Friday, November 30, 2012

Dishonesty on Front Page of New York Times

The November 30, 2012 National (print) Edition of The New York Times' main front page story is titled "Complaints Aside, Most Face Lower Tax Burden Than in the Reagan '80s."

The story takes up a sixth of the first page and spans an additional full two and a third pages inside the paper. It is clearly meant to convey something major and that at the same time happens to provide support for the Obama Administration’s current efforts to raise taxes. Namely, the proposition that accepting Obama’s tax increases will still leave most people with lower taxes than they paid under Reagan.

Unfortunately, for The Times and its prodigious propaganda effort, throughout the article “the Reagan ‘80s” turn out to mean just the year 1980, which was not at all part of the Reagan ‘80s, but was the last year of the Carter Administration. (Reagan did not take office until January 20, 1981.)

Perhaps it will be the case that if Obama’s tax increases are enacted, the tax burden will still not be as great as it was under Carter. But that is certainly not a basis for claiming that it will not be greater than it was under Reagan, who sharply reduced the tax rates inherited from Carter. Nowhere in the vastness of its verbiage does The Times’ article bother to mention that under Reagan, the maximum surtax rate in the federal income tax was 28 percent, compared with today’s 35 percent, and which Obama wants to raise to almost 40 percent.

Interestingly, The Times may have already been told that its headline was blatantly dishonest. Its online version of the same article carries the title “Tax Burden Is Lower for Most Americans Than in the 1980s.” The Times apparently thinks that it can get away with its dishonesty simply by removing the reference to Reagan. But the article is still dishonest. Carter’s 1980 does not serve to describe Reagan’s 1981-1988.

Copyright 2012 by George Reisman. This article may be reproduced electronically provided this note is included in full. George Reisman, Ph.D., is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics, Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute, and the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996; Kindle Edition, 2012). He is also the author of The Government Against the Economy, Warren Buffett, Class Warfare, and the Exploitation Theory, and The Benevolent Nature of Capitalism and Other EssaysHis website is His blog is See his author’s central page.