The Media

A Lie By Omission or Distortion? (The Missoulian Editorial)

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In its attempt to justify the Bush tax cuts, the Missoulian relies on the insight of the Tax Foundation, referring to the organization like this:

That would have been easier to do a few days ago, before we read an analysis prepared by the nonprofit Tax Foundation.

That’s a nice rhetorical slight of hand. Non-profit means something very different than non-partisan. Media Transparency describes the Tax Foundation like this:

Supplies outrageous figures on taxation that are used throughout the right wing movement. One common figure: The TF says Americans pay 40 percent of every dollar earned to all governmental bodies. More accurate estimations put the figure at 30 percent, making the TF figure 33 percent too high.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities criticizes the Tax Foundation for misleading journalists and the public:

The Tax Foundation employs averages in a misleading fashion that overstates the tax burdens of the vast majority of families. Analysis by authoritative institutions such as the Congressional Budget Office shows most Americans pay significantly less in taxes than the Tax Foundation reports.

In figuring the percentage of income that U.S. families as a whole pay in taxes, the Tax Foundation counts taxes paid on capital gains but ignores the capital gains income on which these taxes are paid. This approach, which Alan Greenspan has said is invalid, artificially inflates the percentage of income consumed by taxes.

Look, if you want to repeat the nonsense that the Wall Street Journal editorial board has been running for the past few years about the unwashed masses not paying their fair share of taxes, go ahead, but at least do your own analysis. The Journal, Missoulian, and Tax Foundation might also do well to consider why the number of people not paying taxes is growing if the economy is doing so well.

Matt’s got a more sophisticated take on the editorial over at Left in the West.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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