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The graph below compares the impacts of the Democrats’ proposed payroll tax holiday with a tax policy that is more progressive (reviving the Making Work Pay Credit) and a policy that is far more regressive (the Bush tax cuts, which are already in effect through 2012). Senator Jon Kyl, the second highest ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, now says he would agree to extend the payroll tax cut only if Democrats agreed to extend the far more regressive policy, the Bush tax cuts.

These figures disturbed us because even the Democrats’ proposal is not really all that progressive. If the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax paid by workers is reduced to 3.1 percent as Democratic leaders propose, the richest fifth of taxpayers will receive $83 billion in 2012 while the poorest fifth of taxpayers will receive just $7 billion.

Apparently that’s not regressive enough for Jon Kyl. The blog Think Progress notes that on Monday, Senator Kyl said on the Senate floor that when the payroll tax cut was enacted for one year at the end of 2010, that “was part of an overall agreement in which we said we will extend all of the existing tax rates — the so-called Bush tax cuts… we would extend this temporary tax holiday from the payroll tax cut, we would extend all of those. And I supported that… Now if we can do that again, I’m all for it. I’ll support the extension of the payroll tax holiday.” 

The graph shows that the Bush tax cuts in 2012 will provide the richest fifth of taxpayers with $231 billion and will provide the poorest fifth of taxpayers with just $3 billion. For more, read our short report on these figures.