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House Democrats argue wealthy aren't paying their fair share, Republicans disagree

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Richie Malouf | The Center Square

(The Center Square) - House Republicans and Democrats went after one another in a hearing Wednesday, arguing over whether America's most wealthy are paying their fair share of income taxes.

The U.S. House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth hosted a hearing on tax policy focused on inclusive growth, which led to the debate.

"We have the most progressive tax code among any OECD nation, that means we're taxing the rich a whole lot more than we're taxing the folks on the lower income," Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, said.

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United State capitol in Washington, D.C. © iStock - Muni Yogeshwaran

Most Republicans argued a similar point, whereas Democrats argued that the uber wealthy didn't pay enough in income taxes due to tax breaks and needed to pay more.

"It is unsustainable for working-class people to continue picking up the tab for tax breaks that the wealthy enjoy, in part due to the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said.

To clarify, U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., asked four witnesses what "fair share" would mean when applied to a federal income tax, asking how much of a billionaire's income should be taxed.

Georgetown Law Professor Dorothy Brown responded, "40-50 percent, I mean historically we've had as high as 70 percent."

William Gale from the Brookings Institute also said 40-50 percent.

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Seth Hanlon at the Center for American Progress and Amy Matsui from the National Women's Law Center said they didn't have a particular number in mind.

Later, Steik asked the witnesses if the current U.S. tax code skews toward the wealthy, and all five witnesses present said yes.

"Well, in some ways, yes, but I think we miss the point too that 40 percent of the bottom of the income distribution don't pay income taxes at all," Angela Rachidi of the American Enterprise Institute said.

Near the closing of the hearing, U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, asked the witnesses if "deficits matter" when considering tax code.

Except for Dr. Rachidi, every witness said that deficits do not matter.