In CNN’s “Biden’s stimulus delivered a bigger tax cut to lower-income Americans than the 2017 GOP reform, report shows,” the cable news outlet used legerdemain, under the guise of reporting on a new government study, to favorably compare the tax benefits of the Biden stimulus legislation with GOP tax policy from 2017, concluding that Biden, of course, is much nicer to the middle class and poor people.
CNN managed the feat by counting Biden stimulus payments as “tax cuts” while failing to account for Trump stimulus payments from 2020 in the comparison, concluding that “Taxpayers earning less than $75,000 annually will pay no tax, on average, in 2021, thanks to a multitude of provisions in the American Rescue Plan.”
In fact, the report from the Joint Committee on Taxation, which CNN apparently relied on, says that the individual income tax rate for earners between $40,000 and $86,000 is slightly higher under Biden.
But as CNN admitted later, “Much of the reduction for the lower- and moderate income groups comes [in 2021] from the stimulus payments contained in the Democrats’ rescue package passed in March, which were technically advance tax credits.”
If one called 2020 stimulus payment under Trump “advance tax credits” for 2020, the comparison would be different.
As such, CNN dishonestly compares the Biden stimulus plan (aka American Rescue Plan) from earlier this year to the 2017 GOP tax cuts — two completely different laws with different purposes.
The Biden stimulus proposal was meant to provide temporary relief from the effects of the pandemic. The 2017 Trump tax law was used as a mechanism for raising government revenue.
And while CNN admits the tax benefits from the Biden plan are only temporary, the piece is clearly meant to slap at GOP tax policy, while giving an edge to Biden.
CNN writers also mistakenly referred to the Joint Committee on Taxation as “a non-partisan group that assists Congress with tax legislation,” giving the impression that the information in a new report came from a private academic group, rather than a committee of Congress tasked with studying tax policy.
Further, CNN provided no link to the new report.
The Joint Committee responded to our email inquiry with a report issued several weeks ago that included an appendix of tax revenues by income. That report affirmed that in 2021 it is estimated that taxpayers with less than $75,000 of income will pay no taxes generally in 2021.
The 2020 version of the report, which estimates tax revenues each year, did not break down tax revenues by individual income.
Nor did the CNN piece include provisions like the Paycheck Protection Program, passed under Trump, that made sure workers had income on which they could pay taxes.
The CNN piece apparently was written to attack GOP tax reform from 2017 and ready the field for another round of liberal tax increases.
The Biden plan also heavily used tax credits, which show up on tax returns, versus the direct stimulus payments which were favored by the GOP in 2020 and don’t show up on tax returns.
The Biden plan paid decreasing stimulus benefits to those taxpayers making more than $75,000 per year, so of course, statistically speaking, the Biden plan will deliver more money to those making less than $75,000 per year.
In short, CNN is trying to support Biden by comparing his stimulus plan with the GOP tax plan, while ignoring Trump’s stimulus measures.
In a highly technical subject, next time CNN should use writers who at least know what the Joint Committee on Taxation is.