WaPo, NYT, WSJ, LA Times Omit Middle Class Tax Hike Admission by White House

President Obama’s budget is finally out -- a mere 65 days late -- and it’s loaded with tax increases. 

At yesterday’s press briefing, White House flack-in-chief Jay Carney admitted that middle class tax increases were coming.  But if a tree falls in the woods, does anyone hear it? Major media outlets like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and sadly even the Wall Street Journal failed to mention this aspect in their coverage of the budget’s unveiling today. Here's the relevant exchange from the April 9 briefing (emphasis mine):

MAJOR GARRETT, CBS NEWS/NATIONAL JOURNAL:  “A follow-up on Jim’s question -- you do not and the White House does not dispute that if the chained CPI were put in -- to be put into effect, it would raise taxes on middle-income Americans?”

JAY CARNEY:  The chained CPI, which is a technical adjustment to how we measure the consumer price index --

GARRETT:  But its practical effect would be --

CARNEY:  Again --

GARRETT:  -- to raise taxes on --

MR. CARNEY:  I’m not disputing that, but I’m saying that it is not the President’s ideal policy.  It is in a letter from the Senate Minority Leader requesting that it be part of a negotiation deal.

GARRETT:  All right, I'm just saying you don’t disagree, that those things happen?

CARNEY:  Right, but Major, and --

GARRETT:  -- a tax increase?

CARNEY:  -- let’s be clear, as we’ve said all along, that the offer was on the table.  The President made that offer because he was hopeful that we would see commensurate willingness to compromise from Republicans.  Unfortunately, we haven’t seen that.

The President is engaged in conversations with Republicans in the Senate in particular but also in the House in an effort to find common ground, to see if there is a willingness to embrace the idea that we can reduce our deficits in a balanced way and continue to invest in our economy and middle-class families.  And if there is, then we’ll be able to get something done.

GARRETT:  And to critics who would say to this President, looking at this proposal, this is the last and possibly worst time -- from their point of view -- to raise taxes on the middle class, inflict benefit cuts on elderly on fixed incomes, even in the pursuit of deficit reduction, the President would say what?

CARNEY:  The President would say that as part of a balanced approach that asks the wealthy and well-to-do and well-connected to contribute their fair share through tax reform, elimination of special tax breaks that average folks don’t get, that we can also include entitlement reforms that allow us to achieve deficit reduction in a balanced way and allow us to continue to invest in our economy in ways that will help it grow and create jobs.

The budget contains a middle class tax hike to assist in Obama’s balanced approach to get our economy back on track.  Although, the president has reneged on his promise to not increase taxes on those making less than $250,000.  Yet, this is what the New York Times wrote about the revenue increases:

Mr. Obama would raise an estimated $580 billion in new revenue over a decade mainly through two ways. For the fifth time he is proposing that affluent taxpayers in higher tax brackets must limit their deductions to the 28 percent rate; while Congress has annually ignored that idea, there are signs of growing support as lawmakers seek new ways to reduce deficits. The second change would impose his so-called Buffett Rule, requiring that people with annual taxable income above $1 million pay at least 30 percent in income taxes.

Here's the Washington Post's take:

Nearly $600 billion would come from higher taxes on the wealthy, primarily through new limits on itemized deductions for families in the top tax brackets. The budget also would impose a new, minimum tax rate of 30 percent on households earning over $1 million a year, with exemptions to permit large charitable contributions.

The Los Angeles Times:

On the tax side, Obama is reviving his call for measures aimed primarily at the wealthy. His budget includes the so-called Buffett Rule, under which households earning more than $1 million a year would pay at least 30% of their income, after charitable giving, in taxes. It also would tax income from “carried interest” as regular income, closing a loophole that allows Wall Street financial managers to claim a much lower rate. The budget also takes aim at a loophole that allows some wealthy taxpayers to accumulate millions in tax-preferred retirement accounts. Both measures were issues in the president's campaign against Mitt Romney, a former head of a private equity firm.

And, the Wall Street Journal:

The budget would raise the total level of tax revenue to its highest threshold as a share of the economy since the Clinton administration. Limiting the value of tax breaks for wealthier Americans would bring in $583 billion over 10 years, the White House projected.

The president wrote in the blueprint "I will not agree to any deal that seeks to cut the deficit on the backs of middle class families."  Jay Carney, and this entire administration, knows otherwise, which is why this is unsettling that the exchange with Garrett wasn’t incorporated into their coverage.  A president going back on a major promise of this campaign is newsworthy.  There’s no excuse for this omission.  Then again, Obama’s a Democrat.  It must be nice resting in the shade of media-centric political cover.


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