Barack Obama's July 9 announcement that he would extend the Bush tax cuts for income below $250,000 prompted the expected response from Republican politicians and presidential candidate Mitt Romney: This is a tax increase on "small businesses."
That is false. But most news reports won't say so. ...
.... Then, as now, the argument is almost entirely bogus. The share of filers who could qualify as small business owners is tiny--about 2 percent of small business owners, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. The increase would affect, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, about 3 percent of filers who claim any business income (Think Progress, 7/9/12).
So why don't reporters just say that? Some who try to put the numbers in context seem afraid to call out one side for being deceptive. On CBS Evening News (7/9/12), Norah O'Donnell reported the story this way:
Mitt Romney said today that the president's proposal would mean a massive tax increase on job-creators and small businesses. Many of those small businesses pay at an individual tax rate. But the president said it would affect just 3 percent of small businesses. Still, Scott, that would affect about 250,000 small businesses.
Turning the tiny percentage into a number that sounds impressive seems a pretty clear attempt to make viewers think the Romney campaign had a point.