Boston Globe uncritically reported McCain falsehood on Obama's health care proposal

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

The Boston Globe uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's false claim that Sen. Barack Obama proposes to "fine" small businesses that do not provide employee health insurance. While Obama has proposed requiring large businesses that do not provide employer-sponsored health coverage to pay a percentage of their payroll into a National Health Insurance Exchange to help Americans purchase private health insurance, small businesses would be exempt.

In an October 28 article, The Boston Globe uncritically reported that during an October 27 speech in Cleveland, Ohio, Sen. John McCain "articulated in his most dire terms yet what has become the dominant theme of his campaign in the last two weeks: that Obama's plans to raise income taxes and fine companies that do not provide employee health insurance would be obstacles to small-business growth, and kill jobs just when new ones are needed most." But the claim -- which McCain has made repeatedly -- that Obama would "fine" small businesses if they did not provide employee health insurance is false. While Obama has proposed requiring large businesses that do not provide employer-sponsored health coverage to pay a percentage of their payroll into a National Health Insurance Exchange to help Americans purchase private health insurance, small businesses would be exempt.

Additionally, in reporting McCain's claim that Obama's "plans to raise income taxes" would be an "obstacle to small-business growth," the Globe did not note that less than 2 percent of taxpayers declaring small-business income would see a tax increase in 2009 under Obama's plan, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center (TPC).

Similarly, an October 28 Bloomberg News article uncritically reported McCain's assertion during the speech that Obama's "plan to raise taxes on small businesses, to impose insurance mandates on families and small businesses will cut jobs."

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. Bloomberg and the Globe 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."

Regarding Obama's health care plan, during the October 15 presidential debate, after McCain stated, "Now, Senator Obama, I'd like -- still like to know what that fine is going to be" on small businesses who do not provide health insurance to their employees, Obama responded, "Zero, because as I said in our last debate and I'll repeat, John, I exempt small businesses from the requirement for large businesses that can afford to provide health care to their employees, but are not doing it."

From the Bloomberg News article:

McCain, speaking earlier and just sixty miles away, told supporters in Cleveland that Obama would stifle growth by raising taxes and spending.

"The difference between myself and Senator Obama is our plan will create new jobs; his plan to raise taxes on small businesses, to impose insurance mandates on families and small businesses will cut jobs,'' McCain said.

Obama would "radically increase spending and then raise taxes to pay for it,'' he said.

From the Globe article:

"We both disagree with President Bush on economic policy," McCain said. "The difference is that he thinks taxes have been too low, and I think that spending has been too high."

The remarks inaugurated a final phase in the campaign in which advisers said McCain - implicitly acknowledging that Democrats are likely to strengthen their hold on both chambers of Congress - would offer himself up as a bulwark against the hazards of single-party dominance of the legislative and executive branches.

"We're going to take a beating in the House and Senate. We're big boys and girls and frankly we deserve it," said Michael Steele, the chairman of GOPAC, a conservative group, and one of those who appeared with McCain yesterday.

"The last two or three years, the American people have gotten into a comfort zone of having divided government," he said. "It's part and parcel of this campaign: Tell voters what the consequences are."

Delivered with little advance warning to the media as Obama prepared to present his own "closing argument" at his own event 60 miles away, McCain's address offered no new policy details or prescriptions. Instead, McCain articulated in his most dire terms yet what has become the dominant theme of his campaign in the last two weeks: that Obama's plans to raise income taxes and fine companies that do not provide employee health insurance would be obstacles to small-business growth, and kill jobs just when new ones are needed most. "It's a difference of millions of jobs in America, and Americans are beginning to figure that out," he said. "With one week left in this campaign, the choice facing Americans is stark."

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
Boston Globe, Bloomberg
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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