'Large' Tax Cut
December 11, 2000
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A news story in the national section of today's New York Times reports on an appearance by the Senate majority leader, Trent Lott, yesterday on the CBS News program "Face The Nation." The Times reports: "Mr. Lott said he thought Mr. Bush should seek large tax-rate reductions to keep the economy growing." This is a distortion of the actual exchange. Here's a transcript:
Contrary to what the Times says, Mr. Lott wasn't commenting on what Bush "should" do; he was commenting on what will be possible in the Senate. And "large" wasn't Mr. Lott's characterization of the tax cut. "Large" is a characterization injected by a press that, for whatever reason, seems unable to understand that compared to the size of the projected federal budget surpluses or compared to the size of the tax cuts proposed by Steve Forbes during the Republican primary, the Bush tax cut plan is not "large."
Members of the Tribe: In a news article in the national section of today's New York Times, the newspaper describes a Gore lawyer, Laurence Tribe, as "perhaps the most well-known constitutional scholar in the nation, writing several books, notably 'American Constitutional Law,' which is considered the closest thing to a definitive treatise on the Constitution." "Considered" by whom? By the Times? Have they ever heard of the Federalist Papers?
Republican Racists: An article in the business section of this morning's New York Times contains the following quote from a passenger on a cruise sponsored by the Nation magazine: "It is such a relief to be able to sit at a dinner table and know that you are not going to hear a sexist joke or a racist remark about the wait staff. There are so many Republicans out there. You just don't know where they'll turn up." This assumption that Republicans are racist and sexist is apparently so unremarkable that the Times just passes it along unchallenged.
Decline in Executions: An article in the national section of this morning's New York Times runs under the headline "Federal Study Finds Decline in Executions."
The article reports that the decline is what "some experts believe is one sign of a new sense of caution and skepticism about the death penalty among both politicians and the public."
The article quotes a death-penalty critic as saying, "I think what we are starting to see is a new hesitancy and skepticism on the part of jurors in giving out the death penalty, and a new, more cautious rhetoric by politicians."
But there are plenty of other possible explanations for the declines in executions and in death sentences. The declines could be the result of the deterrent effect of executions that have already taken place. They could be the result of the decline in murders that is the result of the strong economy, better policing and the fact that more criminals are now locked up in prison where it is more difficult for them to commit new crimes. The Times article doesn't consider any of these alternative explanations. The only explanation that the Times considers for the decline in executions and death sentences is a supposed change in public attitude toward the death penalty.
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