The right-wing talk show circuit has lately worked itself into a frenzy over one of its latest causes: trying to convince America that Barack Obama's tax plan will crush working class families and destroy the economy. Media Matters for America has done an incredible job of tracking the inaccurate statements that have been made on the air about Obama's tax plan without being challenged or corrected. Unsurprisingly, a number of these incidents occur on Fox News.
On June 11 they caught Ben Stein making the outlandish claim that people "that have incomes in the five digits" would pay more because of Obama's proposed changes in the capital gains tax rate. As pointed out in a recent report by CTJ, over 70 percent of the Bush tax cut for capital gains and dividends goes to the richest one percent of taxpayers. The bottom 60 percent of taxpayers only get about 2 percent of that tax cut -- and an average tax cut of about $16!
On June 15 Media Matters caught Mara Liasson telling America that the Tax Policy Center's report on the candidates' tax plans found that Obama's tax plan would increase the deficit more than McCain's tax plan. In fact, the report found the exact opposite.
Then on June 16 they found a Republican strategist claiming, without being challenged or questioned by the anchor, that under Obama's plan, taxes for "an average family making $61,000 -- just alone letting the tax cuts expire -- would go up $2,100. That's a lot of money for an average family." Of course, Obama's plans don't call for repealing the Bush tax cuts for anyone with an income lower than $250,000. (We wish Obama would repeal the Bush tax cuts for a far larger number of taxpayers. A report released by CTJ in January showed that only 2.1 percent of taxpayers will have incomes above this level in 2008.)
Keeping track of right-wing distortions about tax policy in the media is a hard job (covering Fox News alone is daunting) so Media Matters is an invaluable asset to us all.