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The debate over the Bush tax cut has put our bloated federal budget on display. Unfortunately the majority of Americans still are missing the main point: The growth of the federal government is out of control.
In a report issued by the Institute for Policy Innovation, “The Most Expensive Government in World History,” author Stephen Moore points out that today’s top tax bracket, 39.6 percent, would have been inconceivable 200, 100 or even 50 years ago.
Moore says the American people have been “bullied” into accepting extremely high tax rates by three events which changed all the rules for revenue collections: the 1913 imposition of the income tax, two World Wars and the creation of the Social Security program with its payroll taxes. “The pattern is clear: During periods of war, income taxes are raised and never reduced to pre-war levels.”
Over time, spending large amounts of our hard-earned money has become a “right” to those who represent us in the United States Congress, and, when anyone talks of limiting that right, our representatives scream bloody murder. They maintain that any cut will cause the most unfortunate members of our society extreme pain and bring about the end of the world, as we know it.
In reality, very little of their overspending affects the poor. It does, however, affect the ability of congressmen and senators to bestow favors on their rich and powerful friends, who, in turn, reward those congressmen and senators with large campaign donations which help all those big spenders get re-elected.
In 1920, Moore’s report states, “The federal government took five percent of the national income. Today, it takes between 20 and 25 percent.” Since the 1950s alone, the average household’s tax bill has increased fourfold. In 1999, the average U.S. family paid a whopping $27,200 in taxes.
Last year, during the run-up to the election, domestic appropriations bills shamelessly were padded with some $30 billion in added expenditures in the last days of the congressional session. According to Moore’s calculations, that extra spending, over 10 years reduced the expected surplus available for tax cuts some $250 billion. That money could have been used to pay for the immediate repeal of the death tax.
How is it that this huge amount of money could have been wasted without drawing any real attention, without raising any eyebrows? Have we been so conditioned to the Congress throwing billions around that this figure has lost its meaning, or is it that this figure is so large that there is no way the average citizen can comprehend what it means to spend a billion dollars?
Here are some examples gleaned from friends with heavy duty calculators at the Republican Study Committee and the National Taxpayer’s Union Foundation that will help:
As you can see, a billion is a serious number. It’s time all of us begin paying enough attention to see that our representatives in Washington start treating it that way.