Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Breaking News: Fox News is Bad at Math

I tend to check Fox News at least once a day just to know what is being said over there. Then I saw this:

Tax Receipts on Pace to Hit Record $2.7 Trillion This Year, Congressional Report Says

What sort of daft, inept person thinks this is news? Since both population and the economy should be growing every year, this should happen every year. It's as worthy of a headline as News Flash: Sun Rises in East This Morning.

But the article then opens with, "as President Obama launches into the next phase of budget negotiations with Congress, recent estimates may lend credence to Republican claims that the federal coffers are well fed on taxes."

This hardly follows for those not math challenged, as the article goes on to say "According to historical figures from the White House, the last tax revenue record was set in 2007, when the government raked in nearly $2.6 trillion."

So, the government is raking in the dough with about a 0.4% increase in revenue? Come on, revenue growth like that over 6 years would get a manager of any business fired; especially when costs are rising. Now, noting that revenue has stalled since 2007 is meaningful, but calling 2007 a tax revenue record year is rather deceptive; I bet 2006 was before that.

Some credit is due because the article goes on to point out that "The CBO shows that, as a percentage of GDP, revenue is still below the 40-year average of 18 percent. The 2013 figure would represent 16.9 percent of GDP -- a full point higher than it was the year before."

Now we're getting somewhere. Revenue as percent of GDP is a meaningful economic statement, unlike the headline number. Per capita would be another meaningful way to present the data. But the headline, record setting $2.7 trillion is entirely without meaning.

Ugh, this is partisan hackery at its worst and anyone reading this for actual information, other than information about what is coming out of the fever swamps today, will be less well informed after reading it than before.

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