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Bush Practices His Own ‘Fuzzy Math’

October 7, 2000

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (AP) _ George W. Bush likes to accuse rival Al Gore of ``fuzzy math″ when denouncing GOP tax-cut plans, but on Saturday Bush practiced some of his own.

During a question session at a community college, Bush sought to explain how certain lower middle income earners can wind up paying a higher overall tax rate than the wealthy under existing law.

``If you’re a single mother making $22,000 a year and, say, trying to raise two children. One: you’re working the hardest job in America. Secondly, for every additional dollar she earns, she pays a higher marginal rate on that dollar than someone making $200,000 a year.″

``She starts to lose her earned income tax credit. For the first time, she’s in the 15 percent bracket. When you add another 15 percent payroll or 16.2 percent payroll tax on top of that, plus the 2.9, the payroll tax and the Medicare tax, 16.4 percent.

``You end up, uh, you end up with a high marginal rate. And that’s not right and that’s not fair. And we’re going to do something about it.″

As the audience applauded, Bush softly asked his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, ``Does that add up?″ Jeb Bush shrugged.

Bush then took another stab, saying, ″15.3 percent, 12.4, 2.9.″

The crowd laughed and Bush laughed at himself.

``I was trying to do some fuzzy math,″ he said.

Bush has proposed a $1.3 trillion ten-year tax cut.

He was trying to make the point that the 12.4 payroll tax for Social Security plus the 2.9 percent Medicare tax added another 15.3 percent to his hypothethical taxpayer’s 15 percent income tax rate.

Since Social Security taxes cut off at a certain income level, they represent a decreasing percentage of a wealthier person’s total tax rate.

Bush’s difficulty brought a quick response from the Gore team. ``George Bush is routinely unable to string together a coherent sentence to explain his own proposals,″ said Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway.

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