In a discussion with Democratic strategist Michael Brown about whether President Bush's tax cuts have disproportionately benefited the wealthy, FOX News host Sean Hannity asserted that all “109 million Americans [who received a tax cut] ... got the same amount” from the tax cuts. In fact, for almost half of U.S. taxpayers, the Bush tax cuts averaged substantially less than $600 annually, while high-income taxpayers received many times that.
From the December 2 edition of FOX News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: 109 million Americans is not the wealthy. 109 million Americans got a tax cut under George Bush's policy.
BROWN: Well, you have to look at that threshold where wealthy is how it's defined, and not how it's defined by people who --
HANNITY: They all got the same amount. The same amount.
As Media Matters for America noted when Hannity previously distorted the distribution of the tax cuts, a June 21, 2004, report by the Tax Policy Center (a joint venture of the nonpartisan Urban Institute and Brookings Institution) documented the dramatic gap in the amount received by the poorest and the wealthiest Americans: While the average annual tax cut for the 14.2 percent of U.S. taxpayers earning less than $10,000 was $19, people earning in excess of $1 million per year received an average tax cut of $136,398.
Hannity's remark that “109 million” U.S. taxpayers received a tax cut likely originates from the Bush administration talking point that, because of the tax cuts, “109 million American taxpayers will see their taxes decline by an average of $1,544.” As the nonpartisan Columbia Journalism Review has noted, that statement masks the unequal nature of the Bush tax cuts:
The [$1,544] number is apparently tabulated by dividing the total reduction in taxes by the number of filers who got a tax cut, but it exaggerates the benefits most Americans received because of the very large tax cuts for those at the very top of the income brackets. According to an Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center analysis, when the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are fully phased in, the majority of filers will get less than half of Bush's “average.”