The Republicans and Democrats unveiled their budgets in Congress this week. And though they say numbers don't lie, some of their rhetoric stretches the truth.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for example, claimed the Democrats are planning $1.5 trillion in tax hikes.
“And then there’s the Democrats’ $1.5 trillion tax hike. Trillion with a T,” McConnell said during a speech on the Senate floor. “Let me just repeat that: Any senator who votes for that budget is voting for a $1.5 trillion tax hike, the largest in the history of our country.”
The number comes from an inaccurate portrayal of the Democratic plan, which lists $975 billion in tax increases.
The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Patty Murray, D-Wash., has said that of the $975 billion, $480 billion will be used to reverse some automatic spending cuts under the sequester, while investing $100 billion in infrastructure. Dems have presented most of the money as coming from closing certain loopholes on businesses.
But Republicans, including McConnell, are adding the numbers together, assuming that the $580 billion is on top of the $975 billion in tax increases. It’s a misrepresentation of the Democratic plan: the spending is taking revenue from the tax increases, not in addition to it.
The GOP proposal was authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the chairman of the House Budget Committee. He said the GOP's plan is to balance the budget without further burdening taxpayers.
“House Republicans have a plan to change course,” he wrote in a Monday Wall Street Journal column. “We're introducing a budget that balances in 10 years — without raising taxes.”
But Ryan failed to mention that his plan keeps the recent tax increases that were so unpopular among conservatives – ones that were championed by President Barack Obama.
In fact, Ryan’s proposal incorporates tax increases from the fiscal cliff compromise a few months back that raised taxes on wealthy Americans, something most Republicans opposed. And the proposal incorporates tax increases from the president’s health-care law, which most Republicans definitely opposed.
“You are correct that revenue levels in the House Republican budget reflect current law,” House Budget Committee spokesman Conor Sweeney told the Washington Post. “Chairman Ryan has made clear that a balanced budget within 10 years is a more realistic goal as a result of this higher revenue level.”
For misrepresenting the truth in both directions, overstating the size of the Democrats' proposed tax increase and understating their own plan's reliance on tax increases, McConnell and Ryan win the Whopper of the Week, a distinction awarded by the Washington Guardian to the perpetrators of political misstatements.