Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Is This Journalism? I Say No

The title of the post refers to this article by Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor, "Huge Tax Increase Looms at Year-End 'Fiscal Cliff.'"  The purpose of the article seems to be to report on the findings of a study released yesterday by the Tax Policy Center, "Toppling Off the Fiscal Cliff: Whose Taxes Rise and How Much?"  The study is worth your time.  The article is not.

I am wondering whether it is standard practice in schools of journalism to encourage this style of writing (emphasis added):

Taxpayers across the income spectrum will get slammed with increases totaling more than $500 billion — a more than 20 percent increase — with nine out of 10 households being affected by the expiration of tax cuts enacted under both President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush.


Monday's study, by the independent Tax Policy Center, deals with the immediate increases set to slap taxpayers in January under the existing framework of the tax code.


Few are talking of renewing Obama's payroll tax cut, even though that would mean a healthy tax increase for many working people. Working families with modest incomes would be hit hard as the child tax credit would shrink from a maximum of $1,000 per child to $500.

The world is complicated enough without reporters using violent language to describe non-violent events.  Running deficits in perpetuity is not a civil right.  The simple facts of the matter are that for over a decade, policy makers have been able to agree only on ways to lower tax revenues through the income and payroll tax systems, not on how to raise them.  They chose to do so by enacting temporary measures.  The failure of the anything-but-super committee to accomplish its objectives has brought this poor style of policy making to defense expenditures as well.   Many of these measures would not have passed if they had been described as permanent from the beginning.  In eight years of blogging, I have never defended this last decade of fiscal policy.

So what is looming is simply a reversion back to an older tax code.  We should let that reversion happen, as dictated by prior legislation.  Starting from that new baseline, we can ask the question of what productive uses of deficit spending we might have available.  The answer is the same now as it was nearly five years ago.

1 comment:

Rich T. said...

Journalists are taught to use the most active/dynamic verbs possible. This is sad, but totally understandable.