Sunday, July 1, 2012

Of course, people hate taxes, but they love paying penalties

Josh Marshall is wondering how many of his colleagues will acknowledge the obvious.
Whether you want to call the ACA health care mandate a tax or not is mainly a semantic point. It’s a penalty or tax or perhaps a tax penalty on people who refuse to purchase health insurance, even after they received subsidies that make it possible. But Republicans are now saying it’s the ‘biggest tax increase in history’ — either of America or the universe of whatever. But this is demonstrably false. 
The Congressional Budget Office says the mandate penalty will raise $27 billion between 2012 and 2021. $27 billion over a decade. Anybody who cares to can do the math. But if you want to call it a ‘tax increase’ — which is debatable — it’s clearly one of tiniest ones in history.
I’d be curious how many interviewers are (or are not) stopping folks who make this claim and pointing out this fact. Send me examples.
It's amazing how quickly silly ideas can become part of the standard narrative and how willing journalists are to accept silliness once it becomes part of that narrative. I know you've heard this before if you're a regular but journalism is in such a rotten state not just because standards have declined but because the profession has adopted an incredibly self-serving code of behavior that justifies the decline. Journalists who don't have the courage to confront liars or the dedication to get at the truth can point to the industry's peculiar definitions of balance and objectivity and say they're just doing their jobs.

There are journalists who do good work, but they do so in spite of their profession's code. That's not how the system is supposed to work.

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