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Bulls & Bears

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  • Fox melts down after polls show vast majority favor taxing the rich more

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    After new polling was released showing the overwhelming popularity of raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires, Fox News and Fox Business figures blasted voters as “brainwashed” and ignorant and even claimed that some taxes on the wealthy are “anti-human.”

    A Fox News poll released at the end of January showed that a vast majority of registered voters -- 70 percent in total -- support raising income taxes on families making more than $10 million per year, and 65 percent support raising income taxes on those making more than $1 million per year. A Morning Consult/Politico poll released on Monday showed 61 percent of registered voters favor a wealth tax on households worth more than $50 million. Two other recent polls also found majority support for increasing taxes on the rich. But Fox hosts and guests decried these proposals as “one big giant con” amounting to a “war on the wealthy.”

    First up on Monday was the Fox Business show Varney & Co., where host Stuart Varney -- who has previously declared himself among the top 1 percent of income earners in America -- delivered a monologue bashing a Democratic proposal to strengthen and expand Social Security as just “another tax hike proposal from the Democrats.” He said, “The Democrats’ 2020 campaign is an endless series of tax hikes, massive tax hikes with massive new spending. Tax-and-spend on steroids.” He suggested that Democrats’ proposals to tax the richest Americans are aimed at undermining President Donald Trump, declaring that Democrats “hate Trump and can’t tolerate any success, even prosperity.” Varney also warned his viewers that Democrats “resent wealth. And if you’ve got it, they want it.”

    Following Varney’s monologue, Fox contributor Mike Huckabee compared Democratic lawmakers to armed robbers: “The Democrats have got a new uniform they're all supposed to wear. It’s ski masks and carrying blue steel revolvers, because they all believe that, instead of robbing 7-Elevens, they’re just going to rob everybody who has a job, everybody who’s making wages.” He also suggested that the Democrats’ aim was to “kill the economy and put people back on the welfare rolls and get them off those nasty jobs they're getting.” When Varney asked why “this form of socialism, this grab bag of take-money-off-the-rich,” was so popular, Huckabee blamed liberals in teaching positions for having “indoctrinated people coming up through the education system that there’s something really wrong with people who have been successful.” Huckabee continued by blaming American voters, saying, “We have a real economic ignorance going on in America.” Later in Varney’s show, Fox contributor Bill McGurn claimed that Democrats simply “don’t like wealth,” prompting Varney to ask if “jealousy of wealthy people [is] the norm.”

    On Fox’s America’s Newsroom, Fox Business host Charles Payne claimed “there’s a racial element” to raising taxes on the rich and said Democrats are “trying to use tax policy [as] a social justice tool to rewrite the wrongs of yesteryear,” adding, “It’s a punitive action.” Later in the day on his Fox Business show Making Money, Payne declared the Democrats’ tax proposals “the war on the wealthy” and rhetorically asked if Democrats can “win on class warfare.” On Tuesday, Payne returned to America’s Newsroom to blame the education of America’s children for the popularity of taxing the rich: “The idea of fairness has been promoted in our schools for a long time. And we're starting to see kids who grew up in this notion that fairness above all, and now they are becoming voting age and they are bringing this ideology with them.”

    On the Fox Business show Cavuto Coast to Coast, Reagan administration economist Art Laffer slammed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) proposal to greatly increase the estate tax rate for billionaires, saying, “There is no tax that is more vulgar, in my mind, than the death tax.” After a short rant, Laffer declared that the estate tax is “the most anti-family, anti-human tax I know of.”

    Fox Business show Bulls & Bears featured several panelists who ranted against Democratic proposals to tax the rich more. Host David Asman kicked the discussion off by asking, “Isn’t demonizing the rich an attack on the American dream?” Gary Kaltbaum, who runs his own investment firm, responded by calling the proposals “a war on the wealthy” and “just one big giant con because these socialists hate successful people.” Jonathan Hoenig, who owns the aptly named investment fund company Capitalistpig, ranted that American voters “have been brainwashed -- I mean, Americans writ large have been brainwashed in schools” into supporting tax increases on the rich, and claimed, “We’ve never seen this explicit hatred for success, envy of people who produce something.” Hoenig concluded that taxing the rich will run America into “the poor house.”

