'No new taxes'

December 30, 1991

President Bush's read-my-lips, no-new-taxes pledge served well enough to get him elected but was quickly discarded when it became necessary to do so once he was in office. There were new taxes -- for everyone, that is, except, well, George Bush.

Money magazine has just revealed that Bush, by skillfully traversing the arcane labyrinth of federal, state and local tax laws in the United States, has managed to escape paying state levies almost entirely -- at a time when virtually every state is compelled to raise taxes to meet the social starvation resulting from a decade of the Reagan-Bush 1981 federal tax cuts.

Even though the Bushes last year had an adjusted gross income of $452,732, they paid less than 1 percent in state and local taxes. It's all perfectly legal: Bush simply claims Texas, a low-tax state, as his official residence, even though he only maintains a rented hotel suite in that state. Were he paying taxes based on residence in Washington, where he works, or Maine, where he vacations, or Maryland, where he spends weekends, the state levy would be 10 times the pittance he pays in Texas.

As a matter of fact, the Money magazine study found, even on his nearly half-million-dollar-a-year income from salary and investments, Bush pays just 29.5 percent in federal, state and local taxes, compared to the typical U.S. household, which pays 37.7 percent in taxes on the average income of $52,000.

But if this is not exactly a crime, it surely is a disgrace -- like Ronald Reagan pocketing $2 million from his Japanese friends for making a few appearances for our principal trade competitor.

On top of this, Bush's key tax proposal on the agenda today is a cut in capital gains, which almost certainly would further reduce his tax burden -- while doing nothing to help middle-class taxpayers. Really, now. This gives chutzpah a new definition.

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