Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

I’ve grown fairly accustomed to seeing the mainstream media misreport on a story for their own purposes, but this example by MSNBC regarding Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan was just to blatant to not comment on:

“The poor would pay more while the rich would have their taxes cut, with no guarantee that economic growth will increase and good reason to believe that the budget deficit will increase” Bartlett recently wrote in the New York Times. “Even allowing for the poorly thought through promises routinely made on the campaign trail, Mr. Cain’s tax plan stands out as exceptionally ill conceived.

The reason the plan would hit poor people much harder that the wealthy is also simple. The current tax code provides a series of deductions, credits and exemptions that ease the tax burden on all households, but they have a greater positive impact those at the bottom of the income ladder. As a result, some 38 percent of U.S. households pay little or no income taxes. They would now suddenly be hit with what amounts to a tax bill that represents 27 percent of their income, according to USC law professor Edward Kleinbard, who published a paper this week calling the 9-9-9 plan “a terrific example of fiscal hocus pocus.”

MSNBC has no problem writing using and linking to a 2008 study that says that 38% of US households pay little or no income tax, but seems unable to click on the “[this table has been updated, click here]” link on that very same page to get to the current 2011 version that shows that number to now be 46.5%. Just lazy, or intentionally misleading?

And then they quote a USC professor that those people would suddenly be hit with a tax bill for 27% of their income, which is simply incorrect, and they don’t even bother to analyze it. Cain’s plan calls for 9% income tax, 9% business tax, and 9% sales tax. They will pay the 9% income tax, but since these people are not businesses the 9% business tax will not apply to them. And the 9% sales tax will only be paid on items they purchase, not on all of their income. So that tax isn’t 27%; it is clearly under %18. Yes an increase, but clearly not as stated.

I’m not commenting on how effective Cain’s plan would be, but MSNBC has already decided they don’t like it, and either through intent or simple laziness, they can’t be bothered to do the basic work of presenting useful information to the reader.

Remember the days when journalists did the hard work of uncovering and reporting on the facts to inform the reader? Or did they ever?

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