March 18, 2011

Covering Criticism of the Governor

Justin Katz

It's almost humorous. The Providence Journal's PolitiFact team couldn't do otherwise than find that Lincoln Chafee broke his campaign promise not to raise taxes without first relieving the burden of state mandates on cities and towns. As if to counter that affront to media darling, on the same page, they declared that he kept his promise to seek a two-tiered sales tax.

From a certain point of view, I suppose that is a promise kept, but as I've pointed out before, the supposed fact checkers slant the results by picking which part (or variation) of a statement they examine for truth. In that context, consider even this part of their explanation:

Chafee said then that state leaders should carefully examine the possibility of a two-tiered sales tax that would continue the 7-percent tax on many items and charge a 1-percent sales tax on the long list of exempt items that, according to a 2008 Division of Taxation study, account for more than $625.6 million in potential state revenue.

If all the exempt items were taxed at 1 percent, Chafee said, the state could raise an additional $89.4 million in revenue.

What Chafee has actually suggested is to apply 6% to to some exempt items and 1% to others, thereby raising about double the taxes that he initially sought. At the very least, that's a promise half-kept, but from my perspective, it constitutes a full break.

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I can just imagine Kerr and Fitzgerald laughing at the water cooler saying "Is there nothing we can't spin with this Polti-Fact."

Posted by: dave at March 18, 2011 1:41 PM
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