Here's what is not at all surprising: The New York Times editorial board being stacked with committed partisan leftists who oppose the GOP agenda. Here's what is quite surprising: The self-stylized "paper of record" abandoning all pretense of journalism, with said editorial board commandeering an official Times social media account to run an undisguised campaign of direct political activism against the GOP agenda. It's one thing for the Times to inveigh against Republican policies in editorials, or to publish an endless parade of op/eds echoing those same views. It's similarly not unusual for the Times to leverage social media to quote pieces and columns critical of President Trump or conservative proposals. It is another thing altogether -- and exceedingly unusual, if not unprecedented -- for an 'independent' media outlet like the Times to engage in actions like this, which do not even resemble journalism:
Contact @SenJohnMcCain and @JeffFlake, particularly if you live in Arizona, and tell them to oppose the tax bill: It would add more than $1.4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years without helping the middle class. #thetaxbillhurts— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) November 29, 2017
Flake: (202) 224-4521
McCain: (202) 224-2235 pic.twitter.com/PvXI1b3Xd4
Contact @SenatorCollins, (202) 224-2523, particularly if you live in Maine, and ask her to oppose the Senate tax bill because it would repeal Obamacare's individual mandate, driving up the cost of health insurance. #thetaxbillhurts pic.twitter.com/id69OJ4CPC— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) November 29, 2017
The editors also solicited stories from people who claim they'd be harmed by tax reform. Needless to say, I do not recall the Times asking Americans harmed by Obamacare to to tweet their experiences, nor did the newspaper publish Democrats' phone numbers while that bill was being debated. More to the point, neither did the Wall Street Journal, despite its strong editorial stance against the law. To be clear, what the Times did here is something other than opinion journalism; it's direct partisan agitation. My snarky twitter response to their "call your Senators" schtick really wasn't much of an exaggeration:
"The Democratic National Committee is temporarily taking over this account..." pic.twitter.com/WmdQ22Se9e— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) November 29, 2017
With this little adventure, the New York Times editorial board actively chose to formally become an appendage of the Democratic Party, eschewing all editorial distance. It's just pure activism. Also, importantly, their attacks on the policy itself are a blend of false, misleading and hypocritical propaganda. (1) Despite the first tweet's assertion (they tweeted similar things at other Senators), the bill would only add $1.4 trillion to deficits on paper -- under "static" scoring, which does not assume the new policy would spur economic growth and an inflow of resulting revenues. There are strong economic reasons to believe that reform would encourage significant growth, with one respected nonpartisan analysis projecting increased GDP and close to one million new full time jobs created under the House-passed bill. Would that growth compensate for all of the revenue reductions and red ink scored by CBO? Quite possibly not. Reducing Americans' tax burden should be coupled with spending restraint and entitlement reform, about which neither party seems to be serious, despite its mathematical necessity. Republicans have been much more responsible on those issues than Democrats, but the president has made clear that he wants to steer clear of entitlement spending completely. Separately, it's also wrongheaded to talk about how much tax cuts will "cost," because tax relief allows American workers to keep more of the money they earn -- which does not belong to the federal government by default.
(2) Multiple nonpartisan analyses totally blow up the ridiculous claim that the plan would not help the middle class. It would. Overwhelmingly. Pointing out that some households will see an increased tax bill (especially upper-income itemizers in high-tax states) does not negate the absolute fact that every income group will receive a tax cut, on average. That's according to Republicans, the Tax Foundation, the Tax Policy Center, and CBO. As I highlighted yesterday, the Tax Foundation's research concluded, "our results indicate a reduction in tax liability for every scenario we modeled, with some of the largest cuts accruing to moderate-income families with children." I'll say it again: The standard deduction would approximately double under this plan, a major boon to the 70 percent of taxpayers who already take it (a number that will grow), rather than itemizing. In fact, if the Times editors would only read their own organization's analysis of the reform bill, they'd know this:
NYT editors, today: GOP tax reform doesn't help the middle class.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) November 29, 2017
NYT news analysis, yesterday: Virtually every single middle-income taxpayer who takes the standard deduction (70%! of filers) will get a tax cut, as will a substantial majority of those who itemize. pic.twitter.com/PuOhZcXzLY
That's a chart illustrating standard-deduction-taking middle class households (drawn from an review of 25,000 families). The green dots represent those who would receive a tax cut under the GOP plan. Allow me to quote directly from the piece, since the Times' editors apparently didn't read it:
The Senate bill would roughly double the standard deduction: to $12,000 for an individual or $24,000 for married couples. As a result, most middle-class households that take the standard deduction now would get a tax cut under the bill in 2018, and almost none would get a tax increase. The story is very different for the roughly one-quarter of middle-class families that itemize deductions. The Senate bill would eliminate some popular tax breaks, including deductions for state and local taxes. As a result, households that take those deductions now could lose out. In total, about 40 percent of households that itemize their deductions would pay more in 2018 under the Senate bill
So nearly every middle class taxpayer who takes the standard deduction -- which is to say, the vast, vast majority of them -- will see tax relief, and of the remaining fraction who choose to itemize instead, a supermajority of those will also get a tax cut. Many will argue that the overall package is too slanted toward "the rich" (who pay a disproportionately huge percentage of total federal taxes) or that individual tax relief comes with an expiration date (a point we unpacked here). But you cannot honestly argue that tax reform would simply explode the deficit "without helping the middle class." That's a lie, and the Times repeated it over and over again while badgering readers to call Senators with bogus talking points. As for the Obamacare point in the Collins tweet, (3) we've already dealt with that issue in detail, but I'll simply add that it's pretty shameless for the Times to be hand-wringing over rising healthcare costs, given their endless cheerleading for Obamacare. Since its implementation, that law has more than doubled average premiums for federal exchange consumers in the individual market. And out-of-pocket costs have also soared to the point of being effectively useless for millions. Don't believe me? May I suggest reading...the New York Times? Finally, it's quite rich to see the anti-Citizens United editors of the New York Times engaging in the same sort of direct activism (i.e. political speech) that they oppose for other corporations.