Contextual Content

Fox News bias for the rich?

This week, Fox News showed a factually false Republican talking point about the so-called "death tax" and then showed no Democratic response and no correction of the Republican falsehood. Even worse, Fox News actually tried to imply opposition to the inheritance tax within the Obama administration by using a misinterpretation of the work of an Obama economic adviser that actually contradicts nothing proposed by Obama but does contradict core Republican beliefs exemplified in a February 2009 CPAC speech by apparent de facto head of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh.

You can see the February 2009 CPAC speech by Rush Limbaugh from which I take short clips for my video using links at…

The Fox News clips I use in my video come from the program "Happening Now" broadcast April 1, 2009 (not available online).

You can find the chart I used in my video that shows the percentage of estates affected by the inheritance tax that have significant small business or farm assets at…

You can see the 1980 paper by Barack Obama's economic adviser Lawrence Summers titled "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation" (as published in 1981) at


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Story Transcript


Fox News Bias for the Rich?

VOICEOVER: So conservative Republicans like to say they believe in equality, but only equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. That’s a view you can hear expressed in a speech last February from Rush Limbaugh, the apparent de facto leader of the Republican Party, in the pair of clips I’ve spliced together here.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: Now, admittedly, over here on the right side, capitalism. There will be unequal outcomes because we are all different, and some of us care more and have more passion and we know what we want to do, and others are still struggling for it. Some people are just going to work harder than others. Okay, you get what you work for. We’re all different. There are no two things or people in this world who are created in a way that they end up with equal outcomes. That’s up to them. They are created equal to get the chance.

VOICEOVER: Now, given that conservative belief in having a society where everyone starts out equally, you’d think Republicans would be all in favor of an inheritance tax that only affects the heirs to multimillion dollar fortunes, which just equalizes opportunity a little bit. But instead, Republicans actually oppose what they call the "death tax," using factually false talking points like the one included in this clip from the April 1 Fox News story you can see here.

FOX NEWS REPORTER 1: So the Republicans don’t much like this, do they?

FOX NEWS REPORTER 2: Well, Republicans were the ones that pushed through President Bush’s tax policy in 2001 that lowered the death tax to 45 percent this year from 55 percent and then killed it altogether next year. Now they say President Obama’s plan to maintain it during this difficult economic time is, quote, "outrageous". Listen to this.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): You know, American families, small businesses, family farms are the ones who get the most by this.

VOICEOVER: Of course, saying that family farms and small businesses will get hit the most by the inheritance tax is a Republican talking point without any factual basis that Fox News just played for its viewers without a Democratic response and without explaining that, of the states affected by this tax that only applies to multimillionaires, only 0.003 percent have significant small business or farm assets. Even worse, Fox News actually tried to imply opposition to the inheritance tax within the Obama administration by using the misinterpretation of the work of Obama economic advisor Larry Summers that you can see here.

FOX NEWS REPORTER 1: I guess even some of those in the president’s inner circle were not exactly happy about the death tax. What are they saying?

FOX NEWS REPORTER 2: At least in the past they may or may not have been—I’m not sure if they were against it, but they at least acknowledged in the past that it prevented or stymied economic growth. Larry Summers, the president’s top economic adviser, co-authored a study in 1980 looking at how capital, money, wealth was accumulated and grown. He writes in this report, quote, "The evidence presented indicates that intergenerational transfers account for the vast majority of aggregate US capital formation," meaning that it is the passing on of wealth from one generation to another that helps grow the US economy, something the death tax obviously impedes.

VOICEOVER: Now, that supposed obvious meaning is wrong. And if you read Larry Summers’ paper that you can find at, you’ll find that nowhere in that paper did Larry Summers argue that intergenerational wealth transfers promote economic growth. And that’s not the meaning of the sentence Fox News quoted, which actually only means that most of the accumulated wealth in America comes from inheritance and not from the working and saving that people do during their lifetimes. That fact doesn’t contradict anything proposed by the Obama administration, but it does contradict the basis of the Republicans’ claim to favor equality of opportunity and that argument from the master of making stuff up, Rush Limbaugh, as you can see in from this clip.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: The people who have achieved great things, most of it is not inherited. Most wealth in this country is the result of entrepreneurial, just plain old hard work. There’s no reason to punish it. There’s no reason to raise taxes on these people.

VOICEOVER: Ha. So, what do you think? Given that Rush Limbaugh is wrong about the source of most wealth accumulation in America, shouldn’t he and other Republicans change their position on the correct level of taxation to achieve quality of opportunity? Or to put the question more directly, isn’t it fair, after exempting the first several million dollars, to ask rich kids to pay a 45 percent or 55 percent tax on their inheritances so they pitch in a little more than those whose parents weren’t multimillionaires?


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.