Accuracy in Media

President Trump will spend part of Tax Day in Minnesota trying to flip a state he almost won in 2020, but the Associated Press said the timing might not be so fortunate.

“Questions remain … about just how much he’s politically benefiting form his signature legislative accomplishment,” wrote Steve Karnowski of the Associated Press under the headline, “Trump using Tax Day visit to Minnesota to tout 2017 tax cuts.”

Minnesota hasn’t elected a Republican presidential candidate since Richard Nixon in 1972, Karnowski reported. But Trump came within 1.5 percent of carrying it in 2016 “thanks to his strength among rural voters,” and “I think he realizes Minnesota’s in play,” Karnowski quoted Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, the top Republican in the Minnesota state government, as saying.

Karnowski’s story includes a paragraph on the teleconference last Friday in which Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, in which Hassett told reporters the plan is “working exactly as its proponents predicted and that it quickly made the U.S. an attractive place to do business again, leading to increased hiring and higher wage growth” and that the tax cuts continue to provide “sustained, long-term nourishment for our economy.”

The rest is devoted to detractors.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a presidential candidate, “criticized Trump’s tax cuts, saying they added trillions of dollars to the nation’s debt and disproportionately helped the wealthy.” It then quotes her saying, “’That tax bill was a major missed opportunity. That tax bill should have been a bill that would have not only brought some taxes down for working people but also could have funded a major infrastructure investment.’”

AWall Street Journal poll cited in the piece shows that only 17 percent of Americans realize their taxes went down.

“So far Trump doesn’t appear to be getting a lot of credit for the tax changes,” Karnowski pointed out.

More evidence of this “came from a report by tax preparer H&R Block on Thursday” that said, “Americans are undergoing a ‘confusing tax experience’ this season” because tax liability fell 24.9 percent for taxpayers but refunds were “roughly flat at just 1.4 percent.”

“It was a pretty bad bill for Minnesota,” according to the minority leader of the Minnesota Senate. “He’s coming on the last day you can file – he’s coming here to try and put a smiley face on a real pig that Minnesota got handed.”

This has been a “frustrating season for many Minnesota taxpayers and preparers,” Karnowski wrote, because the legislature and former Gov. Mark Dayton could not agree on how to sync the state’s code with the federal changes, resulting in “extra paperwork and hassles in understanding the diverging rules.”

The president also must be careful when talking about trade in Minnesota, Karnowski reported.

“His tariffs on imported steel are popular among blue-collar workers in the state’s north, where the iron mining industry has seen a resurgence thanks to increased demand from domestic steelmakers. His mentions of steel tariffs drew loud cheers at a raucous campaign rally last year in Duluth, which is in northern Minnesota.

“But Trump’s trade war with China has depressed already low prices for some of southern Minnesota’s most important farm exports – soybeans and pork. Trump has strong support in Minnesota’s farm country, but continued low prices amid uncertainty about whether farmers can plant in time due to the wet spring will put that to the test.”

Karnowski did not note that in the first year of the Trump tax cuts, unemployment fell to 3.7 percent after being projected at 4.4 percent. Or that growth neared 3 percent, despite projections it would struggle to reach 2 percent. Or that average hourly wages are rising for the first time in 20 years or that unemployment is reaching 50-year lows for all workers and all-time lows for some minority groups.

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