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PolitiFact’s Analysis of Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan is Fatally Flawed


PolitiFact, as we’ve mentioned before (“PolitiFact Earns ‘Pants On Fire’ Rating“), has the annoying habit of claiming to impartially fact-check various statements made by public officials. Unfortunately, PolitiFact does not really analyze (using the accepted science definition of the term), it simply offers two-cent opinions masquerading under the haughty label of “analysis.”

Case in point: PolitiFact claims to have analyzed Herman Cain’s statement that his 9-9-9 plan will result in lower taxes for someone making less than $50,000 a year, and rates the claim “Mostly False.” (“Cain’s ‘9-9-9’ plan no pal of working poor,” headlines the edited version in the 17 Oct 2011 edition of the St. Petersburg Times; the full online version is here).

1. The first major problem with PolitiFact’s analysis is that it was not shown to be objective. PolitiFact selected three tax accountants to provide an opinion, but since Cain’s 9-9-9 plan — if implemented — will substantially reduce the need for tax accountants, they are the last folks that should be asked for an assessment.

(Oddly, after touting the three accountants, Politifact barely mentions them. The newspaper version of the article only cites the comments of one of the three, who happened to be very critical of Cain’s plan. The online version quotes a second accountant who had a positive comment. There is no mention whatever of the mysterious third accountant.)

2. Politifact states in the online version, “For this fact-check, we’ll only be talking about the personal income tax and the sales tax since the business tax directly affects only business owners and corporations.” This assertion is nonsense, however, since everyone’s effective income is directly impacted by the prices that business owners and corporations charge their customers, and those prices are greatly affected by federal corporate and payroll taxes.

PolitiFact completely ignores such taxes, which are often hidden taxes that the Cain plan eliminates. For example, when most folks purchase a loaf of bread, they are aware of the state sales tax that’s added at the checkout counter, but they may not be aware that a portion of the price tag on the bread contains hidden federal taxes; i.e. the basic price is not only what the baker charges to bake the bread, it also includes an extra amount to cover some or all of what the baker has to pay the federal government in taxes.

Bottom line: PolitiFact’s analysis is fatally flawed. Its analysis of Mr. Cain’s 9-9-9 plan does not prove anything, one way or the other.

-Ed Walker

 

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