President Obama met with the House and Senate leadership of both parties last Tuesday. The conversation turned to the Bush tax cuts:
At a meeting with Congressional leaders of both parties, Mr. Obama vowed that Democrats would extend current income tax rates except for the wealthiest taxpayers. But Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, said the tax cuts should be extended for everyone or else many small business owners would get hit with a big tax bill –- a contention that Mr. Obama disputed.
Mr. Boehner told Mr. Obama that raising income taxes from small businesses would be a job-killer along with other parts of the president’s agenda, including new laws on health insurance and financial system regulation.
But Mr. Obama said most small business owners would not be affected since, as studies have shown, they do not have enough income to be taxed at the two highest rates.
Boeher said something that is flat out untrue. Obama pointed out exactly why it isn’t true. And on the NYT‘s The Caucus blog, the story with the above account gets written up (by Jackie Calmes) with this lede:
President Obama and a Republican Congressional leader squared off at the White House on Tuesday over whether to extend all of the Bush tax cuts that otherwise expire after this year, and in so doing defined the battle lines for the emerging election-season fight.
And this title: Obama and Boehner Spar on Tax Cuts
“Squared off”, and “spar” make it sound very much like Boehner fought Obama to an honorable draw. This is the NYT, mind you. When even the NYT routinely resorts to this kind of pathetic “he-said-she-said-who-knows” journalism, I think Obama needs to follow a very different script if he wants to get the point across to ordinary Americans — who may ordinarily not be paying close attention to facts or news reports — that this whole “small business owners will be hurt” talking point has absolutely no basis in reality.
I am happy to furnish just such a script.
When Boehner claimed that many small business owners would get hit with a big tax bill, I think Obama should have taken him aside, put a comforting arm around his shoulders, and asked kindly: “John, who told you that?” And then responded to his reply with: “Why don’t you talk to economists instead, John? Real economists. And do let us all know what they tell you.”
After such an exchange, I don’t think it’s possible for anyone in the print or TV news business (as opposed to, for example, the partisan propaganda business) to not report this story. And I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to report it without including what real economists do actually say. Namely, that most small business owners would not be affected since studies have shown that they do not have enough income to fall in the two highest tax brackets.