LA Times, AP repeated McCain campaign misinformation about Obama's tax plan

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

The Los Angeles Times reported without challenge Sen. John McCain's claim that Sen. Barack Obama plans to "raise taxes on small businesses." In fact, the number of taxpayers declaring small business income who would see a tax increase in 2009 under Obama's plan is less than two percent, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center. Additionally, the AP reported an RNC spokesman's claim that Obama "will raise taxes," without noting that Obama has proposed raising taxes only on individuals earning more than $200,000 per year and families earning more than $250,000 per year.

In an October 24 Los Angeles Times article, reporters Mark Z. Barabak and Bob Drogin reported without challenge Sen. John McCain's assertion that Sen. Barack Obama plans to "raise taxes on small businesses." In fact, the number of taxpayers declaring small business income who would see a tax increase in 2009 under Obama's plan is less than two percent, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center (TPC).

Obama has proposed raising taxes only on individuals earning more than $200,000 per year and families earning more than $250,000 per year. According to estimates by the TPC, 1.9 percent of tax filers declaring small business income in 2009 will be in the top-two income-tax brackets -- which currently includes all individuals earning more than $160,850 and all families earning more than $195,850. The Times also did not mention that Obama has proposed tax cuts for small businesses, including the "Obama Small Business Health Tax Credit," a "refundable credit of up to 50 percent on premiums paid by small businesses on behalf of their employees."

Additionally, in an October 23 Associated Press article, reporter Mike Baker uncritically quoted Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant's claim that "[i]f Obama wins, he will raise taxes and our economy will go from a yellow to red flag." The article did not point out that Obama has proposed raising taxes only on people making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000, or that he has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income taxpayers. McCain's own chief economic policy adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, has reportedly said it is inaccurate to say that "Barack Obama raises taxes."

A separate October 24 Times article, published on the front page, detailed Obama's tax plans but did not address small businesses specifically:

For individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and couples earning more than $250,000, Obama would raise the top tax rates on income and capital gains by allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire.

He also has suggested raising the Social Security payroll tax on those upper-income people.

But for less affluent workers, Obama offers a variety of tax cuts. Some proposals -- including a $1,000 credit for everyone who is employed -- would benefit people who earn too little to owe income taxes. Under such a "refundable" tax break, people who have no tax liability to reduce would receive a cash rebate.

From Barabak and Drogin's October 24 Los Angeles Times article:

Responding to the latest government jobs report -- showing that 478,000 Americans claimed unemployment benefits last week -- McCain sounded like he was the Democrat bidding to replace the party in the White House.

"Barack Obama's only answer is to double-down on the Bush administration's legacy of out-of-control spending, raise taxes on small businesses, impose mandates on employers and raise trade barriers -- a time-proven recipe for turning tough economic times into terrible economic circumstances," McCain said in a written statement.

Obama campaigned in Indianapolis, where he teed off on remarks McCain made Wednesday expressing regret about U.S. jobs sent overseas but calling it "simple fundamental economics" for companies to seek a lower tax rate wherever they can.

From Baker's October 23 AP article:

"John McClain. John McClain. Excuse me, John McCain. John McCain -- I don't recognize him anymore," Biden said to laughter from several hundred supporters in attendance.

Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant said Biden was being loose with his rhetorical flourishes and offered a different NASCAR analogy: "If Obama wins, he will raise taxes and our economy will go from a yellow to red flag."

Posted In
Economy, Taxes
Network/Outlet
Los Angeles Times, Associated Press
Person
Bob Drogin, Mark Barabak
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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