The New York Times' Adam Nagourney reported that Sen. John McCain will attack Sen. Barack Obama for supporting "tax increases," but Nagourney didn't note that Obama has proposed tax cuts for "working-class voters" and others. Nagourney joins other media outlets that have uncritically reported or failed to challenge assertions by the McCain campaign that Obama plans to raise taxes on all or most Americans.
In a July 7 New York Times article, New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney uncritically reported that Sen. John McCain will attack Sen. Barack Obama for supporting "tax increases" without noting that Obama has proposed tax cuts for "working-class voters" and others. Nagourney also reported that McCain aide Charlie Black "said the campaign was counting more on the contrast with Mr. Obama on tax cuts than on Mr. Obama's problems relating to working-class voters" but did not note that an analysis of the candidates' tax plans by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (TPC) found that "Senator McCain's tax cuts would primarily benefit those with very high incomes," while "Senator Obama offers much larger tax breaks to low- and middle-income taxpayers and would increase taxes on high-income taxpayers."
As Media Matters for America has documented, several media outlets have uncritically reported or failed to challenge assertions by the McCain campaign that Obama plans to raise taxes on all or most Americans.
According to Obama's "Tax Fairness Plan," "Barack Obama's plan will provide $80-85 billion in tax relief to America's workers, seniors, and homeowners." Obama's proposed tax cuts include "a new 'Making Work Pay' tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family," a "universal mortgage credit" which "will provide the average recipient with approximately $500 per year in tax savings," and the "eliminat[ion]" of "all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year."
The two candidates' plans would have sharply different distributional effects. Senator McCain's tax cuts would primarily benefit those with very high incomes, almost all of whom would receive large tax cuts that would, on average, raise their after-tax incomes by more than twice the average for all households. Many fewer households at the bottom of the income distribution would get tax cuts and those whose taxes fall would, on average, see their after-tax income rise much less. In marked contrast, Senator Obama offers much larger tax breaks to low- and middle-income taxpayers and would increase taxes on high-income taxpayers. The largest tax cuts, as a share of income, would go to those at the bottom of the income distribution, while taxpayers with the highest income would see their taxes rise.
The group also found:
The Obama tax plan would make the tax system significantly more progressive by providing large tax breaks to those at the bottom of the income scale and raising taxes significantly on upper-income earners. The McCain tax plan would make the tax system more regressive, even compared with a system in which the 2001-06 tax cuts are made permanent. It would do so by providing relatively little tax relief to those at the bottom of the income scale while providing huge tax cuts to households at the very top of the income distribution.
The Tax Policy Center analysis also included the following graph of the average percentage change in after-tax income for 2009 under the McCain and Obama plans:
From Nagourney's July 7 article:
Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, has been shadowed by his statements earlier in the campaign that he is not expert in the subject of the economy and by the likelihood that voters will associate him with the economic policies of the Bush administration. He has embraced President Bush's stands on central issues like tax cuts and trade policy.
Mr. Obama, Democrat of Illinois, has had difficulty connecting with working-class voters, and his more ambitious responses to economic problems like expanding access to health insurance would be paid for in part by tax increases, always a risky proposition.
It appears likely that activity on both sides will involve appearances notable more for their political symbolism -- and attacks against the other side -- than any attempt to come up with ideas for dealing with the problems. Mr. McCain will probably continue to attack Mr. Obama for supporting tax increases, and Mr. Obama is likely to portray Mr. McCain's views as an extension of Mr. Bush's economic policies.
Mr. McCain is set to announce on Monday morning that 300 economists are endorsing his economic proposals, which include tax cuts, expanded trade and a pledge to veto bills with earmarks. His aides said the endorsements, mostly by conservative economists, would help him establish his credentials in this area. Mr. McCain will spend the week talking about job creation in hard-pressed battleground states, a contrast with his decision to spend last week in Latin America, a move that even some of his allies said risked having him seem unconcerned with the problems at home.
Mr. McCain's aides said he would talk this week with voters, often in intimate settings, about their economic problems, in the hope of coming off as more empathetic than Mr. Obama. He will attack Mr. Obama over his support for raising taxes and his opposition to lifting the ban on offshore oil drilling and suspending the gasoline tax for the summer, positions also highlighted in an advertisement by the Republican National Committee that began being shown on Sunday in closely contested states.
Mr. McCain has repeatedly argued that raising taxes in a weak economy would have disastrous consequences and asserted that his plan for long-term tax cuts -- the centerpiece of his economic program -- would solve the short-term economic problems.
But, Mr. McCain's aides said, he will not offer any significant new economic programs or ideas. Mr. Black said the campaign was counting more on the contrast with Mr. Obama on tax cuts than on Mr. Obama's problems relating to working-class voters.