A few days ago I wrote a piece, only partly tongue in cheek, proposing an auto-ban on anyone who quoted any of the media "fact checkers" to bolster their argument. My reasoning is that quoting a "fact checker" is merely laundering someone else's opinion as fact and that constitutes both sloppy thinking and a lack of good faith.
Were there any doubt about this, Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post dispels it today. Kessler may very well be the least intelligent of the stable of "fact checkers" out there because unlike the clowns at "Politifact", Kessler pathetically seems to believe what he writes. That is how he is able to rate claims as "true but false" with no apparent sense of irony.
In this edition, Kessler evaluates Romney's claim that 47% of Americans pay no income tax. Stunningly, he gives this "three Pinocchios" because what Romney said was true but Kessler just doesn't like it much. There is no doubt that at least 47% of Americans do not pay federal income tax. Kessler contends that this is false because Americans who pay income tax pay other varieties of taxes.
You will not that Mitt Romney did not say this and now Kessler in a spectacular display of dishonesty is creating an argument for Romney that he didn't make and then debunking it.
More to the point, Romney's argument is about dependency. Federal income taxes differ from "payroll" taxes in a critical way. Payroll taxes, Social Security and Medicare in particular, are insurance programs which entitle, another key word here, the payer to certain services. They are called FICA because they are required under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. Federal income taxes, on the other hand, go towards paying the cost of government.
This is the core of the argument conservatives have been making for years. It is why the Heritage Foundation produces a "dependency index." No matter how much you pay as a percentage of your income under FICA, if you do not pay income tax you, quite honestly, have no skin in the game when it comes to reducing federal spending because you are benefiting from services provided by someone else. As de Tocqueville wrote:
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
Kessler goes on to state:
Moreover, if some people do not pay income taxes, it is because of policies often advocated by Republicans, such as child tax credits and tax benefits for the working poor. President Richard M. Nixon offered an early version of the earned income tax credit, and it was enacted under Gerald Ford and expanded under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) pushed for the child tax credit — signed into law by Democrat Bill Clinton in 1997 and later expanded by George W. Bush in 2004.
That may very well be true. I looked over Romney's statement several times and I failed to find where he made any claim that could possibly be contradicted by that laundry list people and events.
Again Kessler demonstrates that he is a partisan hack devoid of integrity who will do anything and say anything, truth be damned, in order to say a Republican is lying.