NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Don't Underestimate the New York Times

June 11, 2003

Conservatives everywhere were celebrating last week with the announcement that Howell Raines was forced out as executive editor of the New York Times. Raines had pushed the paper even further to the left, and did so in ways that were intended to be as irritating to conservatives as possible. So his forced resignation over the Jayson Blair scandal was as sweet for them as Richard Nixon's 1974 resignation from the presidency was for liberals, says Bruce Bartlett.

But if any conservatives thought that the Times was going to stop being a thorn in their side, they quickly got a wake-up call on the child tax credit. David Firestone, its congressional correspondent, jumped on this story almost before the ink was dry on the new tax bill and made it an issue they had to deal with.

In brief, the story is this.

  • The version of the tax bill that passed the Senate included a provision that increased refundability of the child credit, which is being raised from $600 to $1,000.
  • Under current law, the credit is refundable for those with an income tax liability less than the credit to which they are otherwise eligible.
  • However, refundability is limited to 10 percent of a taxpayer's earned income above $10,500 -- scheduled to rise to 15 percent in 2005.
  • With the New York Times hyping the issue daily, Senate leaders quickly moved a bill making more of the child credit refundable, which passed by a 94 to 2 vote on June 5. The House likely will go along.

At least one thing can be learned from this episode, says Bartlett, do not underestimate the New York Times. It is still capable of setting the national agenda.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, "Don't Underestimate the New York Times," National Center for Policy Analysis, June 11, 2003.


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