Truth in Budget Numbers

by Linda Beale

Truth in Budget Numbers
crossposted with Ataxingmatter

Seems like everybody these days is into misrepresenting, distorting, or at least stretching the facts to suit the spin they want to give.

One issue that I raised in my snarky post on the 15th about the Budget commentary was the way most media has described the December 2010 Tax Relief ….and Job Creation Act.  As you will recall, that bill extended the Bush tax cuts for another two years, and most of the media talks about it as a “tax cut” bill.  But in fact that bill ended the “Making Work Pay” provision, a cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s attempt to make the stimulus package work for ordinary Americans.  The end of that provision resulted in a substantial tax increase for 51 million Americans in the lower income distribution.  See, e.g., Floyd Norris,  Some Taxes Went Up   (Feb. 4, 2011); Tax Policy Center, Table on the 2010 tax bill (Dec. 13, 2010).  When we talk about that bill, wouldn’t it be more accurate to discuss it as a tax bill that increased the burden on some of those in the most unfortunate circumstances, while giving substantial tax cuts to those at the top?, of course, spends its time looking for just those kinds of distorting statements and trying to set the record straight so that we are all talking about the same set of facts. 

They did an analysis of the “Budget Spin” that both sides put out surrounding the release of the President’s Budget.  Both sides get very bad grades.   Both sides misrepresent facts–neither Democrat nor Republican is immune.  And those misstated facts spread like wildfire over the net, as illustrated by Sarah Palin’s “mis-tweet” claiming that the White House is proposing a mere $775 million in cuts amounting to less than 1/10th of 1% of the deficit and linking to Glenn Beck’s right-wing website as proof. The truth is quite different–$33 billion in discretionary cuts for 2012, and the website link  from which she got her information was a mischaracterization of some examples offered by White House Budget Director Lew that was posted 5 days before the budget release. But Palin’s “mis-tweet” has been “re-tweeted” and that is the way misleading information is spread so easily on the net.

PS  if you enjoyed this you will also enjoy Floyd Norris on Life at the Dakota, noting the miracles (or at least, loopholes) achieved by someone with a mere $1.5 million in taxable income and outlays considerably greater just on housing…