By Fae Jencks
Media Matters | August 03, 2010
This morning, CNN's Don Lemon ran a report by correspondent Allan Chernoff on the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and how, by not extending them, President Obama would supposedly be violating a campaign promise not to raise taxes on the middle class. Lemon and the subsequent report glazed over the fact that Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress have advocated for an extension of the Bush tax cuts to families who make less than $250,000 a year.
Lemon introduced the report by claiming that "a campaign promise by President Obama could get a big test soon" because "President Obama promised if you earn less than $250,000 a year, you won't see a tax hike," but "middle class families face one of the largest tax increases in American history" because the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
Chertoff's entire segment is premised on the likelihood of taxes on middle class families are increasing. Chernoff warns viewers, "brace yourself, there's a very good chance your family also may soon face the same tough choices to find extra money to pay Uncle Sam" because "tax rates are scheduled to rise once the year ends." He also interviews an accountant who "figures he'll soon need an extra $350 a month to pay more federal taxes."
Much of the segment features the caption "Middle class faces big tax increase; Bush-era tax cuts set to expire."
Chertoff later adds that "President Obama pledged to let taxes rise only on families making over $250,000 per year, but as things stand right now, tens of millions of Americans are about to get whacked by new higher tax rates." He also says that "in planning to let taxes rise, President Obama hopes to chop the budget deficit."
After more than three minutes of fearmongering by Chertoff and Lemon, Shawn Tully of Fortune magazine finally undermines the entire story, pointing out that Obama has said that he supports retaining the tax cuts for the middle class.
Indeed, President Obama's FY 2011 budget proposal includes a provision stating that "tax cuts that affect families earning more than $250,000 a year" would be allowed to expire, but that such an expiration would "have no effect on the 98% of all household who make less than $250,000." Both Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi support, and plan to bring legislation to the floor to extend, the Bush tax cuts for middle-class families.