Tax Policy: Now With Facts

This kind of reporting from the Associated Press is just incredibly frustrating:

Obama has said his tax policies would cut payments for 95 percent of working Americans, while increasing them only for families making more than $250,000 a year. McCain has argued that 40 percent of Americans don’t pay income taxes, either because they are seniors or don’t meet minimum earnings thresholds, so the only way to cut their taxes is to give them various credits.

Imagine a crazy world in which reporters not only told you what candidates say but also made an effort to tell the audience what the truth is. Crazy idea. Weird stuff. Fortunately, there are blogs. Here’s a chart from the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of the McCain and Obama proposals:

What’s the more interesting fact here? That Obama says his plan will cut taxes for 95 percent of the population or that his plan does in fact cut taxes for 95 percent of the population? You can be the judge.


Meanwhile, as John McCain says, it’s true that forty percent of the workforce pays no net income taxes. But everyone who works pays payroll tax. Payroll tax is a tax, ergo if you work you pay taxes, ergo if you work you could receive a tax cut. It’s true that the method by which you deliver tax cuts to people with no income tax liability is via a refundable tax credit, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re talking about reducing the tax burden on people who pay taxes. You’re offering them a tax cut, in other words. Or as McCain puts it, “socialism.” Meanwhile, George W. Bush is nationalizing banks and John McCain wants to buy up bad mortgages so that those who currently own them don’t need to pay any financial penalty for their unsound lending practices.