For Fox, Raising Taxes On Rich Is Class Warfare, Raising Them On The Poor Is Good Sense

As part of the network's ongoing attempt to defend the richest Americans from paying even a penny more in taxes, Fox personalities have described Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) proposed surtax on the rich as “class warfare.” At the same time, Fox is hyping Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan, which would raise taxes on poor and middle-income families.

Fox Attacks Proposed Surtax On Millionaires As “Class Warfare”

Bolling: Possible Millionaire Surtax Is “More Class Warfare Is What It Is.” From the October 5 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

BILL HEMMER (co-host): Meanwhile, some Republican lawmakers have already said that President Obama's jobs plan is dead on arrival. But now it looks like Democrats may be having some reservations about how it will be paid for. New reports suggest that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid now proposing a millionaires surtax. Details a bit scarce, but some say even with Reid's tax the president's may be doomed to fail. Eric Bolling is host of Follow the Money on the Fox Business Network, co-co-co-co-co-host of The Five. What's Reid's idea here that popped out late last night?

ERIC BOLLING (Fox Business host): Well, we don't know. He proposed it behind closed doors. It may be released today, but the leak is that anyone earning over a million dollars a year will get a 5 percent sur -- he calls it a surcharge, it's really an additional tax to kind of pay for that jobs bill. Now remember, Bill, the jobs bill -- $447 billion -- two ideas have been floated on how to pay for it. Number one: send it over to the supercommittee who's already charged with finding a trillion and a half -- just make it $2 trillion now going forward. That didn't go over so well, so they said what about closing loopholes, which is another word for increasing taxes on couples making over $200,000 a year and oil companies. Well, that didn't go over to well, because Senate Democrats who are in oil states said, “I don't like that one either.” So now Harry Reid -- I guess on the advice of Chuck Schumer because he floated this idea vocally a couple of weeks ago -- I guess they got together and probably came up with this idea. Hey, forget the 200 grand, forget the oil companies, let's just tax millionaires or people making over a million bucks. It's more class warfare is what it is.

HEMMER: Well to be clear -- from what I understood earlier the bill was going to pay for itself by eliminating what the deductions you could take if you made more than $200,000 a year?

BOLLING: Yeah, that's what they said. They said they were going to close loopholes on couples making over 200 grand a year plus close loopholes on oil companies. But again, so you can call it what you want, but at the end of the day it has to get the Senate Democrats to vote for it. If they don't get the 60 votes in the Senate they're not going to get it. That's why Mitch McConnell -- you talked about this a little while ago -- said, “Hurry up. Mr. Obama, you're in such a rush to pass this bill let's go take a vote in the Senate,” knowing very well he didn't have the 60 votes. So they're trying anything to find a way to get 60 Senate Democrats to say yes. By the way, then it's got to go over to the House where the Republicans hold the gavel there, so it may not even pass the House after it passes the Senate. So a lot of wrangling going back and forth. The bottom line is the Democrats want to -- yes, they want to spend a lot of money, they want to spend 447 billion bucks, but the way they want to pay for it again and again and again is a class warfare, tax people who create jobs, frankly who create the jobs, tax them more. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 10/5/11]

Payne: A Surtax On Those Making $1 Million A Year Would Be “Class Warfare.” From the October 5 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:

JENNA LEE (co-host): Let me ask you about a report -- now we're getting some more information out of Washington, D.C. that Harry Reid would like to put a five percent surtax on millionaires to help pay for the jobs plan that the president is putting forward. We're going to hear more details about that throughout the day today. Just your gut reaction to something like that.

CHARLES PAYNE (Fox Business contributor): Well I think it's a horrendous notion. I think it's bad in two ways. First of all, economically it's a bad idea. You know, someone making $1.2 million -- they're not a silver spoon person; they're someone who worked really hard, probably a couple who worked really hard, and they probably have coattails. They probably own a business. I found it interesting two weeks ago when the president said he would be proud to be called a class warfare person if a plumber and a teacher were taxed like -- if a billionaire was taxed like a plumber and a teacher. Well let's take New Jersey. A successful plumber with maybe 2 or 3 assistants, and a school teacher, they may have an income over $250,000. Those are the exact people the president's going after. These are the people that he's been demonizing. So I think Harry Reid is going to have to compromise, because you can't get a lot of senators in some of the wealthier states to go along with the 250,000 that the president really wants. So again, we don't have the details, but I wouldn't be surprised if they went with the 5 percent surcharge if they took out the 250,000. That's absolutely absurd. Even the one million to be quite frank with you is class warfare; it's not economic, but it might be one of these things that say, hey you don't have a job because somehow this person is successful. [Fox News, Happening Now, 10/5/11]

