Fox & Friends marked Tax Day by repeatedly complaining that the wealthy pay a significant portion of federal income taxes, while claiming that President Obama's deficit reduction plan amounts to "soak[ing] the rich." Fox & Friends also ignored proposed spending cuts to suggest Obama's deficit plan only consists of tax increases.
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Fox & Friends Claims Obama's Deficit Plan Is "Soak[ing] The Rich"
Doocy Calls Obama's Deficit Reduction Tour The "Soak The Rich Tour." On the April 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy reacted to reports that Obama will travel to Nevada and California to promote his deficit reduction plan by claiming, "Rather than the deficit reduction tour, call it the 'Soak the Rich Tour.' " [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/11]
Doocy: Geithner Opposing Tax Breaks For Rich "Sounds Like Class Warfare." Later on Fox & Friends, Doocy played a partial clip of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's recent appearance on ABC's This Week in which Geithner expressed support for ending tax breaks on the rich. After playing the clip, Doocy responded by saying Geithner's comments "sound like class warfare." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/11]
Doocy Summarizes Obama's Deficit Plan As "Soak[ing] The Rich." Later on Fox & Friends, during an interview with Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Doocy played a clip of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) opposing any tax increases and asked McDermott: "I think you would like to say that you would like to expand job growth as well, but do you think that one good way to close a budget gap is to, you know, soak the rich?" Doocy also claimed Obama "would be going after ... the rich, the most successful people in the country." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/11]
Fox & Friends Also Complains That "Half The Country" Doesn't "Pay" Federal Income Taxes
Kilmeade: "Maybe The Problem Is Half The Country" Doesn't "Pay Anything." On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said: "If you look at the president's speech last night, you would think the only problem with revenue is that the fortunate ones, those people who inherited the money or just got really lucky, they're not paying enough. Maybe the problem is that half the country doesn't pay enough. [Doesn't] pay anything." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/11]
Carlson: "The President Is Talking About Taxing The Rich Again. Meantime, Nearly Half Of All Americans Won't Pay Any Taxes At All." Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson teased a segment by claiming: "Today is Tax Day, and the president is talking about taxing the rich again. Meantime, nearly half of all Americans won't pay any taxes at all. At least on the federal level." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/11]
But While Nearly Half Of U.S. Households Pay No Federal Income Taxes, "[V]ast Majority" Pay Other Taxes
AP: "[V]ast Majority Of People Who Escape Federal Income Taxes Still Pay Other Taxes." In an April 7, 2010, article, The Associated Press cited a Tax Policy Center (TPC) statistic finding that "47 percent of tax units [owed] no income tax in 2009," but went on to note: "The vast majority of people who escape federal income taxes still pay other taxes, including federal payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, and excise taxes on gasoline, aviation, alcohol and cigarettes. Many also pay state or local taxes on sales, income and property." [Tax Policy Center, 6/29/09; The Associated Press, 4/7/10]
TPC: In 2006, Married Couples At Poverty Level Paid 7.7 Percent Of Wages In Payroll Taxes. According to the TPC, married couples at the poverty threshold paid an average 7.7 percent of their wages in payroll taxes in 2006. [Tax Policy Center, accessed 4/12/11]
Fox & Friends Falsely Claims Obama Plans To Cut Deficit Only Through Tax Increases
Varney Falsely Claimed Geithner "Is Saying ... All You Got To Do Is Tax The Rich" To Solve Deficit Problem. On Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed of Geithner's This Week appearance: "Geithner is saying, look, you can have it all. All you got to do is tax the rich." Varney claimed that to eliminate the deficit only through tax increases on the rich, "you've got to tax the rich at 88 percent," which shows that "Treasury Secretary Geithner's math simply does not add up." Varney later claimed that, on his deficit reduction tour, Obama "can tell [middle class households] you can have everything you ever wanted, and the other half will pay for it. Maybe that's good politics, but it's lousy economics." During the segment, the following on-screen text aired:
[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/11]
In Fact, Obama Deficit Plan Combines Spending Cuts With Tax Increases On Wealthy
Obama Proposes Spending Cuts In Fiscal Policy Address. In his April 13 address on fiscal policy, Obama proposed increasing tax rates on the wealthy, while cutting spending. From Obama's April 13 address:
The first step in our approach is to keep annual domestic spending low by building on the savings that both parties agreed to last week. That step alone will save us about $750 billion over 12 years. We will make the tough cuts necessary to achieve these savings, including in programs that I care deeply about, but I will not sacrifice the core investments that we need to grow and create jobs. We will invest in medical research. We will invest in clean energy technology. We will invest in new roads and airports and broadband access. We will invest in education. We will invest in job training. We will do what we need to do to compete, and we will win the future.
