CBS Trashes White House’s Tax Plan, Critique Divorced from Reality

The White House on Wednesday released the outline for the President’s proposed tax plan that would drastically cut taxes and simplify the filing process, among other things. CBS’s resident Trump critic and anchor, Scott Pelley kicked off the show smearing it. “Today the Trump administration rushed out a plan for historic tax cuts high on hyperbole, but with only a dollop of detail,” he declared at the top of CBS Evening News. His critique was loaded with snide attacks at the President and at one point divorced itself from reality, something Pelley once chastised Trump for.

“The list of aspirations looked more like an attempt to beat the 100-day mark in the Trump presidency rather than a serious proposal to reform the tax code,” he slammed. From there, he unleashed a torrent of condemnation with little substance:

On paper, everyone is in for a break, personal income taxes, corporate taxes, savings for the rich and the dead, but nothing on how to implement it or pay for it. Far from legislation, the President's bullet points today were loaded into a starting gun that signals the beginning of a race of lobbyists and special interests to rewrite America's 70,000-page tax code.

Pelley’s mischaracterization of the plan is obvious upon reading the document. The plan aims to provide savings for all of America. It even says the plan aims to: “Eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers.” And the smug remark about “the dead” getting a tax break dismisses the tragedy of family farms, businesses, and land having to be broken up and sold in order to please the hungry IRS.

And his claim that interest groups and lobbyists were racing to have a hand in the plan is inaccurate since the document clearly states that it also aims to: “Eliminate tax breaks for special interest.” Which was a point that was never brought up in Major Garrett’s report. He too railed against the plan:

The non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget called the promise of economic growth “magic beans” and warned, "There is no golden goose at the top of the tax cut bean stock, just mountains of debt."

Meanwhile, on NBC Nightly News, Anchor Lester Holt sounded surprisingly upbeat about the proposal. “With great buildup, the White House announced a massive tax cut plan today, one it's calling the largest tax cut in history,” he said while kicking off the program. “And one that could offer significant relief for a lot of Americans, not only families and individuals but businesses, too.”

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“The administration doubling the standard deduction for individuals and married couples. That would leave more money in people's pockets and make filing taxes easier,” reported Peter Alexander. He also noted that it has “a special one-time tax to lure companies to reinvest money kept overseas back here at home and the elimination of tax breaks for special interests.” That’s in direct contradiction to Pelley’s assertion.

All members of the Big Three (ABC, CBS, and NBC) shared a concern about how the Trump business and the President himself could benefit from his plan. “In 2005 the alternative minimum tax that the president now wants to kill, cost him $31 million, just one example how he could benefit,” Alexander fretted.

ABC’s Jon Karl badgered Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin about when the President intended to release his tax returns.

Pelley’s remarks are a continuation of the anti-Trump rhetoric that has won him the admiration of his journalist colleagues. The contrast between CBS and NBC was day and night. NBC admitted that the proposal’s tax relief was something that average Americans would love to see. But Pelley chose to launch a volley of incendiary remarks. 

Transcripts below:

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CBS Evening News
April 26, 2017
6:31:27 PM Eastern

SCOTT PELLEY: Today the Trump administration rushed out a plan for historic tax cuts high on hyperbole, but with only a dollop of detail. The list of aspirations looked more like an attempt to beat the 100-day mark in the Trump presidency rather than a serious proposal to reform the tax code.

On paper everyone is in for a break, personal income taxes, corporate taxes, savings for the rich and the dead, but nothing on how to implement it or pay for it. Far from legislation, the President's bullet points today were loaded into a starting gun that signals the beginning of a race of lobbyists and special interests to rewrite America's 70,000-page tax code. Here's Major Garrett on the opening lap.

[Cuts to video]

DONALD TRUMP: Great plan.

MAJOR GARRETT: President Trump's plan calls for big corporate and personal tax cuts, but lacks basic details. The President wants to replace the current seven personal tax brackets with three, with rates of 10, 25, and 35 percent. His proposal, however, did not give income levels for those brackets. White House economic adviser Gary Cohn. Do you have income brackets established that you're going to propose to Congress on that?

GARY COHN: We're holding a bunch of listening groups right now. We have outlines. We have a broad brush view of where they're going to be.

GARRETT: There were some details: Eliminate the estate tax and alternative minimum tax. Preserve personal deductions for mortgage interest and charitable donations. And on the business side, lower the corporate tax rate from 35 to 15 percent. But taxes are about specifics. Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin came with precious few.

The non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget called the promise of economic growth “magic beans” and warned, "There is no golden goose at the top of the tax cut bean stock, just mountains of debt." Mnuchin was also asked if the president will release his tax return so the country can judge what his tax plan will do for his bottom line.

Mnuchin today confused the annual federal deficit, about $600 billion, with the national debt held by the public. That stands at nearly $15 trillion. Scott, that's a common mistake for budget amateurs, but not treasury secretaries. Even a newly minted one. 

...

NBC Nightly News
April 26, 2017
7:01:11 PM Eastern

LESTER HOLT: Good evening. With great buildup, the White House announced a massive tax cut plan today, one it's calling the largest tax cut in history, and one that could offer significant relief for a lot of Americans, not only families and individuals, but businesses, too. The proposed cut of the corporate tax rate, the focus of a lot of attention tonight, because among the prime beneficiaries, businesses like President Trump's. But as they say, the devil is in the details, which appear to be fairly sparse at this point. NBC News National Correspondent Peter Alexander tells us more.

[Cuts to video]

PETER ALEXANDER: Tonight, from the president and his team on taxes, an ambitious opening bid.

GARY COHN: We have a once in a generation opportunity to do something really big.

ALEXANDER: The White House outlining a sweeping across the board tax overhaul.

STEVE MNUCHIN: Under the Trump plan, we will have a massive tax cut for businesses and massive tax reform.

ALEXANDER: Reporter: The headliner, reducing the number of individual income tax brackets from seven to three, 10%, 25%, and 35%. The administration doubling the standard deduction for individuals and married couples. That would leave more money in people's pockets and make filing taxes easier.

MNUCHIN: We are going to eliminate on the personal side all tax deductions other than mortgage interest and charitable deductions.

ALEXANDER: A boon for businesses, too, both large and small. Slashing the corporate tax rate to 15%, a cut that would also extend to personal real estate empires, like Mr. Trump's. A special one-time tax to lure companies to reinvest money kept overseas back here at home, and the elimination of tax breaks for special interests. The goal, stimulating the economy. The specifics, still a mystery.

In 2005 the alternative minimum tax that the president now wants to kill, cost him $31 million, just one example how he could benefit.

[Cuts back to live]

So how much would the President's tax plan cost? One leading nonpartisan fiscal watchdog group estimates the price tag could approach nearly $6 trillion over the next decade. And experts say there is no way this tax reform would be able to pay for itself or even come close. Lester?

NB Daily Economy Budget Personal Finance Real Estate Taxes Government Agencies Bias by Omission Conspiracy Theories Covert Liberal Activists Double Standards Labeling ABC World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News NBC NBC Nightly News Video Scott Pelley Major Garrett Lester Holt Peter Alexander Donald Trump Steve Mnuchin

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