Gutfeld: The Surtax On Millionaires Has To Be Called “The Envy Tax” Because It “Makes People Feel Good About Punishing The Rich.” From the October 5 edition of Fox News' The Five:

DANA PERINO (co-host): One of the things that happened today that Bob just referenced is that because Harry Reid, Senator Reid does not have the votes because of his Democrats not supporting President Obama's bill, he came up with something new today, which is a way to sweeten the situation so that -- well I don't know if -- whether his strategy is to tax 5 percent more on millionaires, so that more people will vote against it and then vote against the jobs bill because that will make it more reasonable. I don't understand the strategy, but let's listen to Harry Reid try to explain it.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV) (video clip): Independents, Democrats, and Republicans, and even the tea party agree it's time for millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes. More than 50 percent of the tea party, and about 75 percent of other people in America agree that we need to do something about this. So we're going to propose to pay for this important jobs legislation by asking people who make more than a million dollars a year to pay 5 percent more to fund jobs creation and ensure this country's economic success.

GREG GUTFELD (co-host): I would like him to read a bedtime story to me. It would be so soothing. Don't you --

PERINO: Well he is not going to win any oratory awards.

BOB BECKEL (co-host): But he is going to be able to open up a funeral parlor when he gets back there.

PERINO: Well interestingly what -- I looked -- that poll sounded a little strange to me when he said that independents and tea partiers agree with this. And it's from the Daily Kos. What do you think of that?

GUTFELD: That explains why tea partiers are for a surtax on millionaires. Here, if they have this tax they have to call it the envy tax, because it has no productive value whatsoever other than to make people feel good about punishing the rich. It does not help the economy. It doesn't stimulate the economy. [Fox News, The Five, 10/5/11]

Tantaros On Fox & Friends: Surtax Shows The White House's Message Is “Coddle The Jobless And Punish The Rich.” From the October 6 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (co-host): President Obama claims his political -- claims political hypocrisy is preventing his jobs bill from being passed in Washington. He even called out Republican leaders by name.

PRESIDENT OBAMA (video clip): Yesterday, the Republican majority leader in Congress, Eric Cantor said that right now, he won't even let this jobs bill have a vote in the House of Representatives. That's what he said. Won't even -- won't even let it be debated. Won't even give a chance to be debated on the floor of the House of Representatives. Think about that. I mean, what's the problem? Do they not have the time? They just had a week off. Is it inconvenient?

DOOCY: But is he the one being hypocritical since the Democratic majority leader Harry Reid says he doesn't have the votes to pass it. Let's talk to Andrea Tantaros and Juan Williams, both Fox News contributors and co-hosts of The Five right here on Fox News Channel. Good morning to both of you.

ANDREA TANTAROS (Fox News contributor): Good morning.

JUAN WILLIAMS (Fox News contributor): Good morning Steve.

DOOCY: OK, Andrea, let's start with you. There you saw the president he said “why aren't they voting on this?” While he was talking, Mitch McConnell on the floor of the Senate said “you know what? The president's right. Let's go ahead and give him a vote.” So he said “let's vote on it, Harry Reid” and Harry goes “humina humina humina. This is a stunt. We're going to do it later.” And then he tacked on a 5 percent surtax on millionaires. Democrats didn't have the votes for this.

