Newsweek has corrected George Will's false assertion in his Newsweek column that Social Security taxes are levied based on household income. Will made the same assertion on ABC's This Week, but ABC has yet to issue a correction on the show.
More than four weeks after ABC News commentator George Will, in criticizing Sen. Barack Obama, falsely asserted on the network's This Week that Social Security taxes are levied based on household income, ABC has yet to issue a correction on the Sunday morning show, even though Will has appeared on three broadcasts since making the false statement.
As Media Matters for America noted, on the April 20 edition of This Week, Will -- an ABC News commentator and regular panelist on the program -- said of Obama: "[O]n raising Social Security taxes -- or the body of income susceptible to the 12.4 percent rate -- he clearly says he's considering raising taxes on those making more than $103,000, much less ... than what he had at $200,000." Will later falsely asserted of Obama: "[W]hat we heard this week from the probable Democratic nominee is that he wants to raise taxes on a lot of people, beginning with those earning about $100,000 a year, a household" [emphasis added]. He added: "That's a Chicago cop and a Chicago teacher."
Will made the same false claim in his May 2 Newsweek column, in which he asked Obama: "You favor eliminating the cap on earnings subject to the 12.4 percent Social Security tax, which now covers only the first $102,000. A Chicago police officer married to a Chicago public-school teacher, each with 20 years on the job, have a household income of $147,501, so you would take another $5,642 from them. Are they undertaxed? Are they rich?"
In its May 19 edition, Newsweek issued a correction, noting, as Media Matters also noted, "because the Social Security tax is assessed individually [not on the household, as Will asserted], and the couple each earns less than the current cap, any elimination of that cap will not have an effect on their tax burden."
The Newsweek correction:
CORRECTION (published May 19, 2008): This column originally stated that Obama favors elminating the cap on earnings subject to the 12.4 percent Social Security tax. The tax (currently limited to the first $102,000 at 12.4 percent) of the couple cited in the column's example was assessed on their combined income. But because the Social Security tax is assessed individually, and the couple each earns less than the current cap, any elimination of that cap will not have an effect on their tax burden. NEWSWEEK regrets the error.