NPR Fails to Tell the Complete Story on Taxes
National Public Radio’s Chris Arnold covered the Tax Day Tea Party protest in Boston last week, and challenged one of the organizers by repeating the White House talking point that the president had cut taxes for a majority of the country. Here’s a part of the transcript:
The Greater Boston Tea Party is planning a modern-day demonstration. The president of the group, Christen Varley, says that a year ago she was a housewife who decided to get involved in politics….
When it comes to taxes, the Obama administration has actually cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans through a federal income tax credit. But Varley [a tea party activist] says she doesn’t believe that — no matter what the government says. And regardless, she says she’s worried about what’s to come with the rising deficit.
Arnold is referring partially to Obama’s pledge that anyone making under $250,000 will not face “any form of tax increase” under his plan. While the NPR reporter is right about the federal income tax credit, he did not mention any of the other kinds of Obama era tax increases that do affect “95 percent of Americans.” As tax policy expert Ryan Ellis reports, taxes may have gone down for some in certain areas, but they are going nowhere but up everywhere else. Courtesy of Ellis, here’s a list of tax hikes the president has signed into law so far, all of which do not stop at the top five percent:
- a hike in the tobacco tax
- a new tax on individuals not purchasing and employers not providing “qualifying” health insurance
- a 40% excise tax on high-cost health insurance plans
- a new “medicine cabinet tax” on over-the-counter purchases from HSAs, FSAs, and HRAs
- increasing the non-medical early withdrawal HSA penalty from 10 to 20 percent
- a “special-needs kids” tax (capping FSA contributions at $2500)
- an increase in the top Medicare payroll tax rate from 2.9 to 3.8 percent (in so doing raising the top marginal tax rate on labor from 37.9 to 43.4 percent)
- a hike in the capital gains rate from 15 to 23.8 percent
- a hike in the dividends tax rate from 15 to 43.4 percent
- a hike in the “other” investment tax rate from 35 to 43.4 percent
- an increase in the “reduction of the deduction” for medical expenses from 7.5 to 10 percent of AGI
- new annual taxes on health insurance companies, innovator drug companies, and medical device manufacturers
- a 10% excise tax for tanning salon sessions
- eliminating the deduction for employer-provided retiree Rx coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D
- creating the “economic substance doctrine,” which allows the IRS to disallow perfectly-legal tax deductions it deems are only being used to reduce tax liabilities
- requiring 1099-MISC information reporting for small business payments to corporations, increasing compliance burdens for small employers
Instead of brushing off Varley’s skepticism that taxes were actually dropping, (”no matter what the government says”) perhaps Arnold should have told the broader story and looked into the reasons why she holds those views.