Hannity started with a teaser, saying Obama's economic plan would turn the U.S. back into a welfare state. I was interested because I'd just heard this morning on WNYC-AM that neither Obama nor McCain had addressed the issue of poverty in their campaigns to any appreciable extent.
As Hannity's "bit" unfolded, I saw he was framing Obama's tax cuts for those making under $250,000 per year as "welfare" for the middle class. This was fair, as the middle class has considered Bush's tax cuts "welfare" for the rich for years now. All just an expression, right?
In fact, it's really a matter of perspective - you could say Obama was raising taxes on the rich by repealing the tax breaks Bush forced through (despite John McCain's resistance). Obama's plan actually doesn't bring the tax rates for the rich any higher then they were under Reagan, but we all know Sean Hannity desperately hides that fact.
So the segment proceeded with Sean harping on about the percentage of overall taxes the rich pay, claiming they already pay their fair share. Hannity, as a multimillionaire many times over might feel this is true, while you and I might think the wealthy could yet pay more.
This is all arguable and fair, but the segment took a strange turn when Hannity said plainly that Obama's tax cuts for the poorest would run so deep, that he was going to start cutting checks for those who already paid no taxes. I was shocked because I'd never heard this anywhere else.
UPDATE: A little help from an OpEdNews reader suggested Sean must be talking about the Earned Income Tax credit, a bipartisan anti-poverty program championed by then Governor Ronald Reagan in 1973 and enacted nationally starting in 1975 and renewed under President Reagan in 1986 and President Bush in 1990. In 1993, it was expanded under Clinton and then reduced by President Bush the younger in 2001.
Countries such as the UK, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Austria, Denmark, Belgium Finland and the Netherlands and US states New York, California, New Jersey, Massachussetts, Maryland, Oregon, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont and Rhode Island support their own EITC programs, recognizing that each dollar laid out is worth $1.50 in community reinvestment and reduction of future expenditures. Proponents have demonstrated EITC rewards and helps transition families to work, reducing welfare claims.
Proving the exact opposite of Hannity's assertion, a 1996 Business Week article by conservative economist and Nobel laureate Gary S. Becker confirmed EITC aids poor families without reducing employment, discouraging work, or promoting reliance on public assistance, writing "Empirical studies confirm the prediction of economic theory that the EITC increases the labor force participation and employment of people with low wages because they need to work in order to receive this credit."
I'd say someone needs to call Hannity on the wildeyed claim Obama is promoting a welfare state, but Hannity doesn't take any tough calls on his radio show. His supporters might explain here what he meant.
It's true that the EITC program has been issuing checks to the poor if their refund exceeds their tax bill, but this has been in place before Obama ever ran for national office, PLUS McCain voted for for the 2005 EITC Amendment just like Obama.
If I could get through on his call-in line, I'd not only ask Sean about this, but ask him to state for the record whether he was one of the conservative talk radio personalities who received comprehensive talking points from Karl Rove's massive operation within the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives. As confirmed by insider Scott McClellan, Rove enlisted friendly talk show hosts, looking to shape the public discourse during the run-up to the Iraq War and it would seem Sean, running in lock step with almost everything the Bush camp did on a daily basis, would be a logical suspect.
Criminal charges could result if Rove supplied Hannity info for his broadcast and this was not publicly disclosed. Enforcement on this is unlikely, however, when illegal torture, rendition, warrantless wiretapping, disposal of official records and felony voter disenfranchisement aren't first being prosecuted, but Hannity could at least elucidate how he parsed Obama's economic proposals to come up with the claim this is an Obama idea.