As Americans face the April 15 income tax deadline, George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley has some strong words for how CNN has covered changes made to the system by the Trump administration. Turley focused on John Avlon‘s “Reality Check” segment that described the Trump tax code as a partisan means of treating red states and blue states differently “by design.”
Avlon described the Trump tax plan, signed in December 2017, as “kind of a Christmas gift to corporations and red state state residents, passed entirely along party lines.” Avlon focused on the reduction in state and local taxes (SALT) that Americans can deduct. As a result, Avlon said, tax refunds went up in red states and down in blue states. Turley said Avlon ignored the legitimate, established criticisms of SALT deductions.
“Not once in the segment did CNN mention the long-standing economic and policy objections to the SALT deductions,” he wrote in a Monday blog post. “Instead, the entire segment framed the change as penalizing states and voters who did not support Trump. It was wildly unfair and incomplete on the issue and seemed calculated to enrage rather than inform.”
The professor described how SALT deductions have been used as an excuse for states to raise taxes, as citizens were able to just deduct the amount they paid from their federal taxes. This basically took money from the federal government and gave it to states.
“It became funny money and effectively required low tax states to subsidize the programs and budgets of high-tax states,” Turley said. Yes, blue states that had high taxes felt the effect of the reduction in SALT deductions, but that’s because more care had to be made in state spending, because citizens would be hit harder by it. With wealthy taxpayers who once benefited from the SALT deductions leaving, there was less money available, and spending was slashed.
“In other words, rather than support their budgets themselves, states like New York cut programs when the full and true burden was shouldered by the state,” Turley wrote.
Such a discussion of the cause and effect of the reduced SALT deduction was missing from CNN’s segment, the professor lamented. Rather than educating people about the realities of the Trump tax code with a discussion of its pros and cons, CNN took a partisan approach that Turley described as “a program that summed up my concerns in journalism in the age of echo-chamber news.”
[Image via CNN screengrab]