    And Fox Business host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery used her daily monologue to dismiss the popularity of taxing the rich as a “rush on both sides to fan the flames of jealousy” and called Democrats’ proposals “an emotional and irrational appeal that amounts to redistribution.” She ominously warned rich people: “God help you if you find success in the new world. Even if capitalism is still marginally more popular, socialism has a better PR team. And when it gains a foothold, they're coming to neuter your golden nuggets.”

  • Memo To CNBC Debate Moderators: Don't Fall For These Right-Wing Media Myths About The Economic Cost of Immigration


    As CNBC prepares to host the third Republican presidential debate on October 28 -- which will focus on the economy and is being billed as "Your Money, Your Vote" -- moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood should be prepared to contest and correct several right-wing myths about the economic costs of immigration that are all but certain to come up.

  • The Most Absurd Anti-Immigrant Myths Of 2014


    In 2014, right-wing media attacked immigrants and immigration reform by pushing baseless claims, relying on debunked research, and using misleading statistics about immigrants and the impact of immigration on the United States. Here is a look back at the most absurd anti-immigrant myths of 2014.

  • Fox Business' Francis Ignores Economic Reality Of Abolishing Corporate Taxes

    Blog ››› ››› ALBERT KLEINE

    Fox Business anchor Melissa Francis suggested that the United States should eliminate the corporate tax because "companies don't pay taxes, their customers do" -- a statement of considerable debate among economists -- while overlooking potential revenue losses and negative economic effects if the tax were abolished.

    In the Bulls & Bears segment, Francis claims that the burden of taxes levied on corporations is ultimately shifted to consumers. While economists have long realized that tax incidence can fall to other parties as Francis described, they are unable to agree who truly bears the burden for corporate taxes. From a New York Times article explaining the corporate tax debate:

    Economists are divided on the issue. Some (including Gregory Mankiw) are persuaded that the corporate income tax ultimately falls mainly on labor, rather than on the presumably wealthier owners of capital. One can actually make a case for cutting the tax in the name of a more progressive income-tax structure, which should appeal to voters and politicians left of center.

    Other economists, including the authors of the surveys cited above (Jane Gravelle, Jennifer Gravelle and Thomas Hungerford), are persuaded by the available empirical evidence on the five factors I note that the burden of the corporate tax ultimately rests mainly on the owners of capital. That also appears to be the operative assumption of the Congressional Budget Office, the Treasury and other agencies when they analyze the distributional impact of various forms of taxation. (The New York Times, 7/23/10)

    While Francis never acknowledges this reality, more important is the fact that she completely overlooks the potential revenue loss from abolishing corporate taxes, claiming "the government doesn't need any more of your money." According to analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the corporate income tax is the third largest single tax contributor to the federal budget:


    (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 8/20/12)

    Abolishing the corporate income tax, a small percentage compared to revenue raised by income and payroll taxes, would still result in a substantial loss (about $184 billion in 2011 according to the graph above). Francis never addressed how to account for this lost revenue, which could negatively affect economic growth. The Financial Times further elaborates on potential revenue losses and negative economic effects:

    But lowering the corporate tax rate is expensive - each percentage point reduction would cut revenues by about $120bn over 10 years. Scaling back the three largest corporate tax expenditures to pay for a cut could increase the cost of capital, thereby reducing investment and growth. (Financial Times, 9/17/12)

    The share of federal revenues accounted for by the corporate tax has been on a consistent decline since the 1950s, made up for by increases in payroll tax revenues:


    (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 8/20/12)

    While increasing payroll taxes may help offset corporate tax revenues, the net effect on the economy could be largely negative. As previous Media Matters research points out, many economists believe that low payroll taxes will lead to jobs and economic growth.

    Instead, many economists who are in favor of abolishing corporate taxes on efficiency grounds recommend abolishing preferential taxation of capital gains in order to make up for revenue shortfalls. However, given the right-wing media's unabashed defense of low capital gains tax rates, it is unlikely that would enter the discussion.

