I know Sarah Palin’s supporters don’t give a rip about facts, details or being right, but Palin sure is wrong a lot.
The former half-term governor of Alaska has put her proverbial foot in her mouth again. PolitiFact.com fact-checked her recent statement that “Democrats are poised now to cause this largest tax increase in US history.” They gave her a “Pants on Fire” rating – meaning liar liar pants on fire.
Obviously Palin lashed out at being called a liar. On her Facebook page she said, “Yesterday, PolitiFact.com fact-checked my statement about the coming $3.8 trillion Obama tax hike – the largest tax increase in history. They did such a bad job of it, however, that I feel compelled to fact-check the fact-checkers.”
Go on Mrs. Palin, fact-check your little heart out.
According to her “analysis,” Democrats have failed to put forward any plan to deal with Bush’s tax cuts, which are set to expire if Congress doesn’t renew them. Tax cuts? Tax hikes? You say potato – I say po-tah-toe. She’s correct that if Congress doesn’t do anything, the tax cuts will expire, but she’s wrong that Democrats don’t have a plan to do with them – she either doesn’t like it, or she doesn’t know about it.
“In fact,” PolitiFact responded, “Democrats have repeatedly stated they only intend to let lower tax rates expire for individuals making more than $200,000 or couples making more than $250,000. And that’s nowhere near the largest tax increase in history, as we noted in our rating.”
That’s not how Palin sees it.
“Unfortunately for PolitiFact, no such proposal exists. … Plan? What plan?,” Palin moans. “There is no plan. All we have is smoke and mirrors based on an old Obama campaign pledge that if elected, he would exempt families making less than $250,000 a year from ‘any form of tax increases.’ …
“To prevent PolitiFact from making similar mistakes in future, it would be helpful if the White House and the Democratic Congressional leadership finally mustered the courage to table their plans to let the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire. Mr. President, publish your proposals, and we’ll duke it out. You can argue in favor of a multi-trillion dollar tax hike in an age of economic uncertainty and mass unemployment, and we’ll argue for fiscal sanity combined with serious spending cuts. I for one look forward to such a debate.”
But PolitiFact says that Obama has indeed put forth a rather detailed plan on how to deal with the expiring Bush tax cuts. The president has addressed the issue at least twice in the annual budget documents that the White House releases.
PolitiFact can take it from here, but the bottom-line is that Palin needs to do her homework before she shoots her mouth off, this isn’t high school debate class, she needs to actually do some research or she’s going to keep looking like a fool.
The president’s 2011 budget, for example, says on page 39, “Allow the Bush Tax Cuts for Households Earning More Than $250,000 to Expire.”
“In the last Administration, those at the very top enjoyed large tax breaks and income gains while almost everyone else struggled and real income for the middle class declined. Our Nation cannot afford to continue these tax cuts, which is why the President supports allowing those tax cuts that affect families earning more than $250,000 a year to expire and committing these resources to reducing the deficit instead. This step will have no effect on the 98 percent of all households who make less than $250,000.”
Lest you think that’s too general and vague, there are detailed estimates in the budget summary tables, starting on page 164, for provisions such as, “Upper-income tax provisions devoted to deficit reduction: Expand the 28-percent rate and reinstate the 36-percent and 39.6-percent rates for those taxpayers with income over $250,000 (married) and $200,000 (single) … Reinstate the personal exemption phaseout and limitation on itemized deductions for those taxpayers with income over $250,000 (married) and $200,000 (single) … Impose 20-percent tax rate on capital gains and dividends for those taxpayers with income over $250,000 (married) and $200,000 (single).”
In Congress, key Democratic leaders have indicated they are using the plan outlined in the federal budget as the framework for their legislation. The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on dealing with the expiring tax cuts. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the committee’s chair, said in a July 14, 2010, statement, “I support extending the middle-class tax cuts permanently, as soon as possible, so working families can keep more of their hard-earned money.”
The committee released a budget analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation, “Estimated Effects on Economic Growth and Distribution.” That document showed estimates for the cost to make the Bush tax cuts permanent for those who are now taxed at rates of 10 percent, 25 percent, 28 percent, “and part of the 33%.” That 33 percent tax bracket, by the way, includes taxpayers who make slightly below and slightly above the benchmarks Obama described.
And then there’s also the U.S. Treasury Department’s “General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2011 Revenue Proposals,” known by policy wonks as “the green book.” It outlines in even more detail how the Obama administration plans to increase taxes for high-earners and keep the current rates for everyone else.
“It is very much an official statement of policy. It’s what they propose to do,” said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow with the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. “Obviously, Congress will do or won’t do what it will. But I have heard no one on the Hill saying we should let everything expire.”
News coverage from other publications from The Wall Street Journal to our fellow fact-checkers at Factcheck.org have also noted the Democratic proposals and ideas on these issues.
“The Democrats’ plan seems to me to be quite explicit: keep the tax cuts for those under $250,000 and let those for the rich expire,” said Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, and a longtime watcher of Congress. “Does that mean never, ever taxing the under-$250 (thousand) populace? No. But it is a straightforward policy plan.”