Media Wrongly Label Liberal Tax Policy Center in 98 Percent of Stories

The news media have long promoted left-leaning tax analysis by dressing up liberal tax groups as “nonpartisan.” Most recently, print media and the networks have appealed to the liberal Tax Policy Center (TPC) to criticize President Donald Trump’s tax plan.

Between the 2016 election and October 2, 2017, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal cited TPC 186 times. While at least 72 of those stories used the phrase “nonpartisan Tax Policy Center,” just four (or 2.1 percent) accurately described TPC as “left-leaning” or “liberal-leaning.” The other 98 percent of stories did not.

Yet TPC has received millions of dollars from liberal donors like the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation. It was also founded by two liberal groups --the Urban Institute and Brookings Institute. As The Wall Street Journal pointed out in March 2016, both the Brookings Urban Institutes regularly oppose tax cuts, and that bias has flooded TPC’s positions.

A pessimistic TPC report released Sept. 29 claimed Trump’s latest tax plan would “reduce federal revenue by $2.4 trillion over ten years and $3.2 trillion over the second decade.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial board slammed the report as “impossibly specific,” given the details that were actually released. But The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times all touted the report without mentioning TPC’s anti-tax cut bias.

But TPC’s own website confirms that bias. Merely searching the phrase “tax cut” on TPC’s website pulls up ominous headlines like “States That Cut Taxes Do So At Their Peril,” “What’s The Matter With Kansas And Its Tax Cuts? It Can’t Do Math,” and “The Public Does Not Seem to be Clamoring for a Tax Cut.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, the problem with TPC’s analysis “concerns economic assumptions.”

“Partisans can honestly debate economic assumptions, but the Tax Policy Center betrays its bias by making premature guesses based on partisan assumptions,” namely TPC assuming “almost no growth impact from tax cuts, whether on capital or income,” the Editorial Board wrote on Oct. 1.

Co-founder and chairman of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Dan Mitchell made a similar observation. “The TPC is a serious group that does serious work, but it also has a left-of-center agenda. It may be nonpartisan but it's definitely pushing an agenda,” Mitchell told MRC Business in an Oct. 3, statement.

“Honest reporters shouldn't hide the TPC's ideological leanings,“ he concluded.

Yet only four stories between the election and Oct. 2, 2017, indicated TPC had any liberal bias. And none of those stories mentioned the millions TPC has received from liberal donors.

Since 2004, The Ford Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation have given TPC nearly $10.8 million. The same donors flocked to fund liberal journalism groups like the Center for Public Integrity and ProPublica following Trump’s election.

The MacArthur Foundation announced in 2016 it would be giving $25 million to 12 media groups which have also been funded by liberal billionaire George Soros.

The Ford Foundation and Soros’ Open Society Foundations both donated tens of millions of dollars to groups that pushed for a liberal Supreme Court Justice replacement after Antonin Scalia died in February 2016.

Former Rockefeller Foundation president Dr. Judith Rodin meanwhile sought preferential treatment at a 2011 State Department dinner from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide. Rodin was a “big supporter of the Clinton Foundation,” according to a September, 2015 Politico report.

In January 2017, Rajiv Shah took over as Rockefeller Foundation president. Shah also has ties to Clinton. He headed USAID under President Barack Obama and co-chaired the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and effort led by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

It isn’t just print media appealing to the liberal-funded TPC.

ABC News Chief Business, Technology & Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis used a TPC analysis to criticize Trump’s tax plan on ABC Good Morning America November 14, 2016. Good Morning America again appealed to the same report from “independent” TPC in April 2017.

CBS Evening News turned to the supposed “non-partisan” TPC all the way back in September, 2015, in order to condemn Trump’s tax plan during the election.

Methodology: MRC Business searched The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal for mentions of “Tax Policy Center” between November 8, 2016 and October 2, 2017. MRC Business repeated the same search twice more. Once, using the phrase “nonpartisan Tax Policy Center,” and once for articles mentioning “Tax Policy Center” and using the terms “left-wing,” “liberal,” or “left-leaning.” In the last search, MRC Business identified only four stories in which the terms referred to the Tax Policy Center.


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Aly Nielsen's picture