Vargas reported Bush's claims about tax cuts, omitted critics' views

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

On ABC's World News Tonight, anchor Elizabeth Vargas noted President Bush's claim that dividend and capital gains tax cuts passed in 2003 "have helped expand the economy and create jobs," but she omitted any mention of critics who have challenged the administration's claims that the tax cuts were responsible for the recent economic growth.

On the May 17 broadcast of ABC's World News Tonight, anchor Elizabeth Vargas noted President Bush's claim that dividend and capital gains tax cuts passed in 2003 "have helped expand the economy and create jobs," but she omitted any mention of critics who have challenged the administration's claims that the 2003 tax cuts were responsible for the recent economic growth. For example, as noted by Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum, a March 27 report by the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) concluded that "[a] more comprehensive look at the evidence, however, indicates that, while the dividend and capital gains tax cuts were indeed correlated with the upturn in the recover[y], they were not the cause of the improvement" (italics in original). The report noted that "as of early 2003, various expert observers, including [current] Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal, were predicting that GDP [gross domestic product] and investment growth would accelerate in 2003." The CBPP report also noted that "the [p]resident's own Council of Economic Advisors [CEA] was predicting a significant increase in employment growth starting in 2003, even without additional tax cuts" but that "actual employment at the end of 2005 was significantly below the level CEA predicted it would reach without the tax cuts" (italics in original).

In addition, Vargas failed to mention Democrats' criticism that the tax cut bill disproportionately benefits the wealthy, a claim that, as Media Matters for America has documented, is supported by an estimate of the bill's impact published by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (TPC). By contrast with Vargas's report, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams did note this criticism of the tax cut during his brief report on the May 17 broadcast of the Nightly News:

WILLIAMS: Speaking of the economy, Wall Street's performance came on a day when President Bush signed into law a $70 billion tax cut bill that will extend tax breaks for investors and provide a one-year fix for that alternative minimum tax. The president said tax cuts have spurred economic growth in this country, but the Democrats said the cuts mainly help the very wealthy and have ballooned that federal deficit number.

From the May 17 broadcast of ABC's World News Tonight:

VARGAS: President Bush was bullish on the economy today. He predicted a strong lift from the $70 billion tax cut package he signed into law. He said the cuts, originally passed in 2003, have helped expand the economy and create jobs. The major provisions extend tax breaks on dividends and capital gains for two years, and protect 15 million taxpayers from the alternative minimum tax for one more year.

Posted In
Economy, Taxes
Network/Outlet
ABC
Person
Elizabeth Vargas
Show/Publication
ABC World News Tonight
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