Is the Mainstream Media Abandoning Obama?; Updated

Something unprecedented is going on among the self-appointed guardians of political discourse: The mainstream media.  Just last week I expressed incredulity when the Associated Press, long in Obama’s corner, actually fact-checked the ridiculous claims Obama was making in his latest Stimulus Plan…and found most of them at odds with reality.  This was a welcome development, I noted, but surely an isolated instance.  Imagine my surprise today when the AP, along with numerous other Obama apologists, fact-checked the embarrassing speech a petulant Obama delivered yesterday in the Rose Garden and again, refused to swallow Obama’s claims.

First, the AP took on Obama’s absurd class warfare rhetoric in which he repeated the age-old socialist dogma about the “rich”, however defined, not paying their “fair share” of taxes, however that’s defined.  This tired liberal platitude, of course, has no basis in fact (nor has it ever), but that has never prevented those on the Left from repeating it year after year and decade after decade.  And why not?  They could always count on the pliant mainstream media to provide Democrats with cover and ignore actual data.  The AP, however, may have reached their breaking point with Obama:

President Barack Obama says he wants to make sure millionaires are taxed at higher rates than their secretaries. The data say they already are.

“Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. There is no justification for it,” Obama said as he announced his deficit-reduction plan this week. “It is wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million.”

On average, the wealthiest people in America pay a lot more taxes than the middle class or the poor, according to private and government data. They pay at a higher rate, and as a group, they contribute a much larger share of the overall taxes collected by the federal government.

The 10 percent of households with the highest incomes pay more than half of all federal taxes. They pay more than 70 percent of federal income taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

None of this is surprising to anyone who’s economically literate, but until recently that excluded most of the Washington media.   Usually we could have expected them to go out of their way to seek somebody, anybody, to buttress Obama’s claim.  For example, there are a small percentage of wealthy Americans who, via loopholes and other gimmicks in the tax code, do actually pay less than the middle class.  In normal times, these few people would be found and portrayed as the norm…and proof that Obama was right.  But that didn’t happen this time as the AP reporter, Stephen Ohlemacher, directly and honestly addresses this very issue:

There may be individual millionaires who pay taxes at rates lower than middle-income workers. In 2009, 1,470 households filed tax returns with incomes above $1 million yet paid no federal income tax, according to the Internal Revenue Service. But that’s less than 1 percent of the nearly 237,000 returns with incomes above $1 million.

This year, households making more than $1 million will pay an average of 29.1 percent of their income in federal taxes, including income taxes, payroll taxes and other taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay an average of 15 percent of their income in federal taxes.

Lower-income households will pay less. For example, households making between $40,000 and $50,000 will pay an average of 12.5 percent of their income in federal taxes. Households making between $20,000 and $30,000 will pay 5.7 percent.

All this data completely debunks the class warfare rhetoric upon which he appears to be basing his re-election campaign.  Clearly he can’t run on his record, and this kind of nonsense is the only “rationale” he has to make his case to increasingly skeptical voters.  However, this strategy can only work if he maintains the love of the mainstream media, and that appears to be an increasingly perilous proposition.

The heretofore reliable Obama defenders at the Washington Post  panned the so-called deficit reduction plan he touted yesterday as full of gimmicks and unlikely to produce any real deficit reduction. Steve Chapman, an editorial board member at Obama’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, thinks he should eschew re-election before he does yet more damage to the Democrat Party.  And David Brooks, in a mea culpa, admits that he’s an Obama sap and that maybe, just maybe, pre-judging the capacity of someone to be president on the basis of their capacity to recite Edmund Burke philosophy or their prowess with a Rowenta isn’t such a good idea.  And you know the White House must be panicking if even the effete David Brooks is having second thoughts.

But that’s not all.  In recent days the New York Times, Politico, The Hill, and CBS, to name a few, have had no problem running stories in which Congressional Democrats have openly criticized Obama’s policies and proposals.  I don’t know which is more significant: That these reliably Democrat media outlets published the stories in the first place, or that Democrat officeholders no longer fear being quoted on the record as being opposed to Obama.  In either case, the significance can’t be understated.  Remember, Obama’s basing his entire re-election on this calumny, and a significant number of those in his own party, whether in the media or in elective office, are not on board.  What does that say about their expectations of an Obama victory in 2012?

Update: ABC News also disputes Obama’s class warfare nonsense:

Treasury Secretary Geithner yesterday declined to answer a key question about the president’s proposed “Buffett Rule”:  How many millionaires and billionaires pay lower tax rates than middle-income families?

The answer: not that many.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has crunched the numbers and found that Warren Buffett and his secretary are the exception to the rule.  For the most part, the wealthy pay a significantly higher percentage of their income in taxes than middle-income workers.

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