The second step in our approach is to find additional savings in our defense budget. Now, as Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than protecting our national security, and I will never accept cuts that compromise our ability to defend our homeland or America's interests around the world. But as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, has said, the greatest long-term threat to America's national security is America's debt. So just as we must find more savings in domestic programs, we must do the same in defense. And we can do that while still keeping ourselves safe.
Over the last two years, Secretary Bob Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending. I believe we can do that again. We need to not only eliminate waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness, but we're going to have to conduct a fundamental review of America's missions, capabilities, and our role in a changing world. I intend to work with Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs on this review, and I will make specific decisions about spending after it's complete.
The third step in our approach is to further reduce health care spending in our budget. Now, here, the difference with the House Republican plan could not be clearer. Their plan essentially lowers the government's health care bills by asking seniors and poor families to pay them instead. Our approach lowers the government's health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself.
Already, the reforms we passed in the health care law will reduce our deficit by $1 trillion. My approach would build on these reforms. We will reduce wasteful subsidies and erroneous payments. We will cut spending on prescription drugs by using Medicare's purchasing power to drive greater efficiency and speed generic brands of medicine onto the market. We will work with governors of both parties to demand more efficiency and accountability from Medicaid. [White House, 4/13/11]
Washington Post: Obama's Plan "Combine[s] Deep Cuts ... With Higher Taxes On The Wealthy." In an April 13 article, The Washington Post reported that Obama "offer[ed] a plan to trim borrowing by $4 trillion over the next 12 years by combining deep cuts in military and domestic spending with higher taxes on the wealthy." [Washington Post, 4/13/11]
Indeed, On This Week, Geithner Advocated "Spending Savings" In Addition To Ending Tax Breaks. In the full interview on ABC's This Week, Geithner advocated a "balanced way" of reducing the deficit, including "spending savings." From This Week:
GEITHNER: But I think, you know, Chairman Ryan's budget helps explain why this is going to be essential, because if you want to extend these tax breaks for the top 2 percent, then either you have to ask me to go out and borrow trillions of dollars from the Chinese or from foreign investors or from Americans, from our children, or you have to cut -- as he proposes to do -- very, very deeply into basic benefits for seniors, the disabled, the poor. And we don't need to do that in order to restore balance for our fiscal position.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR (host): Will raising taxes on the wealthy be enough to really make a dent in the deficit? Many economists are saying that you're going to have raise taxes on the middle class as well.
GEITHNER: Yes, very important question, and I'm glad you raised it.
And think about it this way. If you -- it's true we have to bring these deficits down, but if you do it in a balanced way, that includes spending savings, reforms to health care and tax reform, then you can do it in a way that has acceptable costs for the economy, preserves our capacity to invest, and doesn't add to the burden of the middle class.
And the reason why that's true is because a -- we have a huge amount of spending in the tax code, special tax breaks that go disproportionately to the most fortunate Americans.
So it is possible to do this, the president believes we can do this, I believe we can do this, without adding to the burden on the middle class. [ABC, This Week, 4/17/11, emphasis added]