Just sent this to the NPR ombudsman:
This morning on the news, an NPR reporter referred to the debate in DC as (I'm paraphrasing, but it's close) between a “tax cut for those who make under $250,000” and a competing proposal that also would also offer tax cuts to the higher-income group. That's pretty much how most media report it. And it is not factually accurate.
If you look at the actual tax cut bill that is supposedly for those under $250,000, you would see that the benefits in that bill also flow to people making more. There is no income limit for benefiting from the middle-class tax cut. All that is limited is how much you get — in the Democratic proposal, people making $5million get the same sized tax cut as those making $250,000, in the Republican the more you make, the greater your benefit (at the expense of the deficit, of course).
So in fact the debate is not whether wealthier tax payers should get a tax cut — both plans, every plan, on the table give them a tax cut. Rather the debate is over whether people making over $250K should get additional, higher tax cuts in some ratio to their earnings, in addition to the base tax cut they would get anyway under the first plan.
NPR should explain this correctly, not go with the lazy explanation even if (almost) everyone else does.
Of course this particular error is everywhere, so much so that when I first encountered the truth it seemed unlikely. This represents such a catastrophic failure of White House and Democratic leadership messaging as to make one believe that they never seriously contemplated not having the extra-large tax cuts for millionaires, even though my children will be paying for it for years. Yes, that's the tax cut financed by the same deficit spending that is too horrible to contemplate for extending unemployment benefits to people who have been out of work for over a year due in large part to the actions of some of those self-same millionaires.
Hypothesis: It's all kabuki. We are going to tax the future poor to benefit the present rich again, just like we did when so much of the bailout money — our future taxes — ended up in Wall Street bonuses. And that was the plan in the White House and much of the Senate and even Congressional leadership from day one.