(Newsroom America) -- Republican lawmakers are refuting a central tenet of President Obama's reelection campaign - that the nation's wealthiest earners are not paying their "fair share" of income taxes.
On the campaign trail, the president has repeatedly invoked the phrase "fair share" when discussion taxes and the rich, such as he did during a June 22 speech when he said the nation needed a tax policy "that asks the wealthiest Americans to help pay down our deficit, to do their fair share."
A month earlier, at a May 14 campaign stop, Obama said his position on taxes is to make "sure that everybody is paying their fair share."
Republicans have gone on the offensive against the president's assertions with figures they say are substantiated by the Internal Revenue Service.
"You got the top 2 percent paying almost half of all income taxes. Is that fair?" Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., asked Wednesday.
According to IRS figures, the top 1 percent of earners in the U.S. bring home about 16.9 percent of the nations' pay, but are on the hook for 36.7 percent of all federal income taxes.
The top 5 percent take home some 31 percent of the nation's pay but are obligated for about 59 percent of all federal income taxes.
Expanding that to the top 10 percent reveals similar statistics, the IRS says: That group brings home 43 percent of all income but pays more than 70 percent of all income taxes.
"How are you going to make it fairer? If they pay 75 percent?" Arthur Brooks, of the American Enterprise Institute, told Fox News. "If they pay 90 percent? If they pay all of it? Will that finally be fair?"
According to IRS figures, 90 percent of Americans pay only 30 percent of federal income taxes. That's largely because nearly half of American wage earners - 49 percent - pay no federal income taxes at all.
"That's extremely progressive," Brooks said. "That's more progressive than our European friends, as a matter of fact."
In addition, said Kyl, "people who do not share in the sacrifice of paying taxes have little direct incentive to care whether the government is spending and taxing too much."
"If we want an income tax system that is fair according to the Obama administration's own standards, we already have it," Kyl said. "The argument that top-tier earners are not doing enough just does not hold water."
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