CNN's Dana Bash did not challenge Rep. John Boehner's false suggestion that the health care reform bill being considered by the House contains a tax on all small businesses. Nor did she challenge Boehner's claim that Democrats are proposing to "nationaliz[e] our health care system here."
During the July 27 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash did not challenge House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-OH) false suggestion that the health care reform bill being considered by the House contains a tax on all small businesses, a falsehood advanced by several media outlets. Boehner claimed that the bill would impose "a massive new tax increase in small businesses." In fact, companies with annual payrolls of less than $250,000 would pay no penalty under the House bill for failing to provide health insurance for employees, and only a small percentage of small business owners would be affected by the bill's proposal to levy a surcharge on high-earning individuals.
The House Democrats' bill would establish a 2 percent payroll penalty for employers with combined payroll between $250,000 to $300,000 that don't offer health insurance to employees; a 4 percent penalty for employers with $300,000 to $350,000 in payroll; a 6 percent penalty for employers with $350,000 to $400,000 in payroll; and an 8 percent penalty for companies with annual payrolls exceeding $400,000. Additionally, the bill establishes tax credits for small business employers that do provide health care.
Additionally, the legislation would establish a 1 percent tax on taxpayers filing joint returns if income exceeds $350,000 but not $500,000 per year; a 1.5 percent tax if income exceeds $500,000 but not $1 million per year; and a 5.4 percent tax if income exceeds $1 million per year, with single filers subject to the surtax starting at $280,000 per year. In a July 15 Huffington Post piece, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) stated that, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, this would affect "only 4.1 percent of all small business owners"
Moreover, during her report, Bash allowed Boehner to falsely claim that Democrats are proposing to "nationaliz[e] our health care system here in this country."
From the July 27 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
[begin video clip]
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): I think it's very important to remember that a lot of suburban districts, such as mine, switched and supported both President Obama and Democrats in Congress. And I think it's very important that the message we send to those districts not be a negative one, that we're taking into account their concerns.
BASH: Concerns like tax increases, which Republicans are already stoking with press releases and a media blitz in the works targeting Connolly and other vulnerable Democrats.
BOEHNER: Democrat [sic] leaders are going to walk their members down the plank on nationalizing our health care system here in this country and require them to vote on a massive new tax increase in small businesses.
BASH: Are you worried that if this is done wrong, that this could jeopardize your seat and others like you?
CONNOLLY: Well, I -- when you run for Congress on some of these big issues, you want to make sure you get it right. And that's really where we are right now. We want to make sure we get it right.
[end video clip]
BASH: Much to the chagrin of the White House and Democratic leaders, that's something we're hearing more and more from rank-and-file Democrats. And there is also concern that they don't really know what's in the Democratic leaders' plan. It's over a thousand pages, and that is why we are down here, because we are waiting for a meeting where House Democratic leaders are going to try to educate and persuade their rank-and-file Democrats to go along with their bill.