How The New York Times Misrepresented Chuck Schumer On Taxes

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) has made it clear that he doesn’t accept the parameters of Republican leadership’s idea that revenue can be raised by further lowering top income tax rates. In October, he said Congress “ought to scrap” any such plan, and yesterday, he decried the GOP’s “Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale” that cutting tax rates could drive new revenues through dynamic scoring.

The New York Times, however, reported today that Schumer had indicated a willingness to consider a tax plan that keeps the top tax rate at 35 percent, the point it reached after the Bush tax cuts:

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, extended an olive branch to Republicans, suggesting Thursday that he could accept a tax plan that leaves the top tax rate at 35 percent, provided that loophole closings would hit the rich, not the middle class. He previously had said that he would accept nothing short of a return to the top tax rate of Bill Clinton’s presidency, 39.6 percent.

“If you kept them at 35, it’s still much harder to do,” Mr. Schumer said, “but obviously there is push and pull, and there are going to be compromises.”

Schumer’s full quote, however, doesn’t seem to make that same suggestion. After Schumer told reporters that it was “counter-intuitive” to think substantial revenue could be raised by lowering tax rates, as Republicans have suggested, he was asked about maintaining current rates. Though he conceded that there may be compromise, he didn’t indicate that he would accept such a deal and restated his belief that the election was a clear mandate for raising the high-income rate to Clinton-era levels:

SCHUMER: Well, you know, if you kept them at 35, it’s still much harder to do, but obviously there’s push and pull and there’s going to be compromises. The President’s view, my view, the overwhelming view that we ran on and succeeded on-that exit polls show the American people agreed with us on is let the rate go to 39.6 for the highest-end people.

Schumer has been clear about his insistence on allowing the high-income Bush tax cuts to expire, and despite the New York Times’ report of recent remarks, his position doesn’t seem to have changed.