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RUSH: There is a story in the New York Times — well, it’s the New York Times News Service. It ran in the New York Times and Boston Globe. It’s a really curious story. It’s a random act of journalism in the New York Times. Headline: “Many Feeling the Bite of Higher Payroll Tax, Including Business.” This is a story about how chain store sales are weakening, and consumer confidence is eroding. “At street level, the pain … is plain to see.” This is the New York Times with this story?

It begins this way: “Jack Andrews and his wife no longer enjoy what they call date night, their once-a-month outing to the movies and a steak dinner at Logan’s Roadhouse in Augusta, Ga. In Harlem, Eddie Phillips’s life insurance payment will have to wait a few more weeks. And Jessica Price is buying cheaper food near her home in Orlando, Fla., even though she worries it may not be as healthy.

“Like millions of other Americans, they are feeling the bite from the sharp increase in payroll taxes that took effect at the beginning of January. There are growing signs that the broader economy is suffering, too. Chain-store sales have weakened… While these data points are preliminary — more detailed statistics on retail sales and other trends will not be available until later this month — at street level, the pain from the expiration of a two-percentage-point break in Social Security taxes in 2011 and 2012 is plain to see. …

“‘I wouldn’t expect it to have much of an effect on BMW consumption,’ said Richard H. Thaler, a professor of behavioral science and economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. ‘The people who will notice it the most are the ones making the least,'” and those people were promised that their taxes wouldn’t go up. Now, I’ve read this story, and I don’t see Republicans being blamed for this in this story.

I don’t actually see Obama being blamed, either, but just to get this story from the New York Times about the genuine pain and suffering? Let’s be honest: This genuine pain has been going on a long time. It’s not the result of the payroll tax cut ending. It’s been going on a long time. That’s just the hook that the Times is using to write the story, but I have to confess: I’m a little shocked that the Times is even running a story like this with a Democrat president — particularly Obama — in the White House.

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