Ali Velshi at MSNBC Wrong About Tax Plan's Impact and Doesn't Even Know It

MSNBC's Ali Velshi and co-host Stephanie Ruhle apparently gained a bit of far-left street cred in August when they fiercely berated a Donald Trump supporter with an usually strong dose of condescension, telling him that "you can't just lie on TV" about the economy.

On Monday, Velshi lied about the estimated impacts on various income groups of the GOP tax plan published by Congressional Budget Office and didn't even know it — because he had no idea that the table he used contained completely different and irrelevant data.

Here is the first relevant snippet from that August interview with Trump adviser Brad Thomas, where Velshi plays the "We're financial journalists, and you can't get your spin past us" card:



Transcript (bolds are mine throughout this post):

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC: Brad, hold on a second. Hold on. You’re talking to two financial journalists, right? I didn’t know you were going to bring this up so I don’t have the chart ready, but we always put it on. I can find it. I can tweet it out to you. This market started going up on March 9th, 2009 and if you have a ruler it’s a pretty much a straight line from there to now. So there is nothing Donald Trump has done to cause the market to be where it is right now.

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC: And President Trump would like tax reform to get it down but those working on it have said the president is doing nothing to advance that agenda. And look at those CEOs who are on the council who walked away from it —

VELSHI: Stephanie, I want him to answer my question. You keep peddling the myth the Donald Trump is responsible for the market. You are a market guy. You have seen the sop 500 since March 9, 2009, right?

BRAD THOMAS: Absolutely.

VELSHI: So do you give Barack Obama credit for all of the stuff that happened from March 9, 2009 to January 20th, 2017?

THOMAS: The number one driver of the stock market —

VELSHI: Just answer the question, Brad. Answer the question, Brad.

THOMAS: What is the question?

VELSHI: Do you give Barack Obama the credit for all of the stuff that happened from March 9, 2009 to January 20th, 2017? If you do that, then you realize it’s not Donald Trump.

Thomas wouldn't answer the question, which was perfectly defensible, because Velshi couldn't show him the alleged "straight-line" chart. If you can't see it, you don't know it's true, so there's no requirement to comment.

If he had the chart, Thomas would likely have picked Velshi apart (specific data points added by me):




If Ali Velshi believes that the above shows a straight line extending over almost nine years, he needs better glasses — preferably not rose-colored.

I have prepared a post at my home blog for those who want a deeper understanding of why Velshi is so wrong on so many levels in giving Obama so much credit for the stock market's performance after his election and during his presidency. For the purposes of this post, it's enough to say that stock market went absolutely nowhere during the last 22 months of Obama's presidency, and actually fell a tiny bit between December 26, 2014 and November 1, 2016.

Now let's look at the second snippet, showing Velshi's angry, bitter attack on Thomas later in that same interview:



Transcript (from beginning to 0:40, and from 1:18 to 1:31):

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Brad, I spent 14 years in investment banking.

ALI VESHI: You can’t just lie on TV. I don’t know if your people told you who you were coming on TV with but you can’t lie about the economy to us.

THOMAS: I’m not lying about the economy. And the market is speaking for itself. Again, I’m telling you the number one catalyst that will move this market is corporate tax. That is it. Again, this is the number one piece, a rising tide lifts all boats.

RUHLE: What leads you to believe we’re going to have corporate tax reform? Because in order to do so the president would need to be working with GOP leadership. And last I checked he’s donkey kicking them on Twitter.

... VESHI: You should fire your press person. If they didn’t tell you were coming on TV with Velshi and Ruhle, we’ve been doing this for 50 years. This is a silly conversation to have with us.

The "you're not going to fool us because we're the experts" condescension is insufferable.

On Thursday, the markets sided with Thomas and spoke for themselves, as the DJIA rose by over 330 points to hit the all-time high seen on the chart above. Optimism that the GOP-Trump tax package which Velshi and Ruhle insisted no one in the Trump administration was working on in August might pass was the primary driver.

On Monday, Velshi, the self-appointed unimpeachable expert "financial journalist," attempted to explain the impact of the tax package as CBO understood it, and thoroughly embarrassed himself:




ALI VELSHI: Welcome back to Velshi & Ruhle.

The Senate is working to get its version of the tax bill finalized for a vote. Let's take a look at it.

President Trump is promoting the bill on Twitter, claiming that he's got great support. But he acknowledges a few changes. That's because of more bad news from the Congressional Budget Office showing that by 2021, people making less than #30,000 a year are going to be paying between $5,000 and $9,000 more in taxes. By 2027, those folks could see an increase of up to $16,000 in their taxes.

Anyone making than $75,000 would also see an increase by then.

Take a look at this. If you make more than $75,000, you'll see a tax cut every year that gets bigger and (the) closer you get to making $1 million. So that's what this chart tells us.

In that video clip, Ali Velshi demonstrated that he's so financially illiterate and so completely clueless that he couldn't recognize the utter impossibility that a tax bill might extract up to 30 percent more ($9,000 divided by $30,000) of the income of people making less than $30,000 in 2021, and over 50 percent more ($16,000 divided by $30,000) in 2027.

This happened because, as Jack Heretick at the Washington Free Beacon noted, Velshi used a table from a CBO report that had nothing at all to do with the impact of the tax bill at an individual or family level:

The chart is not, as Velshi claims, a hard dollar estimate of the increase or decrease in an individual's tax payment. Rather, the chart displays estimates of the cumulative revenue the federal government will reap (in millions of dollars) from all individuals in the highlighted income brackets compared to current rates.

Here is that table:


As any reader can see, the table clearly states that the amounts presented are in "Millions of Dollars." The "allocations" involved represent the total federal budget impact of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act on all taxpayers in the income categories presented. (UPDATE, December 3: A commenter pointed out that if one tried to apply Velshi's false interpretation to this table, those making under $10,000 per year would be paying $10,070 each in additional income tax in 2027, which is obviously and laughably wrong.)

The related CBO document is a "Cost Estimate" of the provisions of the tax plan, and contains absolutely no reference of any kind to the effects of the tax law (and related spending impacts) on taxpaying individuals or households.

How could anyone in Velshi's position not have recognized that he was presenting bogus numbers and lying to his audience? He clearly didn't.

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Velshi and co-host Ruhle claim to be deeply experienced, business-savvy people who feel they can beat up on others because of their 50 years of involvement in investment banking and financial journalism. If they're so darned smart, how could they so have so obviously failed to detect that these numbers made no sense well before the show began?

Since Ali Velshi was making specific suggestions about people who should be fired in August, I'm going to make a couple now: A supposedly expert "financial journalist" and his co-host who can't even understand the contents of a Congressional Budget Office table and who, because of that failure, gave their audience completely bogus information and lied about the effects of the most significant tax proposal in the past 30 years.

Cross-posted at

Congress Economy Business Coverage Stock Market Taxes Conservatives & Republicans Blogs MSNBC Other MSNBC Video Stephanie Ruhle Ali Velshi Donald Trump

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