Alfredo Ortiz: The New York Times’s Historic Tax Bill Editorializing Heist
Seemingly copying a Nancy Pelosi fundraising email, the New York Times editorial page described the Senate’s early Saturday tax bill passage as “a historic tax heist,” falsely describing it as a gift to the rich and donor class.
The real heist is the one the Times has carried out on its readers, from whom it has repeatedly and purposely misreported the bill’s provisions in a desperate attempt to block it.
This smoke and mirrors account of the tax bill followed the Times’s decision last week to launch an AstroTurf campaign to persuade readers to flood Republican Senate offices with calls opposing the bill. This is unprecedented lobbying behavior from a major media outlet. President Trump responded by correctly calling the Times “a pipe organ for the Democratic Party.”
The line between the newspaper of record and a political advocacy group is now completely blurred.
The Times said the goal of the Republican bill is “to enrich the country’s elite at the expense of everybody else” — that the bill is a “looting of the public purse by corporations and the wealthy.”
Reality is much different. The bill is full of provisions that would help ordinary Americans — the Times’s purple prose notwithstanding.
The bill would double the income threshold under which people pay zero tax at all to $24,000. This would cover about a quarter of the nation’s households, according to Census Bureau data.
It would double the child tax credit to $2,000 per child per year, helping parents cover increasing costs of childcare.
And it would eliminate the 15 percent tax rate in favor of a vastly expanded 12 percent rate. (Currently the 15 percent rate kicks in at just $18,650 of earned income.)
These provisions will save average middle class families thousands of dollars a year — enough to pay for gas for a year, utility bills, and an annual summer vacation.
The Times also misleads by claiming that the bill’s long overdue small business relief — a new 23 percent tax deduction – would be “a windfall” for President Trump. “[T]he president will be able to claim a 23 percent deduction of profits he earns through his more than 500 pass-through businesses.”
What it doesn’t mention is that this deduction is only available to businesses earning $500,000 or less each year — a criterion which doesn’t apply to the vast majority of President Trump’s business income. (Most small businesses are not as successful as President Trump’s, and shouldn’t be denied relief. According to the Tax Foundation, 97 percent of small businesses earn $500,000 a year or less.)
This small business tax relief would help revitalize Main Streets, including in New York, where the Times recently reported that storefronts are increasingly empty, by allowing them to keep more of their earnings to compete with online and big business competitors. For some, it will make the difference between keeping the lights on or not.
Finally, the Times claims that the bill’s provision to bring the country’s corporate tax rate in-line with international standards is based on the “fantasy” that it “will lead to a boom in investment and wages — an argument disputed by most credible economists.”
The Times must have missed the 137 leading economists who wrote an open letter to Congress last week supporting this provision, stating that it will lead “to more jobs, higher wages, and a better standard of living for the American people.” Survey, economic, and anecdotal evidence back up this position.
Defenders of the Times may argue that these misleading claims come from its editorial page — separate from the news section. But even the Times’s news section, including a front page story, has argued journalists should throw out their old principles of objectivity when covering Trump in favor of an “oppositional” approach.
Is their disdain for the President and middle class-targeted tax cuts so deep that the Times is willing to trade their diminishing authority to spread false truths in an attempt to stop the bill?
Readers, including even hardened partisans, should be outraged by this journalistic ineptitude. Such fake news hurts everyone. But it hurts the Times most of all because it destroys the only value it offers — its credibility.
Alfredo Ortiz is president and CEO of the Job Creators Network.