POLITICS

Rand Paul: 'The Rich And The Middle Class Are Paying Their Fair Share'

11/20/2011 12:12 pm ET | Updated Nov 20, 2011

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Sunday that the richest 1 percent of Americans are taxed fairly.

"We hear that over and over again, 'The rich are not paying their fair share,'" Paul said in response to a question from ABC's Christiane Amanpour about whether Congress should raise taxes on the rich to reduce the deficit.

"The top 1 percent, the millionaires in our country, pay on average 29 percent of their income," Paul said. "That's what they pay on average. If the average carpenter who makes $50,000 to $75,000 a year pays between 15 and 18 percent. The top 50 percent of wage earners pay 96 percent of the income tax. The rich and the middle class are paying their fair share."

Paul's statement is a common Republican talking point. It omits the fact that while the rich pay a hefty share of income taxes, the tax system is more favorable to them than it used to be. The Congressional Budget Office reported in October that after-tax income has grown faster for the richest of the rich than it has for any other group over the past few decades.

The top 1 percent of earners have increased their share of total U.S. income while less of the pie went to everybody else. From 1979 to 2009, the top 1 percent of earners saw their income grow by 275 percent. It grew 65 percent for the next 19 percent of earners and just 18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.

Paul did not suggest hiking taxes on the poor, as several Republicans have done in recent months.

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