  • Fox News Omits Crucial Statement In Discussion About A United Nations "Global Tax"

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    On the September 29 edition of Fox News' Bulls and Bears, host Brenda Buttner and fellow Fox News contributors persisted in fear-mongering about a United Nations proposal for implementation of a "global tax" and failed to report on a statement from the U.S. Mission to the U.N. that threw cold water on the claim.

    Buttner argued to a panel of Fox News contributors that the U.N. global tax proposal "could happen, couldn't it?" She was referring to a FoxNews.com report on the United Nations, which summarized the tax proposal as the following:

    A 1 percent tax on billionaires around the world. A tax on all currency trading in the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound sterling.   Another "tiny" tax on all financial transactions, including stock and bond trading, and trading in financial derivatives.  New taxes on carbon emissions and on airline tickets. A royalty on all undersea mineral resources extracted more than 100 miles offshore of any nation's territory.

    Approximately 24 hours after this story was published, a spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations sent the following "unsolicited statement" to Fox News:

    The United States opposes global taxes because we believe that any source of revenue should remain under the control of national authorities. This is an idea that has been kicked around for years. Fortunately, it hasn't gone anywhere, nor will it.

    In fact, Fox News reported a similar story over a decade ago, but the host of Bulls and Bears Brenda Buttner, nor her panel -- consisting of Gary B. Smith, Stephane Fitch, Kyle Harrington, Jonas Max Ferris, and Tobin Smith -- presented the facts of the global tax initiative.

    Instead of acknowledging the statement or the tax proposal's impotent history, Buttner's panel - consisting of Gary B. Smith, Stephane Fitch, Kyle Harrington, Jonas Max Ferris, and Tobin Smith -- largely buttressed Buttner's fear-mongering about global taxes. Only Fitch questioned the necessity of the segment, arguing that "it's not going to happen," in part because "the U.N. has no taxing authority."


  • Fox Regurgitates Specious Wisconsin Jobs Report, Touts Upcoming Walker Appearances

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Fox News' campaign to bolster Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who faces a recall election on June 5, continued today when host Brenda Buttner, along with contributors Tobin Smith and Gary B. Smith, touted Walker's jobs creation claims as fact though official labor data show that the state has shed tens of thousands of jobs in the past year.

    From the June 2 edition of Bulls & Bears:

    Walker recently released jobs figures that claim Wisconsin gained 23,608 jobs in 2011, up from his original claims of 23,321. But those figures are contradicted by a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows that Wisconsin actually lost 33,900 jobs during that period, from December 2010 to December 2011. On April 24, the bureau released data showing that from March 2011 to March 2012, Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs. And on May 18, the bureau reported that the "largest over-the-month decrease in employment occurred in Maryland (-6,000), followed by Wisconsin (-5,900)."

    As the Christian Science Monitor explained:

    Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs between March 2011 and March 2012, according to data released Tuesday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state's lead in job losses is significantly greater than the rest of the 50 states: No other state lost more than 3,500 jobs.

    The majority of the losses in Wisconsin, 17,800, were in the public sector. However, the state lost more private-sector jobs, 6,100, than any other state. The only other states to report private-sector job losses in the same time period (instead of private-sector gains) were Mississippi and Rhode Island.

  • Fox Targets Tiny Grant Program Helping Local Communities

    Blog ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    Environmental JusticeIn 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency established an Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, which disburses about $1 million in grants every year to non-profit organizations and Native American tribes in the disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately affected by pollution. The grants help communities learn about and find solutions for local environmental and public health problems.

    Following a Daily Caller report, Fox News repeatedly lambasted the program as "government waste" that "we can't afford." Fox's Tobin Smith even baselessly claimed that there is "hundreds of billions of dollars of waste" in "these things." In 2011, the grant program disbursed $1 million in funding - around .0000003% of federal expenditures. So for those trying to follow Fox's logic: We can't afford $1 million for local programs supporting environmental and public health, but if you try to reconsider $70 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy, it's "class warfare."

    Fox predictably failed to mention that this grant program existed throughout the Bush administration. In highlighting several program successes, Bush's EPA described how a $15,000 grant helped an economically disadvantaged area in Michigan that is home to several Native American reservations collect over 47 tons of hazardous waste -- more than the county waste facility collected over the previous seven years.