stated on the March 13 edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews -- he nonetheless continued to mischaracterize polls showing that the public prefers Democrats over Republicans on handling taxes. On the March 28 edition of Hardball, Matthews acknowledged that "the latest polling shows that people trust Democrats more" on taxes, but he still stated that the polls referred to "tax cutting" and suggested that the results were surprising because "nobody has ever accused the Democrats of tax cutting." In fact, the polls asked more broadly about tax policy, not merely "tax cutting," and contrary to Matthews's suggestion that Democrats do not cut taxes, numerous Democrats have enacted or proposed tax cuts in recent years.

Three recent polls that have asked respondents which party they believe would "do a better job" handling taxes found that the Democrats garnered the most support; and none contained questions presuming that "tax cutting" was the favorable way to handle tax policy. A February 7-8 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll (with a margin of error of +/-3 percent) found that 43 percent of voters believe that Democrats "would do a better job" on the issue of "taxes," compared with 38 percent who think Republicans would do better. In a February 1-5 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 46 percent of respondents said the Democrats "can do a better job" on "taxes," compared with 35 percent who chose Republicans. The margin of error was +/-3 percent. And a January 22-25 Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll with a +/-3-percent margin of error found that 43 percent of Americans believe Democrats would do "a better job of handling taxes" than the president, while 34 percent favored President Bush.

Further, contrary to Matthews's statement that "nobody has ever accused the Democrats of tax cutting," many Democrats have enacted or proposed tax cuts recently. For example, during his run for president, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) proposed making middle class tax cuts permanent, advocated for an education tax credit, a 5-percent reduction in corporate tax rates, and tax credits for health insurance, among others. Other recent examples, according to a February 20 Associated Press article, include Gov. Brad Henry's (D-OK) proposal to cut taxes on retirees, Gov. Bill Richardson's (D-NM) proposed income tax cuts, and Gov. Janet Napolitano's (D-AZ) proposal for $100 million in tax cuts for various programs. A 2003 tax plan proposed by Senate Democrats would have given middle-income taxpayers an average tax cut of $542. In 1996, former President Bill Clinton proposed a budget with "about $100 billion in tax cuts for the middle class" according to a March 20, 1996, New York Times article (subscription required). Clinton's budget included a tuition tax deduction of up to $5,000 per family. In 1997, Clinton also signed The Taxpayer Relief Act, a bill cutting taxes by $152 billion, including a $500-per-child tax credit, a cut in the capital gains tax, and additional tax incentives for education.

From the March 28 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, which included former Clinton administration Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan:

MATTHEWS: Why do you think the president, who has got a -- not a terrible economy, in fact, better than it was -- gets no credit for it in the polling? The Democrats -- do you know that the latest polling shows that people trust Democrats more on tax cutting?

SLATER: Oh, I know, I know.

MATTHEWS: And nobody has ever accused the Democrats of tax cutting.

BUCHANAN: They're going to be fooled on that one.

SLATER: Let me just say: We'll take that. Fiscal discipline. We'll take that.

MATTHEWS: Your party is getting credit for something it's not known to do too often, cut taxes.

Posted In
Economy, Taxes
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
Bill Richardson, Polling, 2008 Elections
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