Accuracy in Media

PolitiFact, as with much news-related fact-checking, often resorts to the picayune to pick sides unfairly.

And true to form, it offered nothing but chump change this week when it scored Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) assessment that Biden’s corporate tax increase would harm American competitiveness as only “half-true.”     

“Blunt has a point, but he left out some important wording,”  according to PolitiFact.

Blunt appeared on Fox News Sunday on April 4 and said that if Biden’s tax increase on corporate rates was passed that it would hurt America competitively because it would raise tax rates substantially over what other countries charge in corporate taxes. 

Under Trump, corporate tax rates went from 35 percent to 21 percent. Blunt claimed that the tax cut helped the US economy produce a record-low 3.5 percent unemployment rate, which many previously thought to be impossible.   

Comparing the corporate tax cut under Trump versus the proposed increase under Biden, Blunt told Fox’s Chris Wallace

“Remember, the corporate rate we did [under Trump] got us in the mid-level of the corporate [tax] rate for the countries around the world. If we went back to a 28 percent [corporate tax under Biden] we’d be, I think, number two in the world in corporate taxes.  Other countries saw the success we were having, and many other countries we compete with reduced their corporate rates to try to keep their jobs at home.” 

 

PolitiFact reported, however, that if the Biden tax plan is passed, the U.S. will still have a lower tax rate than 19 other small countries, none of which the U.S. competes with for jobs. The list included Comoros (corporate tax rate of 50 percent), Suriname (36 percent), Kiribati (35 percent) and other similar small countries. The largest economy on the list is Brazil (34 percent).

When speaking on Fox, Blunt was clearly estimating where the U.S. would rank amongst countries the U.S. competes against for jobs if Biden’s tax plan passed. Clearly, too, the main point was that it would hurt the American workers most through lost jobs.    

When he said “we’d be, I think, number two in the world in corporate taxes,” he was also clearly speaking off the top of his head, not meaning to calculate it exactly. 

In fact, the U.S. would have the top spot in corporate taxes among developed nations against which the U.S. competes for jobs — if the Biden plan passes, with a 32.34 percent corporate tax rate if adding in state taxes, according to PolitiFact. 

The closest competitor would be Portugal at 31.5 percent. 

The PolitiFact “fact-check” of Blunt’s Fox appearance here is a prime example of how fact-checking has outlived its usefulness. 

Instead of concentrating on broad arguments that can highlight diverse opinions to make government better, Politifact tried to undercut Blunt’s argument that high corporate taxes hurt American workers. 

It seems that if PolitiFact has a point, it left out some important wording.  




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