Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Score One for Real Journalism

David Leonhardt's "Economic Scene" column debunking the 47% of Americans Pay No Taxes The Leeches!!?! talking point that's been making the rounds of the right-wing cable/radio/blogosphere has itself been making the rounds today (h/t Michael Tomasky and The Daily Howler)—and that's a very good thing. It turns out that even for just federal taxes, that 47% figure is nonsense; Leonhardt agrees that, thanks to the economic downturn and the stimulus programs pushed by both Bush II and Obama, 47% of households receive enough credits to have no federal income tax liability, but when you factor in other federal taxes—e.g., payroll taxes and capital gains taxes—that number is more like 10%. And this doesn't even count state taxes, local taxes, sales taxes, etc.

So: When you hear someone claim that almost half of Americans pay no taxes and are leeching off the hardworking other half, the person telling you this is either trying to spread their own ignorance or lying to you. I leave it to you decide which is most likely in the case of the well-compensated "journalists" and "commentators" on Fox.

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