Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Real Story on Tax Promises

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Real Story on Tax Promises

Article excerpt

Robert McIntyre calls himself "an equal-opportunity complainer." The director of Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal think tank in Washington, grumbles that both the Al Gore and George W. Bush campaigns have misrepresented his statements analyzing their respective tax plans. This is especially relevant right now. The GOP campaign has moved away from the character issue to policy questions. And last week, Mr. Bush concentrated his attention on tax matters

Because of his tax expertise, Mr. McIntyre is often sought out by the media for comments. But just as movie advertisers pick out a favorable phrase from a critic's negative review, both campaigns use his remarks, shall we say, selectively.

In speaking on CNN a while back, McIntyre charged that the Democratic candidate's $500 billion tax plan includes too many targeted tax breaks. It would further complicate an already complex tax code.

At the same time, he said Bush's $1.3 trillion tax cuts would give most of the savings to the already rich and was so big it would bust the budget and create a deficit.

Guess which statement each of the two campaigns picked out for use?

More recently, McIntyre told the Associated Press that Mr. Gore had slightly misrepresented his breakdown of the average tax benefits in the Bush tax plan. Gore said a typical taxpayer would get 62 cents a day from the Bush cuts. Actually, it is $1.25.

Gore had used the number for those in the bottom 60 percent of the income ladder. This group includes a lot of poor people who pay little or no taxes, and thus are not "typical" or average. The $1.25 figure is for those in the middle fifth of the income spread.

In this case, the Bush campaign selected the misrepresentation squib. They are striving to show that Gore is misleading.

Bush flacks don't highlight the McIntyre calculation that $1 trillion of the $1.3 trillion of tax cuts over 10 years in the Bush plan go to those making $100,000 a year or more.

The Bush campaign has just come out with a 16-page booklet, "Blueprint for the Middle Class," which says the Bush plan would greatly benefit the middle class.

Peter Orszag, a University of California at Berkeley economist, says such "Bush rhetoric" is not valid, that his plan does little for those with middle or lower incomes. …

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