Media Blog

Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers

A half-dozen readers have written in to draw attention to the Associated Press’s “fact-check” feature on the Republican convention. It is, no surprise, tendentious and nakedly pro-Obama. Example:

PALIN: “The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars.”
THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama’s plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain’s plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

What Palin said was: Obama’s plan calls for raising certain taxes, among them income taxes, investment taxes, business taxes, etc. The Associated Press does not find any of these claims to be untrue — because they are true — but instead makes an argument that this isn’t important because Obama’s plan makes certain allowances for middle-income taxpayers. But Palin didn’t say Obama was planning to run roughshod over middle-income taxpayers — she said he plans to raise income taxes, which he does, and business taxes, which he does, and other taxes, which he does. A business isn’t a middle-income taxpayer, but raising taxes on businesses is still a tax increase. The AP isn’t fact-checking here, it’s making an argument on behalf of Obama’s tax plan. It’s true that capital-gains taxes and federal income taxes have more impact on the wealthy than on the middle-income, but you can do a lot of damage to the economy, and therefore to the prospects of middle-income people, by raising taxes on investments and businesses, i.e. on the source of those middle-income people’s jobs, paychecks, and customers.
Maybe the Associated Press would like to explain why middle-class interests should predominate over the interests of Americans who aren’t middle-class. But that’s a very different project than fact-checking Palin, who seems to have her facts together just fine.

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