Conservative media outlets are characterizing support among Democratic presidential candidates for raising the minimum wage, making college tuition affordable, and reducing income inequality as giving away “free stuff,” ignoring that tax plans favored by the GOP field are tantamount to huge giveaways for the wealthiest Americans.
Democratic Candidates Highlighted Income Inequality, Minimum Wage And College Tuition In First Primary Debate
New York Times: Democratic Candidates Focused On “Financial Reform Efforts.” In their first primary debate on October 13, the five Democratic candidates for president discussed tax proposals and college tuition affordability plans that would help offset income inequality and strengthen the middle class:
"The biggest point of agreement was on income inequality, the central theme of the Sanders campaign and one that has been put on the top of the agenda by the other candidates as well.
There was agreement on the need to raise the minimum wage (Senator Sanders proposes $15 an hour; Mrs. Clinton gave no firm number) and specific views on how to improve financial reform efforts -- break up the big banks or improve the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Regarding unauthorized immigrants, there was agreement that they should be allowed to purchase coverage on the health exchanges, but Mrs. Clinton, unlike the others, did not support giving them government subsidies." [New York Times, 10/14/15]
Conservative Media Attack Democrats For Wanting To Give Away “Freebies”
Fox Business' Stuart Varney: Democratic Candidates' “Freebies” Will Result In “An Even Bigger Deficit.” On the October 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed that Democratic candidates are “promising everything from free health care to free in-state tuition for illegals.” Stuart Varney suggested that “freebies” promised by Democrats could result in “a recession, if not depression” :
STEVE DOOCY: Ok, so with all that free stuff they're giving away, what's it going to cost you, the American taxpayer?
STUART VARNEY: A lot.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK: A long list. Public college, paid family leave, health care, health care for all children, prescription drugs, expanded Social Security, childhood education, higher minimum wage. It goes on and on. You can't even fill the screen with it. I think everyone who is a good person, has an ounce of mercy in them would say we'd love to be able to do this. The problem is, it ends up coming back to bite us if we can't afford it. Is that right?
VARNEY: Absolutely. If you do all of that, all of the above, all of these freebies that you just mentioned, they're going to pay for it by taxing the rich. If do you that, if you take all that money off the rich, you end up with a recession, if not a depression.
HASSELBECK: And who does that hurt?
VARNEY: That hurts everybody. Far fewer jobs and less tax revenue coming in. So you've got an even bigger deficit and even more money to borrow. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/14/15]
Rush Limbaugh: College, Healthcare is “All Yours, All You Have To Do Is Show Up.” On the October 14 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh claimed that the Democratic primary debate proved that all anyone has to do is “show up” to receive “free stuff,” while the cost will be passed on to unaware taxpayers.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: First up is a montage here from the debate last night. You have Bernie Sanders, Hillary, Lincoln Chafee, and they're all talking about all the free stuff, college, healthcare, whatever you want if you're an illegal immigrant, it's all yours, all you have to do is show up.
We're $18 trillion in debt. Now you can afford anything if you ignore that and if you don't think that's a problem and if that number is irrelevant, the money never has to even be serviced or be paid back, then of course you can afford anything. But the truth is we can't afford anything. We can afford maybe what? What's the number that we drag in by tax revenue every year? The numbers are confusing, but 300 billion trillion? Three trillion, whatever we can afford each year? But we so exceed that. We have exceeded it for so long. We are already paying for things we can't afford. And these people just want to lap more and more on top of it. You know one of the biggest misdirections in public dialogue in politics is? The taxpayer's expense, the tax payers don't pay anything. Here's -- the reason is, they are not conscious of it. Everybody's taxes are withheld from paychecks, those who work. Very few people are independent contractors who actually pay their taxes themselves. The vast majority of people never see the money they pay in taxes. Property tax is part of the homeowner's, the mortgage payment every month. Very little tax do you ever see, particularly incoming payroll tax. [Premiere Radio Network, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/14/15]
Sean Hannity: Democratic Debate Was A “Race” To See “Who Was Gonna Give Away The Most Free Stuff.” On the October 14 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity claimed that policies advocated by Democrats during the debate could spell “the end of America as we know it” as a result of “all these free” giveaways.
SEAN HANNITY: The race last night, it was to see who was gonna give away the most free stuff. The only problem is, nothing is ever free. This was like a 1960 hippy reunion redux here, where we live in a colony together in our tent cities, and they didn't even talk about ISIS.
If we are not vigilant as a country, this is the end of America as we know it, it just is. We are now on the path to becoming Greece, all of these great promises free free free free freefree free free free free free free free free free free with $20 trillion in debt, $120 trillion in unfunded liabilities, we'll steal it from the “one percent.” Which would guarantee that the “one percent” is going to hide their money, not invest it, and probably stop building businesses because they can't make money at it any longer. It is going to make America Greece. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 10/14/15]
Lisa Boothe: “Democrats Are Living In La La Land” Because Of Domestic Policy Proposals. On the October 14 edition of Fox News' Your World, Fox regular Lisa Boothe hyped the national debt and claimed Democratic candidates' proposals will hurt “the very families” they are trying to protect.
