CNN Blares Liberal Spin on Taxes
President Obama has called for the Buffett Rule - higher taxes on millionaires - and CNN helped him make his case in a one-sided segment Wednesday afternoon.
Anchor Brooke Baldwin begged for her viewers' attention before she aired Obama's liberal spin on taxes from his State of the Union address. She then highlighted millionaire Mitt Romney's low tax rate, "adding fuel to the fire that the incredibly affluent, the rich folks, pay taxes at a lower rate than the average person," she hyped. [Video below the break.]
CNN then hosted "economist" Ben Stein - who just happens to agree with Obama on the matter - to give commentary. Stein lauded Obama's words as "fair" and said millionaires need to pay more taxes to help pay down the deficit.
"I don't see any rational reason why people who have that much money should not pay a higher rate of tax," he told CNN. "I mean, it would be nice if they could keep it, but it would be also nice if we fly by flapping our wings."
[Video below. Click here for audio.]
Baldwin acted surprised that Stein, a former speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford and a contributor to the conservative magazine The American Spectator, favored Obama's position. To the contrary, Stein has repeatedly called for higher taxes on millionaires to help reduce the deficit.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 25 at 2:28 p.m. EST, is as follows:
BROOKE BALDWIN: Plus, the President says it's unfair – his words – to ask the middle class to pay higher tax rates than the super rich. He is also calling upon Congress to help homeowners in trouble. But Republicans, they're not buying any of that. The Ben Stein is standing by live. He's got some thoughts on how to fix this economic mess. Next.
BALDWIN: You say the word "taxes," and most people's eyes glaze over. Your ears shut down as soon as the subject matter comes up. But not now. Please don't glaze over, this is so important. This is huge, especially now in this political climate. Not with this.
BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: We need to change our tax code so that people like me and an awful lot of members of Congress pay our fair share of taxes.
Tax reform should follow the Buffett Rule. If you make more than a million dollars a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes.
(End Video Clip)
BALDWIN: That was the President, of course, just last night, during his State of the Union speech. And earlier in the day, that very day, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released his taxes, and we found out not only did he make $21 million last year, but a total of $42 million over the course of two years. And his tax rate was under 14 percent, adding fuel to the fire that the incredibly affluent, the rich folks, pay taxes at a lower rate than the average person. And we could be adding more fuel here, or maybe a little clarity, hopefully, by talking to Ben Stein. He's an economist, an author, good enough to join me there from Washington. Ben Stein, nice to have you on.
BEN STEIN, economist and author: Glad to be here.
BALDWIN: So clearly, this isn't new. Mitt Romney, he's a successful guy, and under Obama's proposal, which we heard again last night, he would be paying taxes at that 30 percent rate, if the Buffett Rule is, in effect, in effect. My question to you, the President's tax proposal, is it fair, or does it penalize the successful?
STEIN: It's totally fair, and it's absolutely necessary. We're headed toward national default, and,. I mean, no candidate has told you, from either party, that we're heading towards default. No candidate has told you we are going to have to declare a default on our national debt sooner or later. I just did tell you that, but it's true, unless we raise taxes dramatically, and cut spending. And raising taxes on people who have incomes of over a million dollars a year seems to be a fair way to start. I don't see any rational reason why people who have that much money should not pay a higher rate of tax. I mean, it would be nice if they could keep it, but it would be also nice if we fly by flapping our wings.
BALDWIN: Ben Stein, are you agreeing with President Obama right here on CNN?
STEIN: Well I'm agreeing with him about that. I don't agree with him about much else, but I certainly have been saying all my life that we have to do something about the budget. We cannot run these enormous deficits forever, and the best place to get the money is people who have lots of it, and that would be very rich people.
BALDWIN: Finally, I wanted to just slide this question in for, you know, really calling all homeowners. The President also last night called for legislation to make it easy for Americans to refinance their homes. Do you think it's a good idea, or should the government just totally butt out? What's next for the housing market, you think?
STEIN: Well I think the housing market is so low, the next step is up for sure. But I don't know how long it will take, but it might take a while. But I think the government should be helping people refinance. Losing your home is so incredibly traumatic, so incredibly upsetting, that I think whatever the government can do short of infringing on lenders' rights is really, really important. It's just a terrible trauma to lose your home.