A PolitiFact fact-check of President Trump’s campaign launch last week in Orlando that was run in newspapers nationwide went horribly, embarrassingly, laughably wrong on the one count in which they ruled Trump was “wrong.”
PolitiFact did their usual number after Trump’s speech, supposedly fact-checking the President. In it, there are assumptions made that highlight the normal bias.
But the only fact-checked statement these intrepid journalists ruled as “wrong” — they got totally wrong.
Here’s what PolitiFact wrote that Trump got wrong:
(We passed) “the biggest tax cut in history.”
Trump often repeats this point, but three tax cuts were larger. In inflation-corrected dollars, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 cut $321 billion per year. The Tax Relief Act of 2010 cut them by $210 billion per year. And the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 reduced taxes by $208 billion a year.
The 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act cut taxes by $150 billion a year.
You, like me, might be shocked to find out that Obama signed much larger tax cuts during his administration. Twice! Seems like that would have been pretty big news — and pretty out of character. But a quick google of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 finds the details at Investopedia.
The truth? Neither was a tax cut.
They were both a continuation of the Bush tax cuts that were set to expire. So if they had expired and the tax rates reverted to their higher levels, it would have been a tax increase. But they did not. This supposed “tax cut” actually did nothing more than keep taxes at the exact same level as they were.
Maintaining tax rates at the same rate is definitionally not a tax cut. Unless, that is, you are simply trying to make the President look like he was wrong.
Further, this supposed “tax cut” that is the American Taxpayer Relief Act actually raised taxes.
ATRA’s passage prevented the expiration of most of the major tax cuts enacted between 2001 and 2010. It made permanent the tax savings included in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. ATRA extended through 2017 the tax cuts built into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009. Along with these extended tax cuts, ATRA raised payroll taxes for many Americans and reversed cuts for the highest earners that had been passed with the support of the George W. Bush administration.
Well, what about The Tax Relief Act of 2010, which cut taxes by $210 billion per year as PolitiFact’s claims?
Nope. Same thing. According to Wikipedia, it extended the tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 for two years.
The Act centers on a temporary, two-year reprieve from the sunset provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA), together known as the “Bush tax cuts.” Income taxes would have returned to Clinton administration-era rates in 2011 had Congress not passed this law.
So this “tax cut” also merely kept the Bush tax cuts in place for two years. It did not cut taxes. In fact, this mere two-year reprieve of the taxes being increased is what led to the 2012 one above.
Both of them kept rates the same. They did not cut taxes.
The Reagan tax cuts might have been higher, it’s hard to find firm, inflation-adjusted numbers there. But the last line in Politifact has the most interesting twist.
Did the Trump tax cuts actually only cut $150 billion? I could not find that number and PolitiFact did not cite it or provide a link — which is pretty sloppy for a fact-checking outfit. I did, however, find plenty of much higher numbers by liberal outfits painting the picture of how irresponsible the tax cuts were.
One of those, the Tax Policy Center, said the tax cuts amounted to $275 billion — much more than expected. Of course, they were making the case then that the tax cuts were not paying for themselves as the GOP had promised, so the much higher number was convenient for that.
So it looks like on every, single element of their conclusion that Trump was wrong on the tax cuts, they were wrong.
But we should totally trust Politifact.
Rod Thomson is an author, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator, former journalist and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.
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