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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Opposites Day II

Today is the real opposites day.  David Brooks and Bill Kristol ! said almost sensible things about the Romney 47% are moochers secret video (no links) and Ezra Klein ! made an erroneous claim of fact !

It has not been forgotten, because it didn't happen that way.  Some time ago I totally lost it for many long boring posts when Ed Kilgore made the same mistake.  Klein is much more unambiguously wrong, because he is precise and included the date 1996.

The amazing thing is that Klein himself provided the proof that his claim is incorrect.  He discussed the reasons 47% of families pay no Federal Income tax.  He noted the role of Republicans -- there are big jumps following the 1986 tax Bradley Kemp tax reform (so half Republican) which he inexplicably ascribes to Reagan (no big deal not my point) and of the 2001 Bush tax cuts.

But his graph shows that nothing much happened to the share paying no income taxes in 1996.

In fact the work encouraging tax breaks were expanded in 1993 by the Clinton tax increase for the rich plus 4.7% a gallon gas tax increase plus earned income tax credit (EITC) expansion.  The work encouraging tax break expansion passed with 0 Republican votes.

The 1996 welfare reform push did not include any work encouraging tax breaks (at least no significant ones).

In the post with the graph, Klein also cites Bush's 2003 tax cut even though there is no sign that it affected the fraction of families who pay income tax. His claim
"you see huge jumps after Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax reform and George W. Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts." is incorrect because of the words "and 2003,"  It is just an incorrect statement about the graph which he posted.  

Much less importantly, Reagan had a very passive role in the 1986 tax reform -- when there was a draft proposal, he was not aware that it included corporate income tax increases.   The proposal was made and pushed by the bipartisan team of Bill Bradley and Jack Kemp.  Also oddly Klein doesn't mention the ARRA making work pay tax cuts which explain part of the recent spike.   I am used to the fact that most US adults don't remember that the ARRA included major tax cuts, but I would expect Klein to mention that.  Notice the pattern -- Klein is trying to argue that Republicans used to support work encouraging tax cuts.    He's right about Jack Kemp but wrong about Gingrich and casually identifies Reagan with the whole US government.

But the main points are the two errors of fact  about 1996 and 2003.
I think Ezra Klein should correct his incorrect tweet and the mistake in his blog post.  Everyone makes mistakes (even Ezra Klein) but it is important to correct errors of fact.

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