Michael Kinsley once noted that a major gaffe only occurs in Washington when someone speaks the truth. So what to make of this AP story, with a headline that reads: “Tax Burden Falls on the Wealthy“, and an opening paragraph that says “As a group, Americans whose incomes are in the top 5 percent are footing an increasing share of the national income tax burden. People in the bottom half, on the other hand, are paying only a fraction of the total take”?
When searching for the wording for Kinsley’s quote, I came upon this article, in NRO’s Financial section by Bruce Barlett. It contains an example of an Alan Greenspan “gaffe” that’s very reminiscent of AP’s:
Labor leader Jerry Wurf complained that Ford’s policies favored the rich over the poor. Greenspan replied that, actually, the rich suffered more from stagflation than did the poor. “If you really wanted to examine who, percentage-wise, is hurt the most in their incomes, it is Wall Street brokers,” he argued. “I mean, their incomes have gone down the most. So, if you want to get statistical, let’s look at what the facts are.”
The press, Congress, and just about the entire Washington establishment came down on Greenspan like a ton of bricks, and he was quickly forced to recant. “Obviously, the poor are suffering more,” he abjured. With support from Ford and a swift apology, Greenspan survived the flap. Ever afterward, he has been much more circumspect in his public, and even private, comments.