We hear a lot about fake news these days. I suggest that this article qualifies.
Put aside one’s views on tax rates. (Bear in mind, mine lean left/liberal.) That NPR article very obviously pushes a narrative that it is pure propaganda. To cherry-pick numbers and twist facts is, I’m sorry, fake news.
The “fact” the article is pushing is that “tax rates on the rich are lower today than in the past.” The format is a survey showing how misinformed people are today, because most think the opposite is true.
They compare today’s rates to 1980. Now, if you have as much gray in your hair as I do, you know that 1980 was the year Reagan was elected, and that rates declined during his presidency. So choosing 1980 is vastly different from 1988. They are forcing people to define “the past” as 1980, when for many people the idea of the past might be 1988 or even 1998. Or 2008, for that matter.
Even with 1982, there is a major difference. Capital gains rates, compared to today, were higher in 1980, but lower in 1982.
Anyway, I don’t want to write a novel, so I’ll just sum up by saying, had they shifted the start date by just a few years, the stupid, ignorant, misinformed populace would have been very much correct. People hear 1980 and they think the 80’s and Reagan and low rates, but 1980 was still Carter, and Reagan took several years to implement his policy of lower taxes.
(Amusingly, the author discusses the cruciality of wording in reference to the estate/death tax.)
So the public is uninformed only if you trick them by cherry-picking your compare date. And, by the way, during the 90’s– which is 25 years in the past — the capital gains rates actually were much, much lower.
Anyway, the entire article is a scam, basically. If you want further proof, I was tricked by the following comment:
About half of the poll’s respondents (with very little variance by party) said they believe 75 percent of the federal government’s revenue comes from personal income taxes. In reality, it’s just under half.
I thought, Gee, we must get more from business and gas tax and the like than I thought. I followed the link. Uh, no. They counted FICA (social security) as an on-budget tax and expenditure. If you count SS as part of the general budget, why wouldn’t you count FICA as part of the general income tax? Corporate taxes and things like the gas tax add up to only 20 percent of the total.
Oh, I almost forgot. The question they asked was idiotic. True or false:
The highest earners pay a significantly higher share of federal income taxes than they did in 1980.
Three things: 1980 was cherry-picked, as discussed above. Then “highest earners” is undefined. Does it mean the top 1%? The top 50%? We have no idea. And then “significantly higher.” Significant? Who is the Decider there?
I don’t want to spend all day writing this. It’s just that I hate such obvious lying, such obvious fake news, such obvious propaganda. They wish to push two faux facts. (1) Taxes “in the past” were higher on the “highest earners” (whatever the hell that means) than they are now. Therefore, one is expected to conclude, they don’t need to be cut now. (2) Income taxes aren’t that critical a component of the budget, anyway. Which, one presumes, is pushing the idea that income tax rates aren’t high enough to pull their weight. Or something.
What’s particularly galling to me is that I favor raising tax rates, not lowering them — if one insists on making a change at this time. But the author of this piece pushes an unfounded narrative to such extremes it turns into a lie. That’s simply unacceptable.
Fake news, no two ways about it.
Oh, let me not forget the biggest propagandic point: Don’t you believe what your fellow citizens — or another news outlet — might tell you. Why, see how uninformed they are! You just keep on trusting us. If someone raises an inconvenient truth, why we’ll come up with a narrative to let your ignore it! We’ll do your “fact checking” for you!