TANTAROS: Nope, they didn't and that's why Harry Reid had to add some liberal sweeteners like the millionaires tax. Look, Mitch McConnell completely called the president's bluff. The only thing stopping this bill from coming to a vote are the Democrats. It's Obama's own party. They're running away from this bill just like they've run away from the stimulus, just like they've run away from Obamacare, just like they've run away from Dodd-Frank. You notice that, Steve? No one ever talks about any of those wonderful Democratic accomplishments. So look, I want to know what the message is, though, coming from the White House. Is it punish the rich, and reward these Wall Street protesters? I think that's what they're saying. Let's coddle the jobless and punish the rich. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/6/11]

At The Same Time, Fox Promotes Cain's 9-9-9 Plan That Raises Taxes On The Poor

Fox Personalities Have Hyped Cain's 9-9-9 Plan. Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy has said that Herman Cain is “attractive” to voters because his 9-9-9 tax plan is “so simple to understand.” His colleague, Gretchen Carlson, proclaimed that “voters love, love, love” the 9-9-9 plan. And regular Fox News guest Neal Bortz claimed that low income workers are “probably still coming out ahead of the game” under Cain's plan. [Media Matters, 9/28/11, 9/28/11, 9/26/11]

Tax Expert Kleinbard: Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan Would Lead To “A Huge Tax Hike For The Working Poor.” A Bloomberg article reported that Edward Kleinbard, former chief of staff to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation and professor at USC, said Cain's 9-9-9 plan would create “a huge tax hike for the working poor.” From Bloomberg:

Kleinbard said the bottom-line effect of Cain's proposal would be a greater shift of the tax burden to individuals from corporations and investors. He said eliminating the deductibility of wages would raise the cost of labor, which businesses would pass on to workers in the form of lower pay.

That, combined with no mention of the standard deduction, personal exemption or earned-income tax credit, “means a huge tax hike for the working poor,” he said. [Bloomberg, 10/5/11]

EPI President Mishel Says Plan Would “Disproportionately Tax Lower And Middle Income Earners.” A September 27 post on the ABC News blog The Note quoted Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, as saying that Cain's 9-9-9 plan would disproportionately tax lower and middle income earners. The post also noted that the plan's provision of cutting capital gains taxes would “allow 23,000 millionaires to pay no income taxes.” From the post:

Lawrence Mishel , president of the center-left Economic Policy Institute, took issue with Cain's plan, saying it would disproportionately tax lower and middle income earners because they tend to spend a higher percentage of their incomes than wealthy people. And with a national sales tax, the more you buy, the more taxes you pay.


While a formal number crunch has yet to be completed, some economists are already crying foul over whether the 9-9-9 plan can bring in as much revenue as the current tax system.

“The first thing I think is show me the money,” said Joel Slemrod, an economics professor at the University of Michigan. “I want to know whether it adds up and I suspect it doesn't.”

The 9-9-9 plan eliminates the payroll tax and estate tax, which brought in a combined $883 billion in 2010, or about 41 percent of the $2.16 trillion collected by the federal government last year. Cain's proposal also wipes out taxes on capital gains and repatriated corporate profits.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that cutting capital gains taxes alone would allow 23,000 millionaires to pay no income taxes, a move that would add $11 billion to the deficit each year. Cain's fellow GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman also support eliminating the capital gains tax. [, 9/27/11]

PolitiFact: Cain's Tax Plan Would Make “Some Poorer Americans Pay More Into The System.” In an article published on PolitiFact on September 26, PolitiFact writer and St. Petersburg Times editor Aaron Sharockman wrote that “the flat income tax and the elimination of payroll taxes would result in shifting some of America's tax burden, making some poorer Americans pay more into the system while many middle- and upper-class Americans would pay less.” From Sharockman's article:

Herman Cain stunned the Republican political establishment on Sept. 24, 2011, easily winning Florida's Presidency 5 straw poll by trumpeting a platform of specific tax reforms he calls the “9-9-9 Plan.” The plan would eliminate the current tax system all together, replacing it with a 9 percent personal income tax, a 9 percent corporate income tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.


Cain has yet to detail hyper-specific points about the 9-9-9 Plan, but we have a good idea of how it would generally function.

