Washington Times chief political correspondent Donald Lambro touted a misleading claim from the conservative Tax Foundation that "President Bush's tax cuts further reduced the tax burden of low- and middle-income taxpayers, and shifted the tax burden onto wealthy taxpayers." In fact, an August 2004 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study showed that Bush's tax cuts shifted the overall federal tax burden so that a larger share now falls onto the middle class, while high-income Americans now pay a smaller share.
In his March 7 column, Lambro presented a quotation from the Winter 2005 edition of the Tax Foundation's quarterly publication, Tax Watch, in which president Scott A. Hodge wrote: "Despite the charges of critics, President Bush's tax cuts further reduced the tax burden of low- and middle-income taxpayers, and shifted the tax burden onto wealthy taxpayers." Lambro repeated the statement and labeled it a "compelling tax fact." But Hodge's claim is false. The August 2004 CBO study, which is the basis for Hodge's claim, found that since the Bush tax cuts were enacted, the percentage of total federal taxes paid by the top 20 percent of income earners decreased from 65.3 percent in 2001 to 63.5 percent in 2004. Meanwhile, the share paid by the middle 60 percent of income earners increased from 33.5 percent to 35.2 percent.
In repeating Hodge's claim, Lambro failed to inform readers that it is based on an analysis of only the federal income tax, not of the overall federal tax burden. While the share of federal income taxes paid by the top 20 percent of income earners did increase, this was offset by cuts in other taxes, such as the estate tax. Media Matters for America has documented other conservatives falsely claiming that the CBO study shows that the Bush tax cuts increased the tax burden on high-income Americans.