… [I]t was particularly dismaying to read Mr. Appelbaum’s dispatch over the weekend in the Times, under the headline “Trump Tax Plan Will Not Bolster Growth, Economists Say.”
The Times news columns have been openly campaigning against Trump’s tax cuts, from the moment they were rolled out. The paper’s day one front page headline was “Tax Overhaul Would Aid Wealthiest.” Its day two headline was “Trump’s Plan Shifts Trillions To Wealthiest.”
Even by that low standard, though, the Appelbaum story was something to behold. It’s worth taking a careful look at as an example of the techniques that the press uses with the effect of distorting the debate about the tax cut.
The first ingredient is a headline that goes beyond what the story itself says. Buried in the penultimate paragraph of Appelbaum’s article are two estimates of how tax cuts might bolster growth. “The Tax Foundation thinks 0.4 percent is a reasonable estimate of the best case. Mr. Holtz-Eakin said that he regarded 0.5 percent as an upper bound on the potential benefits,” the story says.
It’s not clear whether these estimates are of any tax cuts or of President Trump’s tax cuts in particular. But the Tax Foundation blog carries an article that says just a cut in the corporate tax rate to 15% — without the individual rate cuts Mr. Trump is also proposing — would generate “something more like 0.4 percent over the budget window: a sustained period of 2.3 percent growth instead of 1.9 percent growth, until the economy is eventually about 4 percent larger.”
So the headline about “will not bolster growth” is inaccurate. The cuts would bolster growth, at least by some estimates, just not by the amount that Mr. Appelbaum has arbitrarily set up as a goalpost.