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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Oct. 4-10


This week, readers chided us for not reviewing “all of the facts” about teachers’ tax burden and for using “questionable sources.”

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

 

Teachers’ Tax Burden

While normally I love reading your website, I felt this story [“Obama’s Teacher Tax Whopper,” Sept. 28] failed to review all of the facts.

The story did not take into account property taxes. Property taxes for many teachers can be an extremely high percentage of their income (ask a teacher in NJ).

Further, the story did not take into account “use taxes.” These would include phone taxes, fuel taxes, sales taxes, cable/satellite taxes, cigarette taxes, etc. All of these expenses are paid for by the taxpayers in President Obama’s case (except the cigarette tax).

Lastly, it ignores that the dividend rate is historically low, thereby reducing many wealthy Americans’ overall tax rate.

On the subject of tax, I have never seen anyone at Factcheck.org challenge the statement that lower taxes for the wealthy and corporate America will allow for a better economy. I think historical correlations would indicate that a higher corporate tax rate is good for the economy more than it would correlate that it hurts the economy. However, I think it actually shows that the corporate tax rate does not really effect the economy at all. I think that the only real correlation is that war economies are bad, post-war economies are generally good, as the government has a surplus of funds.

Anyway keep up the good work.  I hope my seven year old will end up at the University of Pennsylvania.

Anthony Rosati
Lansdale, Pa.

 

‘Questionable Sources?’

In Robert Farley’s article [“Cherry-picking on Regulation,” Sept. 22] on the difference between the amount and cost of regulation in the Bush and Obama administrations, I was disappointed to see he used questionable sources as a crutch. The Heritage Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a member of a Libertarian think tank. Really? No bias there!

FactCheck’s usefulness and reputation is based on trying to present RELIABLE evidence to refute political spin. FactCheck — or anyone else for that matter — could do a separate website just correcting the nearly endless spin provided by Heritage and USCOC and likely some liberal organizations as well. It would be very interesting to get a clearer picture of the difference in regulatory costs between the two administrations. It might be even worse than the conservatives claim. Perhaps you can eventually find a RELIABLE source on this issue, or at least have an informal peer review done on the Heritage study. Perhaps you should have done a little more homework and read the critique by Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post‘s Fact Checker, of the Heritage study and one other.

Please don’t be so anxious to fill up the website that you swallow whole information from established axe-grinding resources. Or does Robert Farley have a “slip” of political bias which is showing? Even if it’s only the appearance of bias, it hurts your efforts to put the EVIDENCE in front of the American people instead of the spin. Maybe I need to turn to the Washington Post instead, but I’d rather have more than one fact-checking source. I, at least, believe in getting QUALITY information.

Paul Pavlich
Richmond, Ky.

FactCheck.org responds: As was clearly stated in the article, “our own research” using data from a report on the cost of federal regulations from the government’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs confirmed the basic cost figures that we cited, and showed that the time periods used by the White House amount to a misleading apples-to-oranges comparison.