I haven’t said much about the 2012 election, largely because this blog tries to avoid politics and instead focuses on how public policy can promote or (all too often) restrict liberty.
But every so often, I feel compelled to pontificate – usually because someone is saying or doing something foolish. This is why I want to talk about Jon Huntsman’s tax reform plan.
But in this case, my ire isn’t directed at the candidate, who actually deserves credit for proposing a very good plan.
Instead, I want to expose some very shoddy – or very biased – coverage by the New York Times. Here’s how the reporter, Ashley Parker, began her report on Huntsman’s proposal.
Jon M. Huntsman Jr. again showed himself on Wednesday to be an ideological outlier in the Republican presidential field, calling for the tax code to be stripped of all loopholes and deductions. Congressional Republicans have resisted closing loopholes in recent budget talks, portraying such moves as tax increases.
Her key message, as you can read for yourself, is that Huntsman is a rogue force in the Republican Party because he wants to get rid of special tax breaks. GOPers in Congress, according to the article, “have resisted closing loopholes.”
Huntsman may very well be an outlier is certain ways, but Parker’s portrayal of his tax plan – and how it meshes with the views of other GOPers – is simply false.
The general Republican position, as well as the position of Americans for Tax Reform, is that it is perfectly acceptable and indeed desirable to get rid of tax preferences and distortions. But they should be eliminated as part of a shift to lower tax rates, not as part of some scam to give politicians more tax revenue.
Well, take a wild guess what Jon Huntsman wants to do with the revenue from “closing loopholes.” Assuming your IQ is above room temperature, you probably have figured out that the former Utah governor wants to use every penny of the additional tax revenue to finance lower tax rates. And you’d be correct.
Nowhere in Mr. Parker’s story, however, is there any acknowledgement of that important fact. Why not? To be honest, I have no idea. It could be bias. It could be incompetence. It could be that she had a preconceived narrative that Huntsman is a maverick and therefore she wanted to portray his plan as somehow contrary to GOP policy.
But all that matters is she blew the story. Within two sentences, she completely mischaracterized Huntsman’s proposal and created a false impression that he was doing something that put him to the left of the Republican mainstream, when he actually has a tax plan that is much farther to the right than anything Perry or Romney have proposed.