Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Limbaugh Manipulative Machine: #5

It is Republican lore, faithfully repeated by the mainstream media (or, as Sarah Palin delightfully calls it, "the lamestream media"), that Republicans always "lower taxes" while Democrats always "raise taxes."

Perhaps it's the media's attempt to be "fair and balanced" that little is done to refute this urban myth, or why Rush Limbaugh yesterday could claim of President Obama

He hasn't cut anybody's taxes. The Recovery Act, stimulus bill, it's more like loaves and fishes. There are no tax cuts in that. There were some tax credits. It's all bogus.

Non-Christians and Christians take note: Rush Limbaugh, having ridiculed the miracle of the "loaves and fishes" of the Gospels by equating it with a "bogus" claim of Barack Obama, apparently is a non-believer. Until it's more convenient for him yet again to accuse Democrats of being anti-God.

But more important that Limbaugh's denigration of a Scripture passage is his claim that "he hasn't cut anybody's taxes," especially because most people believe it. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports

Middle-income households are paying overall federal taxes — which include income as well as payroll and excise taxes — at or near their lowest levels in decades, according to the latest data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

But was Rush actually lying when he maintained "he hasn't cut anybody's taxes" and "the Recovery Act, stimulus bill, it's more like loaves and fishes. There are no tax cuts in that. There were some tax credits."


This year, the Making Work Pay tax credit, which President Obama and Congress enacted as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is providing a credit of $800 to married joint filers ($400 to single filers). A median-income family with two children thus will receive an $800 tax cut in the return it files this year.

With the new tax cut, the median family’s federal income taxes will equal just 4.6 percent of its income in 2009. That is lower than in any year since 1955 (the first year for which these data are available) except for 2008, when another stimulus-related tax cut was in effect.

The 4.6 percent effective tax rate — the percentage of its income that a family pays in taxes — is well below the 15 percent marginal tax rate that a family of four in the exact middle of the income spectrum faces. Typically, such a family reduces its effective tax rate by taking the standard deduction (or, in some cases, itemized deductions), personal exemptions, and tax credits such as the child tax credit. The Making Work Pay tax credit further reduces that family’s effective tax rate.

The effective tax rate has gone down- almost exclusively with credits which, CBS News found, include:

*An increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit

*An expansion of the Child Tax Credit

*For those who work, the Making Work Pay tax credit offered $400 per individual and $800 per couple

*For those who lost their job, there was a 65 percent tax credit to help cover the cost of health care. The first $2,400 in unemployment benefits went tax-free

*Up to $2,500 under the American Opportunity Credit for students and parents paying for college tuition

*$8,000 for first-time home buyers

*A deduction of state and local taxes paid on a new car

*Up to $1,500 for home improvements to increase energy efficiency

One may conclude, then, that Rush is not lying: credits (rather than a cut in rates) account for virtually all of the decline in taxes. This is extremely misleading, but not a falsehood- except for the deduction of state and local taxes paid on a new car and "provisions allowing small businesses to write off a wider range of business expenses," praised by the conservative Americans for Tax Reform.

Not only, then, are Limbaugh's comments deceptive, but inaccurate when he states that "no one" has gotten a "tax cut." (Obviously, the remark "it's all bogus" is ludicrous, but that one is too easy.) Some individuals have gotten a cut quite apart from credits- but whether Limbaugh has chosen to avail himself of that information is unknowable.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss, especially when you're Rush Limbaugh.

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