Karl Rove has a well established history of peddling blatant misinformation in order to paint former President Bush (and thus, himself) in a better light. So it probably should have come as no surprise that Rove recently said of the Bush tax cuts, "The biggest percentage tax cuts went to the people at the bottom," and whined that President Obama was "distorting" Bush's record on the issue.
Take a second to let that sink in: According to Rove, contrary to the impression of, oh pretty much everyone (like the Brookings institute, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Center for Tax Justice, for example), Bush's tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 actually went mostly to "people at the bottom." That would be quite a revelation; I mean it wasn't the poorest Americans that Bush called "my base." But that's how Rove told it:
But, as is the case with so many of Rove's forays into punditry, it's just not true that Bush's tax cuts were geared toward the poor. Indeed, in 2004 the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (under the direction of 2008 McCain presidential adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin) found that due to the provisions of the Bush tax cuts, the highest fifth of income earners would see would see their share of income tax payments fall from 82.5 percent in 2001 to 79.1 percent in 2010 (the last year before the income tax provisions of those laws sunset). The falling share of income tax liabilities is even more pronounced for the richest 10 percent, the richest 5 percent and the richest 1 percent of taxpayers. Meanwhile, CBO estimated that the lowest three fifths of income earners would all see their share of the income tax payments move in the other direction -- that is, increase -- over the decade:
Similarly, the Tax Policy Center calculated the percentage change in after-tax income due to the tax cuts enacted from 2001 through 2006, and found that the lowest quintile of Americans benefited least, while the highest quintile gained the most, and the top 1 percent gained even more.
While Rove is correct that the tax cuts lowered the lowest marginal tax rate from 15 percent to 10 percent (a move which benefited all income tax payers, not just the "people at the bottom"), to suggest that the poorest Americans gained the most from Bush's tax cuts, is, predictably, just plan wrong.