President Joe Biden falsely claimed during a speech Monday that firefighters and teachers pay “more than double the tax rate” of a billionare, in a comment that’s wrongness was rivaled only by Biden’s weird whispering.
“I'm a capitalist," Biden began. "If you can make a billion bucks, great. Just pay your fair share, pay a little bit. A firefighter and a teacher pay more than double, double the tax rate that a billionaire pays."
"That's not right. That's not fair," he whispered.
PRES. BIDEN: "I'm a capitalist. If you can make a billion bucks, great. Just pay your fair share, pay a little bit. A firefighter and a teacher pay more than double, double the tax rate that a billionaire pays. That's not right. That's not fair." pic.twitter.com/iYoTwIo5gG— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) March 28, 2022
Which, of course, is wrong on multiple levels.
Firstly, it’s wrong to say you’re a capitalist when you advocate for the redistribution of wealth, and government programs to reallocate money from those who’ve earned it to those who have not.
But, more to the details of Biden’s comment, it’s wrong to state that billionaires pay less than half of the “tax rate” of a teacher or firefighter.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average high school teacher in America made just shy of $63,000 in 2020 (about $10,000 more than the average American worker's salary in general). A salaried firefighter made about $54,000 a year in 2017, according to Forbes. That puts both teachers and firefighters in the 12% bracket for federal income tax, assuming they’re single.
A teacher married to a firefighter making a combined salary of $117,000 a year and filing jointly would pay 24%.
Billionaires, however, have to cough up 37% of their annual income to the federal government. (Democrats are hoping to raise this rate to closer to 40% by jacking up income and capital gains taxes.)
Even assuming Biden meant to simply say "taxes" rather than "tax rate," the top 1% of all U.S. earners (those making $540,000 and above, according to the IRS) pay about 40% of all federal taxes collected in any given year.
Yahoo! News reports that in 2018, “The top 1% paid about $615 billion in federal income taxes which accounted for about 40% of all federal income taxes paid.” The bottom 50% of workers, on the other hand, paid about 3%.
We rate this Biden claim to be absolutely, unequivocally false.
No matter how intensely he whispers it.