Sunday, February 14, 2016

Fact Checker: Jeb Bush’s misleading claim that ‘I cut taxes’ by $19 billion over eight years

“People are supporting me because I have a proven record of conservative leadership where I cut taxes $19 billion over eight years.”
Not True using creative math. be
Excerpts from Washington Post
— Former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R), GOP debate on CNN, Sept. 16, 2015
“I know that enacting these policies works because I’ve done it before. As governor of Florida, I cut taxes every single year—returning a total of $19 billion to Floridians.”
— Bush, Wall Street Journal op-ed, Sept. 8, 2015 
“I cut taxes every year, totaling $19 billion.”
— GOP debate on FOX, Aug. 6, 2015
This is one of Bush’s favorite claims about his record cutting taxes as governor of Florida. We wrote about it briefly during our live fact-check of the first GOP debate. But there is more to unpack about this figure, and he continues to use it on the campaign trail. So Fact Checker dug further.
When Martin A. Sullivan, chief economist at Tax Analysts, calculated revenue changes without the estate tax credit and in nominal dollars, he arrived at a lower figure: a $13.04 billion reduction.
The largest portion of Bush’s claimed tax savings came from the “intangible tax,” levied on assets like stocks and bonds. As PolitiFact Florida pointed out, that calls into question who exactly the cuts benefited — the average person, or the rich.

Bush repeatedly says that he cut $19 billion in taxes. But the figure he uses is cumulative state revenue changes as a result of state and federal decisions, adjusted into 2007 dollars. (Economists say it’s fair to use 2007 dollars.) The majority of the figure represents revenue changes from tax and non-tax legislative actions during his tenure as governor. He then adds revenues the state would have received if the federal estate tax credit had not been phased out. His campaign says he should get credit for not fighting the repeal like other states did. But Bush did not enact this cut in state tax revenues.

We wavered between Two and Three Pinocchios. By saying “I cut taxes” he suggests he played an active role in reducing the $19 billion in state revenues. Yet in reality, he decided not to do anything to fight the repeal. He is saying that by doing nothing (i.e., not fighting the repeal), he did something (i.e., cut taxes). His taking sole credit for all $19 billion tipped the rating to Three. Read Full Explanation at Washington Post