It seems like an Obama speech doesn't go by where he doesn't talk about making the wealthy pay their "fair share" of taxes. As if the Bush tax cuts drastically lowered the tax burden for the richest Americans allowing them to benefit at the expense of everyone else. As Obama mentioned recently, "I’m not proposing anything radical here. I just believe that anybody making over $250,000 a year should go back to the income tax rates we were paying under Bill Clinton." Back then, everything was right and fair in the world. That is, as the data from the IRS indicates, complete and utter BS.
Take a look at this chart of the Top 1%'s percent share of income in blue, their percent share of income taxes in red and the ratio of the share of taxes to the share of income in green:
As you can see, in 2009 the top 1% made 17% of the income and paid 37% of the taxes. Does that seem like they "aren't paying their fair share?" Nope not at all. And as you can see from the green line, the ratio of their tax share to their income share has gyrated around 2 for the last quarter of a century, with no discernible trend change coming from the Bush tax cuts. Also, if you compare the final year of Clinton's time in office with Bush's, you'll see there really wasn't much of a difference in terms of the share of taxes that the wealthy pay. In 2000, the wealthy made 21% of the income and paid 37.4% of the taxes for a ratio of 1.8. In 2008, the wealthy made 20% of the income and paid 38% of the taxes for a ratio of 1.9. So if anything, under Bush, things actually turned out to be more "equitable" for the 99%. And the same held true for the Top 5%:
As you can see, the top 5% make 32% of the income and pay a whopping 59% of the taxes with the ratio of taxes to income being around 1.7 over time. Again, there are no signs that they aren't paying their "fair share." And once again, there doesn't seem to be any impact from the Bush tax cuts. In 2000, the top 5% made 35% of the income and paid 56.5% of the taxes for a ratio of 1.6. In 2008, the top 5% made 35% of the income and paid 58.7% of the taxes for a ratio of 1.7.
And now, what about the canard that the wealth just got wealthier under Bush while everyone else stayed the same? If that were true, the share of income generated by the top 1% would have gone up while Bush were President. But it didn't, the big increase in the share of income generated by the 1% came under Clinton. In 1993, the year Clinton entered office the 1% generated 14% of the income while in 2000, his last full year in office, the top 1% generated a whopping 21% of income. How about under Bush? In 2001, the wealthy generated 18% of the income and in 2008, they generated 20% of the income, which is still lower than the level generated in Clinton's last year in office. Again, the numbers tell a similar story if you look at the top 5%. In 1993, the top 5% accounted for 28% of the income, while in 2000 they accounted for 35% of the income. For Bush, their share of income went from 32% in 2001 to 35% in 2008, no different than the last year under Clinton.
Maybe Obama should pull a George Costanza and say the exact opposite of what he wants to say, that maybe the only way we can hear him speak the truth.