Who Wants This Tax Burden Again?

The repeal of the Bush tax cuts has been a common mantra from the Democratic Party, especially from the nine liberals running for president. Some are calling for a full repeal of all tax relief, while others are hoping to see large portions of the relief reversed, particularly that which benefits higher income earners. Just this week, Sen. Joe Lieberman proposed to hike taxes on the wealthy to levels even higher than before the passage of the tax cuts.

The truth is they opposed the tax relief from the beginning – well-before it was ever passed.

If the hopes of repealing the Bush tax relief as harbored by so many Democrats were to come to pass, Americans would be forced to return to their record tax burden.

Lest anyone forget, here is some of what Americans faced at the end of the Clinton years, before the Bush tax cuts.

Federal Tax Burden

In 2000, federal revenues were at their highest level ever – over $2 trillion – and at the highest rate as a percentage of GDP – 20.6 percent – since World War II when the rate was 20.9 percent. (Source: Economic Report of the President, January 2001)

Federal Tax Burden Per Person

From 1939 to 2000, federal taxes per capita, adjusted for inflation, rose from less than $600 to more than $7,000 – a 1,100 percent increase. (Source: Economic Report of the President, January 2001)

Impact on the Median-Income Family

The National Taxpayers Union has noted that in 1955 a family of four had total income, after tax, of 82 cents for every dollar earned. In 1998, the after tax income was at a meager 61 cents for every dollar. (Source: National Taxpayers Union – Amount of Tax Per $1 of Median Family Income)


  • Federal Tax=15 cents
  • State & Local Tax=3 cents
  • After Tax Income=82 cents
  • 1998

  • Federal Tax=26 cents
  • State & Local Tax=13 cents
  • After Tax Income=61cents
  • Tax Bite in an Eight-Hour Work Day, 2000

    In 2000, the typical worker, starting at 9:00am, would work until 10:52am just to pay his federal taxes, and another 50 minutes until 11:42am to pay his state and local taxes. (Source: The Tax Foundation)

    Minutes in an 8-Hour Day

  • Federal Taxes: 112 minutes
  • State & Local Taxes: 50 minutes
  • Housing: 79 minutes
  • Health: 55 minutes
  • Food & Tobacco: 44 minutes
  • Transportation: 34 minutes
  • Recreation: 27 minutes
  • Clothing: 19 minutes
  • Savings: 8 minutes
  • All Other: 51 minutes
  • Tax Freedom Day, 2000

    According to the Tax Foundation, Americans spent the first 124 days of 2000 working for the government. Individual income taxes made up the largest portion by claiming 50 days of the year from workers’ earnings.

    124 Days Spent Working for the Government

  • Individual Income Taxes: 50 days
  • Social Insurance Taxes (Social Security, Medicare, etc): 30 days
  • Sales and Excise Taxes: 16 days
  • Corporate Income Taxes: 12 days
  • Property Taxes: 10 days
  • Other Business Taxes: 3 days
  • All Other Taxes: 3 days
  • This is the type of tax burden Democrats support when they demonize the Bush tax cuts and advocate for their repeal. And it is the type of burden to which we will return if Democrats are left to their own devices.

    (This piece is adapted from a paper I wrote for the Senate Republican Policy Committee)