Fox Business host Stuart Varney, also known as Fox's "very clearly partisan" economic analyst, has two major platforms: anything benefitting the rich is good; anything benefitting the poor is bad. Not only does he rail against programs intended to alleviate poverty, he often criticizes the poor themselves, once even going so far as to claim that what poor people really “lack is the richness of spirit.” On yesterday's Fox & Friends, Varney used his regular segment, titled, “Who's Ruining The Economy?” to again attack the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a program designed to raise low-income, working families out of poverty:
VARNEY: OK. You work, you don't pay much in tax, if anything. You don't earn much money. But bingo, you get into this program, and you will get a check from the government early in the year. It's a refund of the tax that you didn't pay in the first place -- 26,800,000 people got those checks last year, averaging $2,240 each. The government shelled out a total of $59-and-a-half-billion to those 26 million people last year. It's free money. Literally pennies from heaven. And now you have the government saying, hey, you may qualify. Come on in. We got a check for you.
Later in the segment, Varney repeated a claim he made previously about the EITC -- that it is “one of the most corrupt systems there is.” As evidence, he claimed that poor people, like those “drug dealing,” could game the system by not declaring the money they make in their income tax.
But, of course, the program doesn't benefit drug dealers; it benefits low-income, working Americans.
The credit rewards gainful employment by offering tax credits on earned income, not money made dealing drugs. It creates an incentive to work, and has been proven to be successful at doing so. Not only does it increase employment, it effectively alleviates poverty. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that in 2010 alone, “the EITC lifted about 6.3 million people out of poverty, including about 3.3 million children. The number of children living in poverty would have been one-quarter higher without the EITC.”
During the segment, Varney also complained about a government program intended to raise awareness of the EITC, claiming: “This is buying votes. This is the government saying you are entitled to this. You don't earn very much money. You are entitled to other people's money in the form of a tax refund. That is buying votes.”
But contrary to the claim that the Obama administration is “buying votes” by raising awareness of the EITC, this type of outreach is nothing new. The EITC outreach campaign website notes that these efforts have been around for “more than 20 years.” This year's outreach campaign marked the “6th Annual EITC Awareness Day,” organized each year by the IRS. In 2007, Rep. Charles Rangel applauded the Bush administration “for its efforts to bring the EITC to the forefront as taxpayers begin filing their tax returns.”