Media outlets uncritically repeat McCain's false claim that Obama would raise taxes on 23 million small businesses

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

Washingtonpost.com's The Trail blog, CNN, and CBSNews.com each repeated Sen. John McCain's false claim that "[i]f you are one of the 23 million small business owners in America who files as an individual rate payer, Senator [Barack] Obama is going to raise your tax rates." In fact, Obama has proposed rolling back President Bush's tax cuts only on "people who are making 250,000 dollars a year or more"; according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, only 481,000 small businesses fall into the tax brackets that would be affected by those increases.

On July 7, washingtonpost.com's The Trail, CNN, and CBSNews.com each repeated Sen. John McCain's assertion during a Denver town hall meeting earlier that day that -- "If you are one of the 23 million small business owners in America who files as an individual rate payer, Senator [Barack] Obama is going to raise your tax rates" -- without noting that the claim is false. In fact, Obama has proposed rolling back President Bush's tax cuts only on "people who are making 250,000 dollars a year or more"; according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center's table of 2007 tax returns that reported small-business income, 481,000, not 23 million, of those returns are in the top two income tax brackets -- which include all filers with taxable incomes of more than $250,000.

As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, media outlets similarly uncritically reported McCain's false suggestion in a June 10 speech that Obama would raise taxes on 21.6 million sole proprietorships filing under the individual income taxes.

In his July 7 entry on The Trail blog, Post staff writer Michael D. Shear reported that "McCain's speech seemed to contain more applause lines and sharper jabs at his opponent." Shear then quoted McCain's assertion, "Senator Obama's tax increases will hurt the economy even more, and destroy jobs across this country. ... If you are one of the 23 million small business owners in America who files as an individual rate payer, Senator Obama is going to raise your tax rates."

Likewise, during the July 7 edition of CNN Newsroom, anchor Kyra Phillips noted that "in his speech, McCain also took aim at his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama." Phillips then aired McCain's comment, "Senator Obama's tax increases will hurt the economy even more, and destroy jobs across the country. If you are one of the 23 million small business owners in America who files as an individual rate payer, Senator Obama is going to raise your tax rates."

Further, in a July 7 post on the CBSNews.com blog From the Road, John Bentley wrote: "One of the cornerstones of McCain's plan is investment and tax breaks for small businesses, something he accuses his opponent of opposing." Bentley went on to quote McCain's assertion, "If you are one of the 23 million small business owners in America who files as an individual rate payer, Sen. Obama is going to raise your tax rates."

Neither Shear nor Phillips nor Bentley noted that McCain's claim is false.

From the July 7 post on The Trail:

And McCain's speech seemed to contain more applause lines and sharper jabs at his opponent.

"Senator Obama's tax increases will hurt the economy even more, and destroy jobs across this country," he said. "If you are one of the 23 million small business owners in America who files as an individual rate payer, Senator Obama is going to raise your tax rates."

McCain has also moved to strengthen his organization on the ground in the 50 states, where supporters have been concerned that Sen. Barack Obama is particularly strong.

Over the weekend, Schmidt made veteran GOP operative Mike DuHaime the campaign's political and field director, putting him in charge of the regional campaign managers that had been semi-autonomous until now.

From the 1 p.m. ET hour of the July 7 edition of CNN Newsroom:

PHILLIPS: Now, fixing the economy, it's John McCain's focus as he campaigns today in Colorado. The Republican presidential candidate launched his so-called "Jobs First" program a short time ago in a speech in Denver seen live right here on CNN.

McCain says that his program will focus on small businesses. And in his speech, McCain also took aim at his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama.

McCAIN [video clip]: Senator Obama's tax increases will hurt the economy even more, and destroy jobs across the country. If you are one of the 23 million small business owners in America who files as an individual rate payer, Senator Obama is going to raise your tax rates. If you have an investment for your child's education or own a mutual fund or a stock in a retirement plan, he's going to raise your taxes.

PHILLIPS: Well, McCain's economic plan also includes a promise to balance the federal budget by the end of his first term, if he's elected.

What words pop into your mind when you think of John McCain and Barack Obama? That's a question that pollsters put to 2,000 people. In the Associated Press/Yahoo! News survey, nearly one in five respondents blurted out "old" as their image of McCain, and "outsider" or "change" when it comes to Obama.

From Bentley's July 7 post on From the Road:

One of the cornerstones of McCain's plan is investment and tax breaks for small businesses, something he accuses his opponent of opposing.

"If you are one of the 23 million small business owners in America who files as an individual rate payer, Sen. Obama is going to raise your tax rates. If you have an investment for your child's education or own a mutual fund or a stock in a retirement plan, he is going to raise your taxes. He will raise estate taxes to 45%. I propose to cut them to 15%. His plan will hurt the American worker and family. It will hurt the economy and cost us jobs," McCain will say today, according to excerpts released by the campaign. "At a time of increasing gas and food prices, American families need tax relief and I, not my opponent, will deliver it."

He will also continue to try and distance himself from President Bush, accusing both him and Congress of wasteful spending.

Posted In
Economy, Taxes
Network/Outlet
CNN, CBSNews.com
Show/Publication
Washingtonpost.com
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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