It’s not a Taxing Problem. It’s a Spending Problem

Posted: April 9, 2011 in reason foundation, reason magazine, reason.com, reason.org, reason.tv

Tax Day (April 18) is fast approaching, which means anxiety and night sweats for about 99 percent of taxpayers.

And bitching and moaning by those at the top of the income pyramid about how they aren’t forced to pay more in taxes. Secretary of State and cattle-futures queen Hillary Clinton, super-investor Warren Buffett, and best-selling author Stephen King have all recently carped about how rich folks like them should be paying more in taxes. King recently told a Florida rally, “As a rich person, I’m paying 28 percent in taxes. What I want to ask you is, Why am I not paying 50?”

Such rhetorical questions miss the point when it comes to the country’s balance sheet. The U.S. doesn’t have a revenue problem or a tax-rate problem. We’ve got a spending problem. Since 1950, revenue from all sources has averaged around 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product, despite top tax rates that have fluctuated from over 90 percent to the high 20-percent range. So despite all efforts to jack up revenue (or reduce it), that’s what the government can expect to work with. Yet spending has averaged about 20 percent of GDP – and is currently at a whopping 25 percent of GDP, a figure not seen since World War II. President Obama’s budget plan forecasts spending at 23 percent of GDP over the next decade while Rep. Paul Ryan’s GOP plan calls for 20.5 percent. There’s your deficit right there, folks.

But King, Clinton, and Buffett can always pay more in taxes to retire federal debt held by the public. Just go to http://treasurydirect.gov and make a voluntary donation to reduce the national debt held by the public. So far in calender 2011, Treasury has pulled in an $125,000! Which means there’s only about $8.99 trillion to go.

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