Framing the debate through a liberal prism hostile to continuing the current income tax rates, ABC and CBS worried Thursday night about the “cost” of not raising taxes, as if all money belongs to the government, as both expounded on how not ending the Bush rates will fuel massive deficits. “If all the Bush tax cuts end for the top two percent of earners, $700 billion will be added to government coffers,” CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric warned, and “if all the cuts stay in place, the deficit will soar by $3.7 trillion over ten years.”
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer promised answers to “how much the tax break for the wealthy increases the deficit and what is the impact on small businesses.” Reporter Jonathan Karl relayed how “Democrats say extending the top Bush tax cuts means a big windfall for the rich.” He ruled: “So will it help the super-rich? The answer, yes, of course it will.”
Karl continued: “Will extending tax cuts on the top brackets add to the deficit? Yes. Extending tax cuts for those making over $200,000 a year would mean about $700 billion more in debt over 10 years. But extending them for those with incomes under $200,000 costs even more -- $3.1 trillion in debt.”
(Karl also at least acknowledged how raising taxes on the wealthy will lead small business to create fewer new jobs.)
Couric had mischaracterized maintaining the status quo as a tax “cut” for the rich, noting the “majority Democrats in the lame duck House fired one parting shot today with a purely symbolic vote to deny a cut to the highest income earners.”
Later, Couric recalled how President Reagan “cut tax rates by a whopping 23 percent,” fretting that came “at a cost to the government of over $750 billion.”
From the Thursday, December 2 ABC’s World News, transcript provided by the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth:
DIANE SAWYER: And back in this country, the topic, taxes. The clock is running out on those Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans. And today the House voted to make them permanent for the middle class but let taxes rise for the wealthiest Americans. However, that bill appears to be stuck and going nowhere. So, as the debate continues, we ask Jon Karl to tell us how much the tax break for the wealthy increases the deficit and what is the impact on small businesses. And he checked the facts.
JONATHAN KARL: Democrats say extending the top Bush tax cuts means a big windfall for the rich.
SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY): It's to give the millionaires a huge tax break.
KARL: So will it help the super-rich? The answer, yes, of course it will. Because if the top tax cuts are allowed to expire, someone making $1 million would see their taxes go up about $43,000. For someone making $10 million, about $450,000. But Republicans say this is really about job creation.
REP. WALLY HERGER (R-CA): -a massive tax increase on small business owners.
KARL: So will letting the tax cuts expire hurt small business owners and cost jobs? The answer, yes, at least some. People like Drew Greenblatt , who -- when we visited his 30-employee wire basket company in Baltimore -- told us an increase in the top tax rate would cost him about $40,000, and likely at least one job lost.
DREW GREENBLATT, MARTIN STEEL WIRE PRODUCTS LLC: This is going to pull cash out of our company so we're going to have less money to invest.
KARL: And today, Bob McCutcheon, who runs an apple processing company in Maryland, told us an increase in the top rate would cut into his plans to hire more workers.
BOB MCCUTCHEON, MCCUTCHEON APPLE PRODUCES, INC: I think if they voted tomorrow to not extend the tax cuts, I think that would really affect us in terms of our expansion.
KARL: What about the deficit?
SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO): They want to blow the lid off this deficit and not pay for a dime of it?
KARL: Will extending tax cuts on the top brackets add to the deficit? Yes. Extending tax cuts for those making over $200,000 a year would mean about $700 billion more in debt over 10 years. But extending them for those with incomes under $200,000 costs even more -- $3.1 trillion in debt. Meanwhile, tonight, negotiations are under way on a compromise deal that would extend all of the tax cuts but do so only temporarily. But, Diane, even as that deal is being worked out, many rank-and-file Democrats here on Capitol Hill are digging in, saying they don't want to extend the tax cuts for the rich, not even temporarily.
— Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.