The Trump presidential campaign is the master of the mischievous clip job. Time after time, the president’s campaign has released ads that snip and clip Biden’s speeches and remarks to make the former vice president appear to say the opposite of what he was saying.
Biden says he will not ban fracking — so Trump runs ads that say he will ban fracking.
Biden says he will not defund police departments — so Trump runs ads saying he will defund them.
Now here comes an ad in which Biden is seen saying three times he will raise everyone’s taxes, even though Biden’s stated policy is that anyone making less than $400,000 a year will not face a tax increase. “An economy in ruins. That’s what Joe Biden’s tax increase means for you,” the ad declares.
Snip, snip, snip. Each time, Biden’s remarks are taken out of context.
We should note that interspersed in this ad are scary assertions that under Biden’s tax plan, household incomes will decline by $6,500 a year and 5 million jobs will be lost. We’re not going to dwell on them, except that readers should disregard such claims as fiction. The numbers come from a report co-written by President Trump’s former chief economic adviser, so it’s clearly designed for campaign weaponization. The $6,500-figure is an estimate for 2030, a decade in the future — not even during a theoretical two-term Biden presidency. Ditto for the 5 million jobs figure.
Such numbers lack context. Fiddling the dials of an economic model can produce any range of desired outcomes 10 years from now. For instance, the report dings Biden for tax increases that are part of the law signed by Trump and assumes high costs for combating climate change.
Biden, for his part, can cite a competing analysis that argues the opposite of the report cited in the ad, finding that Biden’s economic plan would create more jobs than Trump’s plan. That analysis even has a more respected provenance — the financial research firm Moody’s Analytics.
Among his key proposals, Biden says he would restore the top individual tax rate from 37 to 39.6 percent, raise the corporate tax rate from 21 to 28 percent, set minimum corporate taxes for domestic and foreign income, boost the tax on capital gains by labeling it as ordinary income and reintroduce limits on itemized deductions.
Biden would also make wages above $400,000 subject to the 12.4 percent Social Security payroll tax, which is split between employees and employers. Currently, everyone stops paying the Social Security payroll tax once wages reach $137,700, a level that increases each year with inflation. In effect, there would be a gap between about $140,000 and $400,000 in which people would stop paying the payroll tax, but that gap would narrow over time and eventually disappear because Biden would not make the $400,000 threshold subject to inflation.
Moreover, Biden proposes expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Child and Dependent Care Credit and the Premium Tax Credit (PTC). He also would introduce a $15,000 refundable credit for first-time home buyers and a refundable rent credit.
The Penn Wharton Budget Model on Sept. 25 released an updated analysis of the Biden plan that incorporated the effect of many of the candidate’s proposed tax credits. The analysis showed, including the tax credits, taxes would be reduced for all taxpayers in the bottom 90 percent.
Faced with that kind of analyses from a respected source, the Trump campaign decided to invert reality and twist Biden’s words in the ad. (These examples are also demonstrated in the video above.) The words in the ad are shown in boldface.
“If you elect me, your taxes are going to be raised, not cut.”
What Biden really said, Feb. 27, addressing a person in the audience who indicated he or she had benefited from Trump’s tax cut: “Well, you did. Well that’s good. I’m glad to see you’re doing well already. But guess what, if you elect me, your taxes are going to be raised, not cut, if you benefited from that.”
“And here’s how it works. I’m going to raise taxes.”
What Biden really said, Oct. 10: “And here’s how it works. I’m going to raise taxes. I’m not going to raise taxes on anybody making less than 400 grand. But you won’t pay a penny more. But those making more than that, I’m going to ask them to finally begin to pay their fair share. I’m going to ask the big corporations and the wealthy to begin to pay.”
“You’re going to get a tax raise.”
What Biden really said, Oct. 12: “Here’s how my plan works. I’m not going to raise taxes on anyone who makes less than $400,000 a year. If you make more than 400, beep your horn, because you’re going to get a tax raise. Well, I’m going to raise your tax slightly, if you’re making over 400. But look, you’re not going to pay a penny more. In fact, tens of millions of middle-class families are going to get a tax cut when they need it most. Raising their kids, trying to get affordable health care, buying their first home, or saving for retirement. But I’m going to ask big corporations and the super wealthy just to begin to start to pay their fair share. I’m going to raise back the tax cut he gave for corporate America.”
Note that Biden repeatedly made it clear he would raise taxes on people making more than $400,000. But the Trump campaign snipped those words out.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The Pinocchio Test
These are all examples of what our Guide to Manipulated Video describes as isolation — sharing a brief clip from a longer video to create a false narrative that does not reflect the event as it occurred. As regular readers know, this has been the standard operating procedure of the Trump campaign.
Maybe polling indicates it works. We’ve certainly received emails from readers who swear that what they saw in a Trump ad was true — until we showed the full clip.
But Biden is not planning to raise everyone’s taxes — and the Trump campaign knows this. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be so quick with the scissors.
The Trump campaign earns Four Pinocchios.
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