Will Rogers once said, “It is a good thing that we do not get as much government as we pay for.” That may be true, but I think we all wish we were paying for a lot less government and a lot less taxes. Our federal government is at historically high levels of spending — in recent years gobbling up nearly 25% of the total economic output.
Every year, the federal government spends more money than it did the last year. Even this year with the “sequester,” federal government will spend more money this year than it did the year before.
For most Americans and most businesses, when the economy slows, they must spend more carefully. Only the federal government seems to ignore economic realities. Only the federal government thinks its spending should always grow and that even while American families and businesses are cutting their personal budgets, those families and businesses should come up with more and more money for the federal government to spend on its priorities. Businesses are forced to fire workers so that government can grow. Families are forced to forgo college savings and cut back on things like piano lessons and tutoring for a special needs child so that federal government can grow.
President Barack Obama is fond of telling Americans it isn’t fair that the rich are not paying more income taxes. He makes this argument even though the top 10 percent of earners paid 71 percent of all income taxes even though they only earned 43 percent of the income during a recent and typical tax year. Obama has an odd sense of fairness. He is troubled that the top 10 percent pay nearly 3 out of every four dollars of federal taxes because that is not nearly enough in his book. But he is completely unconcerned that as the federal government grows, and spends more and more, it leaves less and less for Americans to spend on their priorities. He thinks it is fair that everyone else cut their spending and tighten their proverbial belt, but that the federal government need never do so. He has yet to propose spending reform that will lead to a balanced budget at anytime in the foreseeable future despite promising to go through the federal budget “line by line.” But he demanded tax increases and he got them. His most recent budget demands more tax increases. It is as if he thinks that Americans work for him and his spending priorities and that they should be content with whatever is left over.
Years ago, when I was debating a liberal member of the Ways & Means Committee, he argued against reducing taxes by saying, “We just can’t afford a tax cut.”
I responded, “I can afford a tax cut.” And I asked those in the audience if they could afford a tax cut too. They roared with their approval.
When this liberal congressman said, “We can’t afford a tax cut,” who was he referring to? He clearly did not mean you and me! He did not mean the taxpayer! The taxpayer can certainly afford a tax cut. He meant big government.
Large corporations, small businesses, families and individuals all across America have had to downsize their budgets and get by on less. Why should big government be exempt? Why shouldn’t big government downsize just a little? Why does big government demand more and more money every year – even when we can’t afford it?
The truth is – Americans know how to spend their money better than Washington does! It is time that our tax policy reflect this undeniable truth. It is time that America reform its tax code and both lower tax rates and substantially simplify the tax code. It is time for the government to learn to prioritize and cut wasteful and unneeded federal spending – the same way that business, families and individuals have had to do. It is time for politicians to stop calling for more federal spending, because they are, whether they will admit it or not, calling for less spending by individuals and families and businesses. That means less money for college, less money to buy a car, less money to buy a home, less money to hire new workers, less money to provide for children’s education and future, and less money saved towards retirement. All of this so that big government can spend more.
By supporting more taxes or even supporting the current levels of spending, any politician is effectively arguing that the federal government needs that money more and will spend it better than the individual taxpayer would. But that is clearly a false assumption. If we want to see changes in the government’s taxing policy and its wasteful spending priorities, we must hold politicians strictly accountable in both parties. Those politicians who think that Americans cannot afford lower taxes or that we cannot spend our own money better than government does, should not be given a return ticket to the halls of power.