What, The Times report: Yesterday, we discussed Paul Krugman’s new column, which called Paul Ryan’s budget proposal a fraud. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/2/12.
According to Krugman, Ryan’s proposal is “the most fraudulent budget in American history.” This was Krugman’s explanation of that remarkable charge:
KRUGMAN (4/2/12): [T]he Ryan budget purports to reduce the deficit—but the alleged deficit reduction depends on the completely unsupported assertion that trillions of dollars in revenue can be found by closing tax loopholes.Would Ryan be able to close enough loopholes to yield $700 billion in revenue every year? Could he even come close?
And we’re talking about a lot of loophole-closing. As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out, to make his numbers work Mr. Ryan would, by 2022, have to close enough loopholes to yield an extra $700 billion in revenue every year. That’s a lot of money, even in an economy as big as ours. So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?
None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That’s the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)
So what are we to make of this proposal? Mr. Gleckman calls it a “mystery meat budget,” but he’s being unfair to mystery meat.
By now, you’d think our major newspapers would have done some reporting on this topic. But if you thought that, you’d be wrong.
In fairness, the Washington Post did present this news report about a major congressional study of this general question. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service listed the size of all the tax breaks (tax loopholes, tax expenditures) on which Ryan might draw for new funds.
Those tax loopholes do cost the government more than $1 trillion per year. But as a realistic matter, how many of those loopholes could the Congress possibly close?
On a Saturday morning, on page A3, Lori Montgomery delivered the bad news in an informative news report:
MONTGOMERY (3/24/12): Just this week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled a 2013 budget blueprint that would lower the top income tax rate paid by the wealthiest households from 35 percent to 25 percent by wiping out "tax shelters" and "lobbyists' loopholes."Oops! Montgomery’s report includes more detail. In a more rational world, discussion of Ryan’s budget proposal would revolve around the information found in this report.
Such a sharp reduction in rates is theoretically possible, the CRS report says. Indeed, if Congress threw out every tax break that benefits U.S. households, federal tax collections could surge by more than $1 trillion a year. If all that money were returned to taxpayers in the form of lower rates, there would be more than enough cash to meet the GOP rate target without driving budget deficits higher.
But very little of that cash comes from special-interest tax shelters, the report says, noting that 90 percent of the money is lost to just 20 tax breaks that benefit millions of American families, such as the child credit and provisions for medical care and retirement savings.
"It appears unlikely that a significant fraction of this potential revenue could be realized," says the report by CRS analysts Jane Gravelle and Thomas Hungerford.
Montgomery’s report involves the info which lies behind Krugman’s column. But her report appeared on a Saturday morning, and it has generated little pundit discussion.
Meanwhile, the New York Times has done no news reporting on this topic. On March 23, Floyd Norris did offer this sprawling column in the paper’s Business Day section. Norris covered some of the same material treated in Montgomery’s report, although he didn’t mention the CRS report.
Just this Sunday, the Times published this editorial about Ryan’s budget. It includes the paper’s only reference to that congressional study.
But if you read the Times’ daily news reporting, you have seen no discussion of this very basic matter. You have seen no attempt to evaluate the claim that Republicans can “pay for” Ryan’s large tax cuts by wiping out tax loopholes.
On that same March 23, the Times did entertain us rubes with its standard assortment of silly piffle designed to pass for political news. Two examples:
The Times did publish this silly space-eater about political ads from past campaigns—political ads which didn’t get aired! It was accompanied by this front-page puddle of piddle—a report about the way Obama us currying favor by letting us know how much he loves Bo, his pet dog.
This is the type of stupid shit the New York Times pimps as political news. Just a guess: Very few of this newspaper’s readers understand the background to Krugman’s report. That isn’t how the Times rolls!
We live inside a very dumb political culture. Norris’ column contained a great deal of information. But people who read the Times’ news section may think they’re getting the day’s major news.
We’re sorry, but that isn’t so.
The Dowdism crept to their souls long ago. The Post hasn’t done enough on this topic. The Times has done that much less.