Why does the Washington Post pay Michael Gerson to mislead its readers?

Former Bush speechwriter and current Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson plays fast and loose with the facts:

The primary economic debate between now and the election will concern the tax reductions of 2001 and 2003 -- President Bush's economic stimulus -- which are due to expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress acts. Obama has proposed to eliminate the portion of that stimulus that goes to wealthier taxpayers.

Set aside Gerson's description of tax cuts for people making more than $200,000 a year as “stimulus”; that's garden-variety spin. Focus instead on the shell game Gerson plays. First Gerson rightly notes that Bush's tax cuts are “due to expire” under current law. Then he claims Obama has “proposed to eliminate” a portion of them. Well, no. Obama has talked about not extending them. One needn't propose their elimination; that's set to occur under the current law -- the one signed by Bush himself.

Gerson continues:

Democrats might break a Senate filibuster by persuading some Republicans to support an extension of Bush's tax cuts for the middle class but not the wealthy. Momentum, however, runs in the other direction. Republicans are unlikely to give the president a legislative victory immediately before the midterms, particularly one that increases taxes.

Again: That isn't honest. Such a package would not “increase taxes” on the wealthy. It would allow them to increase in accordance with current policy, as signed into law by President Bush.

Gerson concludes:

Obama's tax increase on the rich would be used to reduce the deficit, resulting in a net contraction of economic activity. Tax increases to pay for past spending do not stimulate the economy.

There's no such thing as “Obama's tax increase on the rich.” You can give Gerson credit for persistence if you like, but regardless of how often he blames Barack Obama for policy signed into law by George W. Bush, it simply isn't true. The Washington Post is allowing Gerson to lie to its readers. That's sad, but not surprising.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto tells the truth about the Bush tax cuts:

Don't call it “extending the Bush tax cuts.” Call it “repealing the Bush tax increase.” This would be entirely accurate: Taxes are going up pursuant to legislation enacted by a Republican Congress and signed by Bush.

You know things have gotten bad when a conservative columnist for a Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper is more likely to tell the truth about the Bush tax cuts than a Washington Post columnist.