Who pays their 'fair share' of taxes?

This is a rush transcript from "The Five," February 23, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: So, the "fair share" debate, is it upside down?

Today, we have word from Heritage Foundation, we should be specific -- and I think AEI had this as well -- that just 50.5 percent of Americans paid any income tax to the federal government. We're going to get into this and discuss it because there's a lot of different angles.

But how did we get here in the first place? Let's take a listen to what President Obama has been telling us for the past couple of years.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules.

That Americans who can afford it should pay their fair share.

It makes sense for those of us who have done best to do our fair share.

The American values of fairness and responsibility.

But we do expect everyone to do their fair share.

Everybody is doing their fair share, everyone gets a fair shot, everybody is engaging in fair play.

And everybody does their fair share.

We can build an economy where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share and everybody is taking responsibility. Everybody is playing by the same set of rules.


PERINO: All right. So, now, we have set up this election year with a debate about what kind of country are we going to have and how much are we willing to pay for it? And then, how -- what kind of taxes I think that we should ad in, how should we wholesale reform the tax system?

Greg, do you think when people see a statistic like this, 50.5 percent of Americans are the only ones paying income taxes, that it gets them mad?

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: Well, here's the thing. You've got to break it down. There are people that still pay payroll taxes, like 18 percent of people who don't pay any taxes.

I'm not interested in demonizing people who don't pay taxes. I'm interested in stopping the demonization of people who pay most of the taxes. I think that's what we're really talking about, is the class warfare rhetoric.

There are people that don't pay taxes, I get it. I'm a conservative. I don't want to pay taxes.

The other thing is I have a solution -- the fair share tax. Anytime someone in the media says "fair share," they are taxed $5. In a week, the Democratic Party would go bankrupt.


KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, CO-HOST: What would happen to Obama?

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: That's really good.

You know, I agree with Dana, first of all. Instead of beating this dead horse over and over again, we ought to reform our tax code. I think a flat tax is something that we should look at. But the fact is these are the facts. This is not class warfare. That 87 percent of the income in this country is earned by the top 50 percent, the top 50 percent.


And that means the bottom 50 percent, that's 13 percent. So, why should they be paying any taxes after they take their deductions? They don't make any money.

PERINO: But is it our tax system that is preventing people from earning more?

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: Here's what the Heritage Foundation also found, that for the first time in history, if you are on the government dole, and it's 49.5 percent of Americans not paying taxes --

BECKEL: That is not the government dole. That's insulting, man.

BOLLING: Can I finish?

BECKEL: Yes, go ahead.

BOLLING: You -- if you are accepting government help, you make $32,748 on average -- on average a year, if your disposable income -- if you are paying taxes. So, the people who are paying taxes make less than the people who are taking. The makers are making less than the takers.

BECKEL: Oh, come on.

BOLLING: That number gets to be 50 percent of those people -- because they all vote --


BOLLING: When that number exceeds 50 percent, guess what's going to happen? It's just going to keep getting worse and worse. And where the makers aren't able to keep up with the takers.

BECKEL: Why don't you answer my point about 87 percent of the people make --

BOLLING: And they pay 90 percent of tax.

BECKEL: Well, so what? Eighty-seven and 90 is not far apart, is it?


BECKEL: And will you stop talking about people on the dole? Just because people take legitimate tax deductions and because, among other people, every president, including George Bush when he did his tax deduction thing, added people who didn't have to pay taxes when he did that. I think it was the right thing to do.

Why in the world should they pay taxes?

BOLLING: How's this? We solve the whole problem -- forget flat tax, forget income tax, go to fair tax. Just tax stuff you buy, 23 percent across the board. It doesn't matter what you make, what you don't make, who you are, you pay 23 percent. No income tax.

PERINO: And there is a way to do that to give a credit, Kimberly, to people that -- of lower incomes, so basically they are getting a little bit more so that they can afford sales tax.

GUILFOYLE: They have that built in. Yes. I mean, you think everybody agrees with this, just by the fact that virtue that Bob agrees with this and says we should explore some kind of a wholesale reform of the tax system.

BECKEL: Of course we should.

GUILFOYLE: Right now, clearly, it's not working. And, of course, with this -- sorry, Bob, but with the current administration, we're by far -- by far -- spending more than we're taking in, OK? This is a huge problem. You don't have to be a rocket scientist in math to figure it out. And, I do believe that it would be equitable if everybody pays their fair share --


BECKEL: The way Eric throws this around about this people paying -- the exact same number of people didn't pay taxes under George Bush, you never complained about then.

PERINO: Well, people did start to complain about it. And on the child tax credit issue, that is something that conservatives -- I think is a little bit of a double-edge sword. The child tax credit is meant to help families. But what that did was it took people off of having to pay that rate of the income tax. So, then can you turn and complain about it. That's why wholesale reform is good.

Also, if I could make just one point -- Ryan Streeter, who's got this Web site RyanStreeter.com, really smart economist, he says, back in the day, Rockefeller could have written a check and paid off our entire federal debt. Today, if Bill Gates wrote -- gave all of his fortune to us, it would pay for two days of interest.

GUILFOYLE: Isn't that terrible?

PERINO: That's why things are a problem.


GUTFELD: That's why taxing the rich is ridiculous. You can take all their money and it won't matter.


BOLLING: Please clarify, there are far more people on assistance now than under George Bush across the board.

BECKEL: Well, because you've been through terrible economic times. Yes, yes there are more people who are on food stamps, but the fact is that there are no more people paying taxes than there were under Barack Obama. Every president since Ronald Reagan has taken people off the tax rolls, every single one of them.

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