How do you plan to pay for those tax cuts?

from Media Matters
Jamison Foser writes:

. . . fewer than four percent of U.S. households have annual incomes of $200,000 or more. The median household income is less than $50,000, and the mean is $65,000.
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Charlie Gibson reportedly makes $8 million a year and is paid less than his counterparts at CBS and NBC. Might that have something to do with his lack of perspective? How could it not?

Charlie Gibson would see his taxes go up under the Democrats' plan. So would Wolf Blitzer. And, coincidentally, they suggest that their viewers' taxes would go up, too-- even though for the vast majority of viewers, that isn't true.

When the Republicans debate and promise to make Bush's tax cuts permanent and cut various other taxes, the star reporters who moderate those debates rarely ask the GOP candidates a simple question: What government services would you cut to pay for those tax cuts?

The double standard is so glaring, it's hard not to wonder if it has something to do with the fact that, while Charlie Gibson would likely see his taxes go up under the Democrats' plans and down under the Republicans', he probably already has health insurance. Whatever programs the Republicans would cut to pay for tax cuts for rich people like Charlie Gibson probably won't directly affect rich people like Charlie Gibson.

Over the past year, as journalists mocked John Edwards for getting an expensive haircut and having a big house, they constantly justified their behavior by claiming Edwards is a "hypocrite" for being rich while pursuing policies that would help those who aren't. This is total nonsense, of course. As an Altercation reader noted this week, asking how Edwards can care about the poor while being rich is like asking a doctor: "How can you care about sick people when you're so healthy?"

And yet, again and again, journalists justified their relentless focus on Edwards' wealth by pointing to his policy positions.

And they ignore-- absolutely ignore-- the personal wealth of conservative candidates who pursue policies that would line their own pockets.

For all the news reports you saw about Edwards' supposed hypocrisy, how many have you seen that tell you how big a tax cut Mitt Romney or John McCain or Rudy Giuliani-- wealthy men all-- would get if their policies became law? Probably somewhere around "none."

This is not merely an obvious double-standard; it's a completely backwards double-standard: one that rewards politicians who pursue policies that are consistent with their narrow self-interest at the expense of the greater good; one that penalizes politicians who act out of concern for the greater good rather than narrow self-interest.

It's a media double-standard that greatly undermined Edwards' presidential campaign. And it continues to undermine progressive economic policies. It continues to play out in debates and interviews and news reports. Conservative proponents of tax cuts that primarily benefit the rich are not asked how they would pay for those tax cuts. Progressive proponents of universal health care are accused of planning to raise taxes broadly, even after they specifically say that they would only repeal tax cuts for those making more than $200,000 or $250,000.

When media coverage of economic issues is so skewed in favor of conservative candidates and policies that favor the wealthy, it's hard not to wonder how much someone like Charlie Gibson would benefit from those policies.


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