NEIL CAVUTO: Well, the Republicans also play loosey-goosey with numbers and how they're going to do that but -- go ahead Lisa.
LISA BOOTHE: Real quick. The problem is that when you raise the national debt and when we continue to pile it on to the national debt, what ends up happening is higher interest rates.
CAVUTO: Nomiki [Konst], let me ask you this, Nomiki, when I've had you here as a guest, and you've been criticizing Donald Trump, yeah he's all [inaudible] and big big talk, no specifics and you rightly railed him about lets start seeing specifics. Now you hear these guys last night. [crosstalk] Wait a minute, you hear these guys last night, listen to me, I'll let you talk and make your pointless remarks. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Now, you hear all the sudden all these guys “Well, we're going to have free college roll, well we're going to make sure that everyone is set with fixed price drugs, well we're doing to do this, we're going to do that” -- at any point did you as a young, smart liberal just say, “Uh, I don't think we have enough money for all this?” [Fox News, Your World, 10/14/15]
The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes Alleges Democratic Candidates “Tried To Outdo Each Other in Giving Free Stuff Away.” On the October 14 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Hayes claimed Democrats during the debate attempted to see who could offer the most “free stuff” but never had to answer “a question about how you pay for this” :
STEPHEN HAYES: If you look at the debate last night, the debate was, who can be farther than Barack Obama, who could be further to the left of Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton said repeatedly that she wanted to, she was going to on Keystone [XL], she was going to on free tuition, they were going to give free Obamacare to illegal immigrants. One after the other after the other they tried to outdo each other in giving free stuff away. I thought Anderson Cooper did a good job, but I was a little disappointed that there was never at any point in this entire debate, a question about how you pay for this. Anyone can get up and give a laundry list of things they would like to do, the real question is how you pay for it. That's the hard question, and I think it's a harder question for Democrats. [Fox News, Special Report, 10/14/15]
Bernie Goldberg Claims “Unless Professors Are Working For Free,” There Isn't “Free College Education.” On the October 14 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Goldberg claimed that the “free stuff” promised by Democrats during the debate “make the Occupy Wall Street crowd look like a bunch of right-wing nuts.”
BERNIE GOLDBERG: And finally, there was a lots and lots of talk about big government and “free stuff.” I'm listening to the debate, and I'm thinking these people, these candidates make the Occupy Wall Street crowd look like a bunch of right-wing nuts.
BILL O'REILLY: By the way on the free stuff front, you're not getting any. Free stuff. Ok. I'm not getting any free stuff, alright.
GOLDBERG: We are not getting any, but all this free stuff, free stuff, by the way, a moderator might say, “You know, Mr. Sanders, Bernie Sanders, that isn't free college education. Somebody is paying for it. Unless the professors are working for free and the janitors are working for free.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/14/15]
Republican Candidates' Tax Proposals Amount To Giveaways To The Wealthiest Americans
NY Times: Despite “Populist Talk,” Republican Tax Plans Benefit The Rich. In an October 14 article for The New York Times, CNBC's John Harwood explained that the so-called “populist” tax reform proposals endorsed by most of the Republican presidential candidates are actually giveaways for top income earners. Harwood used estimates from the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation to show that tax plans put out by Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump primarily benefit the wealthy and reflect “a party still wedded to the theories of supply-side economics 35 years after President Reagan championed them under far different circumstances” :
Mr. Rubio, in New York for fund-raising at the time of the interview, offers an example. He proposes a significant new tax credit for households with children. But he would also cut the top federal income tax rate to 35 percent, from nearly 40 percent, and eliminate levies on capital gains, dividends and multimillion-dollar estates.
All told, the conservative Tax Foundation estimates that Mr. Rubio's plan would cut taxes an average of 17.8 percent for all taxpayers -- but 27.9 percent for the top 1 percent of earners.
Mr. Rubio's rivals would also deliver disproportionate gains to the most affluent. Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida would adjust tax brackets so that the number of families that owe no income tax would rise to 81 million, from 66 million. But he would cut the top income tax rate of 39.6 percent more than twice as much as his brother did as president, to 28 percent, while reducing the top capital gains rate to 20 percent and eliminating the estate tax.
The foundation says the proposal from the real estate magnate Donald J. Trump, who leads Republican polls, would raise incomes of the top 1 percent of earners 27 percent -- also the most of any group.
Blunt talk aside, Mr. Huckabee also favors a tax plan that analysts say also disproportionately benefits the affluent. The so-called fair tax, a national 23 percent sales levy, would tax consumption instead of income -- shielding savings that the wealthy can afford to set aside but that the working class cannot. Rand Paul, a Kentucky senator whose proposed 14.5 percent flat tax the Tax Foundation says would most benefit incomes above $1 million, reacted to Mr. Bernanke's regret by turning the tables. “He should also admit that he was part of the problem and that his policies led to a great deal of this, too,” said Mr. Paul, a persistent critic of Fed policy. [The New York Times, 10/14/15]