AP’s Fram Charges GOP ‘Defied’ Public by Passing (Non-Existent) ‘Tax Cuts for the Wealthy’

December 29th, 2010 2:15 AM

Catching up with a distorted news report from Christmas Day, the AP decided to distribute a particularly tendentious piece of “reporting” by the news service’s Washington, DC-based Alan Fram and Jennifer Agiesta, who misleadingly charged House Republicans “defied” public will on “tax cuts for the wealthy,” which were non-existent. They led:

Republicans say they will follow “the people's priorities” when they gain power on Capitol Hill next month. Yet when it came to tax cuts for the wealthy and other top issues that dominated the just concluded lame-duck Congress, the GOP either defied what most Americans want or followed their will only after grudging, drawn-out battles.

The duo’s first piece of evidence:

Congress' approval of a compromise between President Barack Obama and congressional GOP leaders renewing expiring tax cuts for everyone, despite broad public opposition to including people earning over $250,000. An Associated Press-CNBC Poll in late November found only 34 percent wanted taxes reduced for the richest Americans.

In fact, there was never any proposal on the table to “reduce” income taxes for any income class of Americans, just a continuation of the current rates. If the rates were not maintained, Americans would have faced a steep income tax hike as of January 1. (Yes, the wealthy, like everyone else with a job, will pay a little less in FICA, but that was not the subject of the AP-CNBC poll question.)

Despite relentless tax “cut” distortions by the media, several surveys from early December found majority support for maintaining the same tax rates for everyone. A Gallup poll discovered 66 percent agreed: “Extend the federal income tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 for all Americans for two years.”

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 54 percent supported “extending the Bush-era tax cuts for all taxpayers, including wealthy people as well as the middle class.” And 59 percent backed the tax deal struck between President Obama and congressional Republicans, a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found.

Fram and Agiesta proceeded to fret over how Republicans were out of step on Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, the “Dream Act” and “roadblocks the Obama administration faced before ultimately persuading the Senate to ratify a new nuclear treaty with Russia,” before the AP team returned to the tax “cut” fallacy:

On each, Republicans led the effort to oppose policies that most people support, though Obama and many Democrats eventually joined them to back tax cuts for upper-income families.

— Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.