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WaPo's chief fact-checker calls out Kamala Harris over her attempt to slam Trump tax cuts

Democratic senator handed 'Four Pinocchios' for telling a 'whopper'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

California Democratic senator and 2020 presidential hopeful Kamala Harris has been taken to task over her false claim that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act hurt the American middle class. The assertion earned her "Four Pinocchios" from left-leaning newspaper The Washington Post, with the publication's chief fact-checker saying Harris leapt to "unwarranted conclusions."

What are the details?

On Friday, the IRS released early numbers indicating that the average American's tax refund would be $170 lower this year compared to last, and that fewer folks would be receiving any refund at all. Taxpayers seemed to have already noticed, as several media outlets reported that the internet was abuzz with people accusing President Donald Trump — who championed the reforms — of leaving them with less money in their wallets.

Harris jumped on the bandwagon, tweeting Monday that the lower refunds proved the president's tax cut was "a middle-class tax hike to line the pockets of already wealthy corporations and the 1 percent."


Analysts were quick to point out that the amount of a person's tax refund does not, in fact, show what they're paying in taxes. The Independent Journal Review's Madison Dibble wrote that Harris "might just not understand how tax refunds work," explaining, "the reports that Harris referenced actually mean that Americans kept more of their money instead of having the government hold onto it."

The Washington Post's editor and chief writer of its fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, tore Harris' tweet apart completely, saying, "Boy, talk about a non sequitur that turns out to be nonsensical and misleading," and pointing out that "the size of a refund tells you nothing about a person's tax bill."

After breaking down the case for his readers, Kessler awarded Harris with "Four Pinocchios" for her comments, which is a ruling reserved for claims the paper deems to be "whoppers" on its rating scale.

Anything else?

Harris isn't alone in her thinking. Democrats are betting that in spite of the fact that most Americans are now paying less in taxes, voters will see a reduction in refunds as a reason to abandon Trump in 2020.

According to The Washington Examiner, "Democrats see early statistics showing declining refunds this tax filing season as an opportunity to attack the 2017 Republican tax overhaul as a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the middle class."

One last thing…
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