Sunday, July 20, 2003

The Truth has been preempted

I'm generally a fan of Tim Russert, he's usually a pretty good bull-dog interrogator. Except this morning. He really let Denny Hastert slide (and in the process slime). Here's an excerpt of the transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: Two issues that are now front and center before the Republican leadership in the House: The first is the expansion of the child tax credit. Americans making between $10,000 and $25,000, about 12 million kids, would not receive an increase in the tax credit under the current tax legislation. The Senate has taken steps to correct that. It’s now before the House. Will you support expanding the child tax credit?
REP. HASTERT: Well, first of all, Tim, a family of four, two children, two working parents, have to earn almost $40,000 before they pay any taxes, so for a tax credit, otherwise getting money back for taxes that you pay just doesn’t exist. What we wanted to do is said if we’re going to do that—and, incidentally, the bill that came out of the Senate was a temporary, it only did it before 2005 and it ended. We said extend that if you’re going to do it, but also take it to working families where you might have a teacher and a fireman and they’re earning $130,000 a year, and they ought to get it, too.
MR. RUSSERT: But you’re...
REP. HASTERT: But the Senate said no.
MR. RUSSERT: Well, you’re adding about $80 billion more in other tax cuts.
REP. HASTERT: Absolutely.
MR. RUSSERT: Why not just take care...
REP. HASTERT: Well, if...
MR. RUSSERT: ...why not just take care of these Americans between $10,000 and $25,000, 11 million kids? Would...
REP. HASTERT: Because, first of all, they don’t pay taxes, and they are getting a tax credit even when they don’t pay taxes. The second part, what about other Americans that are actually working and paying taxes? They ought to have the same benefit.

Russert never calls Hastert on the sliming claim that families "have to earn almost $40,000 before they pay any taxes." In general, a mom, dad, and 2 kids would need that much income to pay federal income taxes. But that's hardly the same thing as not paying anything in taxes. Additionally, how many of the 12 million kids hurt by the Republicans fit into exactly that scenario. Finally, those kids families are GETTING THE TAX CREDIT. What are they even doing in the discussion?

Second, and this is where Russert really drops the ball in my opinion, is Hastert's claim that, "the bill that came out of the Senate was a temporary, it only did it before 2005 and it ended." Why would the Senate only provide the tax credit for 2003 and 2004? Might they have a rationale? In fact they do. As the law currently stands, those families excluded under the 2003 tax cut will receive the increase child tax credit as part of the provisions of Bush's 2001 tax cut. The expanded child tax credit in the 2003 tax law is an acceleration of provisions in the 2001 act (making 2003 instead of 2005 the effective date). The Senate bill only needs to cover this year and next... after that existing law (enacted by the Republicans themselves) carries the ball. The child tax credit for the poor fight is about the Republicans singling out America's most vulnerable for disparate treatment- making those least in a position to wait for additional income to wait while speeding along a raise to those with greater resources to start with. That's the modern Republican party.

And please ignore the dodge that since they don't pay taxes, they shouldn't receive a credit. If this were their principled position, they should have either never enacted such a provision in the 2001 act or be planning to repeal that provision prior to its 2005 sunrise.

But Russert just lets this slide, as if it had some serious resemblance to reality. Disappointing.


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