Perry does have a point where federal income taxes are concerned. “After transfer payments, households in the bottom 60% are ‘net recipients’ with negative income tax rates, while only the top two ‘net payer’ income quintiles had positive tax rates after transfers in 2011.” The income tax burden falls heavily on the higher income quintiles.
But the tax code is far from the only factor that determines whether or not a particular quintile pays its “fair share.” To determine this, we need to move beyond vacuous political rhetoric like “fair share.” While greedy politicians endlessly and manipulatively repeat the phrase, it’s unclear what people — including Perry — even mean when they use it.
The economic relationship between the quintiles is the real issue. It’s clear where AEI’s thought leaders stand. They view the relationship between the upper and lower quintiles as one of exploitation, where certain quintiles extract value from the others. They just have the relationship reversed.
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