Nearly $1 trillion. Certainly that’s a big enough tax hike to warrant prominent mention in a broadcast evening news show – especially after an election fueled by anger against government overspending and potential tax hikes.
Yet, only one of the three broadcast evening shows mentioned that number in its report about the debt commission’s preliminary recommendations that shook Washington on Nov. 10. The preliminary report called for tax cuts, tax increases, a rise in the retirement age, some spending cuts, and changes to Social Security and Medicare.
That night, CBS’s Chip Reid was the only reporter to point out that “overall taxes would increase because many popular tax breaks would be slashed.” One of the tax breaks in jeopardy: the home mortgage interest deduction. Reid cited the $961 billion cost estimate (over 10 years) from Americans for Tax Reform in his “Evening News” report.
ATR slammed the report saying, “It confirms what everyone has known – this commission is merely an excuse to raise net taxes on the American people.”
That’s not how the other networks portrayed the news. NBC “Nightly News” presented the report as proposed spending cuts, and Lisa Myers claimed that the eliminated tax breaks “would be partly offset” by lower income tax rates. Myers quoted ATR’s statement about raising “net taxes,” but did not include their estimate of nearly $1 trillion price tag.
ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer” focused primarily on the politics of the issue, saying there was “plenty for both sides to hate.” Jonathan Karl did mention some of the tax hikes, but failed to note the huge overall cost to taxpayers or to include any tax group representative.
None of the three programs noted that the commission proposed treating capital gains as ordinary income, which Jim Pethokoukis of Reuters said on Twitter Nov. 10. That would increase the capital gains rate from its current 15 percent rate.