Wishful Thinking at AP: 'Some Argue' That Jan. Tax Increases Won't Be Harmful, Because They 'Can Be Addressed Retroactively'

July 17th, 2012 9:33 AM

One useful interpretation of a journalist's use of "some people say that" or "some argue that" without an accompanying reference to or quote from a subject matters expert is that such phrases really mean "in my opinion."

This is the very likely case in a disingenuously headlined Associated Press story yesterday by Andrew Taylor concerning the standoff between the Republicans, who want the current income tax structure continued for at least another year, and Democrats, including President Obama, who want to raise taxes (they describe it as "ending the Bush tax cuts," which fully went into effect over nine years ago) on "the rich," currently defined as people making $200,000 or more per year. Taylor put the following statement out there without identifying any economist or political analyst who might agree with it (because I doubt there are many, or even any):

Democrats seek leverage as fiscal cliff looms

... On taxes, on the other hand, some argue that the impact of the fiscal cliff won't be too dramatic since most of the increases taking effect Jan. 1 can be addressed retroactively.

Substituting "in my opinion" for "some argue that" seems to work pretty well in this instance.

Taylor's "some argue that" assertion is absurd.

Effective January 1, 2013, if nothing is done, tens of millions of Americans will be taking home less money in their paychecks. They will mostly spend less, which will slow down the economy. Some will borrow more, creating or increasing the interest charges they must pay, which will be money not spent on consumption or invested in an enterprise. Nothing subsequently done in March, April, or June will change the fact that the economy slowed down in January.

Lots of named people, including Arthur Laffer and Ford M. Scudder yesterday in Monday's Wall Street Journal, are making that commonsense argument. Their opening contention: "The United States faces an economic collapse thanks to massive tax increases on Jan. 1, and continued deficit spending for years on end."

The headline at a Monday Investor's Business Daily editorial yesterday described the situation perfectly: "Look Who's Holding the Economy Hostage Now."

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.