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‘Dangerous precedent’: Pelosi’s tax exemption for news orgs raises eyebrows in latest Biden bill revision

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Democrats have slipped in a jarring $50,000-per-year journalist tax break into President Biden’s monstrous social welfare bill that is estimated to cost taxpayers in excess of $1.6 billion over the next ten years.

The Joint Committee on Taxation has conducted an analysis of the legislation according to The Washington Times. It is comprised of a special congressional panel with 10 senior lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle. They found that taxpayers would be saddled with more than $1.6 billion if the tax credit actually becomes law.

The proposed credit would allow “local news” outlets to receive a quarterly tax credit, “equal to 50%” of a journalist’s wages up to a cap of $12,500-per-quarter. It also ostensibly exempts news organizations with up to 1,500 employees from the employer side of the payroll tax.

Eligible media outlets could receive up to $50,000 annually per journalist in tax breaks during the first year through this program. In subsequent years, the credit would reduce to 30 percent of a journalist’s wages per quarter. Democrats are suggesting that the tax credit expire in five years unless Congress votes to renew it.

Republicans are up in arms over the move calling it a giveaway to the “mainstream news media.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Democrats see it as a way to keep a failing industry from completely tanking… one that they use as a megaphone regularly. Conservatives also contend that it would foster an inappropriate relationship between the federal government and the leftist media which could be used for propaganda purposes.

“Not only is this proposal a grotesque waste of taxpayer money,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said in March. “it would be a dangerous precedent of government collusion with the media. Biden’s collusion with the press has already caused enough damage to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”

The tax exemption criteria are broad enough to cover major newspapers with a national reach. It is also not certain what the final wording of the proposed exemptions will be. It seems to be in flux. The exemption purportedly applies to any “local newspaper publisher” that serves “the needs of a regional or local community.”

President Biden and the Democrats are still haggling over the massive bill and items such as paid leave and child care are being debated as well. They look to shove the legislation through using reconciliation so they don’t have to depend on any Republicans supporting it.

The media industry has pushed heavily for exemptions.

At least 100 local newspapers will close next year and 500 over the next five years if Congress doesn’t step in and provide relief according to Penelope Muse Abernathy, who is the Northwestern Journalism professor that documented America’s “news deserts” The Seattle Times reported.

“It’s a relatively inexpensive proposal — less than 0.1% of the total legislation — but it is the only provision before Congress that addresses the disinformation and misinformation now threatening to destroy our democracy,” Jim Friedlich, who is the CEO of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, wrote in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Absent a strong press, local news deserts are being filled by harmful disinformation, partisan hyperbole, and unverified, often bogus, social media posts. Without accurate, independent news and information, families cannot make informed decisions about their health or education, communities cannot hold government accountable, and democracy itself comes under dire threat,” Friedlich contended.

Juan-Carlos Molleda, who is the dean of the University of Oregon’s journalism school, noted, “This is essential because local news is collapsing around the country. Because the internet has destroyed local news business models, there has been a 60% drop in the number of reporters since 2000. Thousands of communities have no newspapers or ‘ghost newspapers’ that barely cover communities.”

Steve Waldman, who is the president of Report for America, also justified the move, “No journalist loves the idea of the government helping them out. The crisis has become so existential that temporary measures like this are necessary — and this particular provision is shrewdly constructed to avoid First Amendment problems. It’s a tax credit to all those newsrooms that cover local communities; there’s no federal bureaucracy dispensing grants to local newsrooms that the president likes. It’s content-neutral and would benefit newspapers, TV stations, websites and public radio.”

Americans don’t agree that the media needs a handout and they don’t trust the Democrats’ bill:

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