The 9 percent income tax

The centerpiece of the 9-9-9 Plan is to eliminate the current, complicated income tax system -- with its series of tax credits and deductions and its variety of tax rates based on income -- and to replace it with a flat income tax. Cain's flat 9 percent income tax also would replace payroll taxes, which all workers pay and that fund Medicare and Social Security, and would end the estate tax, which is a tax on inheritances. Currently, about 49.5 percent of all tax filers pay no income tax at all, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, a respected bipartisan committee of Congress. Cain's income tax would be collected equally for workers with two exceptions -- taxpayers could claim a deduction for charitable contributions (we haven't heard him discuss a limit) and taxpayers could earn a type of tax credit for living in an “empowerment zone,” which Cain has described as inner cities needing revitalization. While the result of this part of Cain's plan would affect taxpayers differently, the flat income tax and the elimination of payroll taxes would result in shifting some of America's tax burden, making some poorer Americans pay more into the system while many middle- and upper-class Americans would pay less. [PolitiFact, 9/26/11, emphasis original]

PolitiFact: “A National Sales Tax” Like Cain's “Would Raise the Relative Tax Burden On Low- And Middle-Income [Earners].” Sharockman also noted in his article, “Most economists agree that a national sales tax would raise the relative tax burden on low- and middle-income earning taxpayers.” From his PolitiFact article:

Cain's national sales tax, in effect, would attempt to make up for the reduction of federal revenue by creating the 9 percent income tax. The national sales tax, which would help fund the federal government, would be on top of state and local sales taxes, which fund state and local government. In Florida, that would create a hypothetical tax rate of 15 percent in most parts of the state. In the Wall Street Journal, Cain said the national sales tax would be levied “on all new goods.” (A good question to ask would be whether services are exempted.) Most economists agree that a national sales tax would raise the relative tax burden on low- and middle-income earning taxpayers. “The main reason is that low- and middle-income households consume more of their income than high-income households do,” said William Gale, senior fellow for economic studies at the Brookings Institution. “Another way of saying that is high-income households save more of their income than low-income households do.” [PolitiFact, 9/26/11]

Fox Has Repeatedly Cried Class Warfare To Defend The Wealthy From Tax Increases While Attacking The Poor

Fox Has Leaped To Label Any Proposal To Increase Taxes On The Rich As “Class Warfare.” Fox personalities have called President Obama's proposal to conform the tax code to the “Buffett rule” so that millionaires don't pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries “class warfare.” Fox has said the same thing about a proposal to end tax breaks for corporate jets and a proposal not to extend the Bush tax cuts on top earners. [Media Matters 9/19/11, 8/4/11, 6/30/11, 9/8/10]

At The Same Time, Fox Cited Ownership Of Appliances To Downplay Hardship Of Poverty In America. In July, Fox News figures cited a Heritage Foundation report about the ownership of appliances among the poor in America to ask, in Bill O'Reilly's words: “So how can you be so poor and have all this stuff?” [Media Matters, 7/22/11]

Fox's Charles Payne Complained That The Poor “Aren't Embarrassed” That They Need Anti-Poverty Programs. Fox Business' Charles Payne complained that people “aren't embarrassed” that they need anti-poverty programs including food stamps and unemployment insurance. [Fox Business,Varney & Co., 5/19/11, via Media Matters]

Fox Business Also Pitted The “Takers” Of “Government Handouts” Against The “Makers.” After a National Bureau of Economic Research study concluded that social safety net programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, were highly effective at keeping people out of poverty, Fox Business launched a weeklong series pitting the “takers” of “government handouts” against the “makers” in the economy. [Media Matters, 5/24/11]

Fox Business Hosts Warned That Increased Use Of Food Stamps During A Recession Could Lead To “Economic Dependence.” Fox Business' John Stossel and Chris Cotter warned that an increase in food stamps usage during the recession could lead to “economic dependence.” [Media Matters, 8/17/11]

Fox's Byrnes: “What's Unfair” About The Tax Code Is The Earned Income Tax Credit. Fox Business' Cheryl Casone suggested that subjecting the poor to heavier taxation was “a way to solve America's debt crisis,” while Fox's Tracy Byrnes said that “what's unfair” about the tax code is the Earned Income Tax Credit for low- and middle-income Americans. [Media Matters, 6/26/10]

Fox's Varney: The Earned Income Tax Credit Is A “Welfare Scheme.” On the June 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney said:

VARNEY: Whenever you've got a cash welfare system you are going to have people gaming that system. What you have not got on the screen is the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is by far the biggest cash -- I'm going to call it a welfare scheme. That is known as the most corrupt government program. That is known as the most corrupt government program. Billions of your dollars going out there when they should not be going out there; same with the Supplemental Security Income program. It really is a scandal. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/15/11]