Backdoor Middle Class Taxes a Fib: Will the Right Own Up?

Reuters retracts its story while conservative blogs plug their ears

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In the last two days, conservative bloggers have bashed president Obama's budget for a number of reasons. The latest uproar surrounded a Reuters story claiming that Obama's budget would increase taxes on middle class Americans. When the influential news site Drudge Report linked to it, the story took off.

But a strange thing happened. When administration officials read the piece they pleaded with Reuters to take it down, saying the budget included no such "backdoor" tax increases. Surprisingly, Reuters conceded, retracted the story and posted this message:

The Feb 1 story headlined "Backdoor taxes to hit middle class" is wrong and has been withdrawn. The story said lower-income families will pay more under tax provisions scheduled to expire Dec 31. The Obama administration's budget calls for the extension of those tax provisions for households earning less than $250,000. There will be no substitute story.

End of story? Not quite. As many have noted, once misinformation enters the blogosphere, it's difficult to combat. A number of conservative bloggers have continued to spread the word about "backdoor" tax increases:

  • Yid with Lid: "During his campaign for president, Barack Obama said over and over that he will not raise taxes for families making less than $250,000 a year...With the budget he sent to Congress yesterday President Obama breaks that pledge not just once, but many times."
  • Scott Johnson at Powerline: "Insufficient attention has been paid to the necessity of relief from the coming increases in income tax rates, capital gains and dividends. The Reuters story does a service in drawing attention to the imminence and severity of these increases."
  • Dan Riehl: "They know where the bulk of the money is and that's always where they invariably go to get it in the end."

Some of the right-wing blogs that actually acknowledged the retraction have said the administration must have muscled out Reuters:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.