AP’s Ohlemacher Describes ‘Gang of Six’ Document As a ‘Plan’ 12 Times (Update: If CBO Won’t Score a Speech, It Sure Can’t Score This)
It really is a “plan,” and don’t you forget it.
Never mind, as the Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll inconveniently points out, that the document produced by the “Gang of Six” — Republican Senators Coburn, Chambliss, and Crapo, along with Democratic Senators Conrad, Warner, and Durbin — is all of five pages. If you take out the white space, it’s about 3-1/2.
Early this evening, the Associated Press’s Stephen Ohlemacher called the output of the Gang of Six a “plan” no fewer than 12 times — and his report’s headline was “Bipartisan tax plan trims mortgage deduction.” Okay, Steve, even though you (and the Gang) are obviously wrong, we get it.
A “plan” — at least one that is supposed to lead to legislation — is supposed to be “a detailed scheme, method, etc., for attaining an objective.” The roughly 1,050 words in the AP writer’s report is not that much shorter than the Gang of Six’s almost 1,600-word “plan.” Ohlemacher himself cites the document’s lack of specifics or details in some manner about a half-dozen times. Sorry, Steve: The Gang of Six document is not a “plan” in any meaningful sense of the word, and their calling it a “plan” doesn’t change that reality.
But give Ohlemacher and AP credit in one area: While the Gang of Six claims that “If CBO scored this plan, it would find net tax relief of approximately $1.5 trillion,” the wire service’s coverage reveals that taxes would instead increase by almost as much or possibly more.
Here are several paragraphs from Ohlemacher’s effort (bolds are mine). Note the class warfare hit in the final bolded item:
A new bipartisan plan to reduce government borrowing would target some of the most cherished tax breaks enjoyed by millions of families – those promoting health insurance, home ownership, charitable giving and retirement savings – in exchange for lowering overall tax rates for everyone.
Many taxpayers would face higher taxes – a total of at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade, and perhaps more.
… For its part, the Gang of Six plan punts on many of the most difficult issues, leaving it to congressional committees to fill in the details later. But supporters say it provides a framework to simplify the tax code, making it easier for businesses and individuals to comply while eliminating incentives to game the system.
… The Republican staff of the House Budget Committee issued a critique saying the revenue increase could exceed $2 trillion over the next decade, when compared with current tax policy.
“A tax increase is the wrong policy to pursue with so many Americans out of work,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.
The plan would simplify the tax code by reducing the number of tax brackets from six to three, lowering the top rate from 35 percent to somewhere between 23 percent and 29 percent. That could provide a windfall for wealthy taxpayers because the 35 percent tax bracket currently applies to taxable income above $379,150.
Geez, Steve, higher-income people (who may or may not be “wealthy”) would lose all kinds of deductions, but might still get “windfalls.” In some cases, sure, but to present it as if it’s a likelihood for most, which is definitely implied, is sheer speculation which is in my estimation backed up by little or no investigation.
The Examiner’s Carroll points to the Gang of Six document’s absurd assumption that the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body will actually “find” (that’s the document’s actual word) massive amounts of spending to cut as anticipated:
The Armed Services Committee is then charged with finding $80 billion in cuts, Homeland Security $65 billion, Agriculture $11 billion, Energy $6 billion, and Commerce $11 billion. All this budgeting from Democratically controlled committees that haven’t produced a budget in over 800 days!!!
Indeed. What a joke. Without specifics, this isn’t a plan, it’s just a bunch of nice intentions at best, or deliberate deceptions at worst, which will never materialize.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.
BizzyBlog Update: The whole idea that these guys think that the Congressional Budget Office can “score” anything based on what they’ve produced so far is absurd. Several weeks ago, CBO’s Doug Elmendorf politely informed a congressional committee that “We don’t estimate speeches.” The Gang of Six document is no better than a speech.