L.A. Times Reporters Hit Dems From Left On Taxes

"Ugh, now the Democrats like tax cuts too!"

That's essentially the tone of a March 5 Los Angeles Times article* that took Democrats to task for their plans for what President Clinton was fond of calling "targeted tax cuts." Apparently they just "cost" the government too much of our money:

WASHINGTON // After years of claiming that Republicans were cluttering
the tax code with provisions that enriched the wealthy, leading Democrats in Congress want to add more tax credits and deductions to benefit narrow groups of largely middle-class constituents.

Among potential beneficiaries: people with elderly parents in nursing homes, new parents, college students, volunteer firefighters and organ donors.

But all these goodies are raising questions about how the Democrats can give away tax revenues while keeping their pledge not to deepen the government's deficit.

But wait, there's more...

Reporters Joel Havemann and Molly Hennessy-Fiske continued with a messy report that mislabeled the Concord Coalition as "conservative," gave bona fide conservative tax reform advocate Grover Norquist just one line of comment, and left out the leftward leanings of the "nonpartisan Tax Policy Center."

Tax credits "drain the government of precious resources," Havemann and Hennessy-Fiske quoted Tax Policy Center's (TPC) Burman. Such new credits and deductions end up "aggravating the deficit or forcing Congress to raise taxes on everybody
else," the reporters helpfully added. Of course that falls squarely in line with the liberal conception of tax revenue as the government's money to dole out.

Yet the Times reporters failed to acknowledge that Burman's group has a political leaning, calling it a "nonpartisan" group. In fact, TPC is a joint venture of liberal think tanks the Urban Institute
and the Brookings Institution.

And while many conservatives regularly pan selective tax credits in favor of broader-based tax reduction and reform, conservative objections were given just one line by conservative tax reform advocate Grover Norquist.

Calling it a "conservative Washington-based group," Havemann and Hennessy-Fiske cited objections from The Concord Coalition to Democratic plans to push through new "middle class" tax credits.

Of course the Times reporters failed to explain how a group that has criticized the Bush tax cuts for growing the deficit is a conservative organization.

* The Baltimore Sun also ran the Times story, and that is where I first ran across the article.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.