The rich pay more taxes

Commentator Steve Moore

TAX-CUT VIEWS

BRAD DELONG: Tax cuts driving economy? Don't buy it

GLENN HUBBARD: Cutting capital taxes is a good idea

STEPHEN MOORE: The rich pay more taxes

LEN BURMAN: Under the sheltering lieTEXT OF COMMENTARY

KAI RYSSDAL: You gotta hope lawmakers rested on their Easter break. 'Cause they have a full full plate of things to deal with. Even after they finish Iran, immigration, and Iraq. Congress is set to debate the president's tax cuts soon. Whether to extend them through 2010. And whether to do away with the estate tax forever. Critics have complained those tax cuts benefit only the rich. But commentator Steve Moore says . . . not so.


STEVE MOORE: The Bush tax cuts have been routinely assailed as multimillion dollar giveaways to the Rolls Royce owners of America at the expense of the middle class.

But new IRS statistics on the taxes Americans pay show that George Bush's tax policies actually soak the rich.

It turns out that the income tax burden has substantially shifted onto the wealthy. The percentage of federal income taxes paid by those who make more than $200,000 a year has actually risen from 41% to 47% in recent years.

In other words, the richest 3 out of 100 Americans are now paying close to the same amount in income taxes as the other 97% of workers combined.

It's also a common myth that the rich are hording all the wealth, while the middle class stays stuck in economic quicksand.

The IRS data show that the share of all income earned by the wealthiest 10% of Americans has actually fallen since 2001. The rich are earning less of the total income but paying more of the total taxes.

During this economic expansion, the middle class is growing and becoming more prosperous. About 4 out of 10 Americans now make more than $50,000 a year -- that's up from 3 out of 10 in 1990.

There's more good news. Tax revenues over the past two years are up more than half a trillion dollars — the largest two-year increase in tax collections in history.

Bush cut the capital gains and dividend taxes, but guess what? Now those tax receipts are through the roof in the last two years.

It's called the Laffer Curve: a lower tax rate has increased economic growth and investment and thus the government gets more tax revenues.

The Bush tax cuts have pumped steroids into the US economy and created 5 million new jobs, a surge in new business investment and record worker productivity.

Those are the reasons to make the tax cuts permanent. But for those who really want to sock it to the rich, the Bush tax cuts have done that too.

KAI RYSSDAL: Steve Moore is a member of the editorial board at the Wall Street Journal.

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