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Tax Increases and Do They Ever Fire Headline Writers?

Sunday, 03 July 2011 23:01

The headline of the NYT story told readers:

"2 Republicans Open Door to Increases in Revenue." 

However, the second paragraph of the article said:

"One of the senators, John Cornyn of Texas, said he would consider eliminating some tax breaks and corporate subsidies in the context of changes in the tax code, provided there was not an overall increase in taxes."

Okay folks, "not an overall increase in revenue" directly contradicts "increases in revenue."

What the hell is so hard to understand about this? Cornyn said that he would be willing to redistribute the tax burden, he explicitly said that he is not open to increasing revenue. How can the NYT headline say something 180 degrees at odds with reality?

In fairness to the headline writer, the first sentence of the article commits the same error by telling readers:

"Two senior Republicans said Sunday that they might be open to raising new government revenue as part of a deal to resolve the dispute over the federal debt ceiling."

It is not clear who deserves the blame here, but this NYT article managed to turn reality on its head.

Comments (5)Add Comment
written by Brett, July 04, 2011 1:02
It should be mandatory for any newspaper article that includes anything about John Cornyn to note that he knows absolutely nothing about economics. This is a guy who consistently fear mongered leading up to the extension of the Bush tax cuts -- counting down on twitter the # of "days until the biggest tax increase in the history of the United States" and now he's professing to be worried about the deficit. Well we have a deficit in large measure because all Republicans want to do is cut taxes.
Reporters Report, Reporters Don't Question
written by JL, July 04, 2011 1:06

They are paid to report so as long as people don't start saying the Earth is flat or NY Yankees are the best team, then they just report.

Reporters are under extreme deadline pressure and need to spend some of their six-digit salary so obviously no time to think whether the info makes logical sense.

For that matter, even their editors don't have the time to do it.
No Free Lunch, No Free Tax Revenue
written by izzatzo, July 04, 2011 5:58
Finally an honest politician like Cornyn admits that tax cuts don't pay for themselves, consistent in reverse with tax increases that bring in more revenue rather than less for those paying the higher tax and vice versa for those paying less tax.

Baker bashes the plan because it's zero sum, designed to reduce taxes for others in order to keep total tax revenue constant. Baker would have bashed it as well as a voodoo tax if it was a positive sum tax reduction designed to bring in more total revenue.

Can't win for losing.

Stupid liberals.
written by diesel, July 04, 2011 9:34
As long as the message is inconsistent, defies rational analysis, confounds the senses and leaves the intelligent reader sputtering with exasperation and feeling just generally bereft, then the newspapers may be said to have performed their function fairly well.

Maybe izzatzo is right after all. We're stupid liberals for expecting or hoping for anything different.
written by Jeffrey Stewart, July 04, 2011 9:43
That article was for headline readers only, i.e., the TEA Baggers.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.