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Thursday, April 06, 2006


George Bush as LBJ
In her March 16th column in the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan asks an intriguing question: “Could a President Kerry have spent more than President Bush? How?”
...
Critics on the right have been warning since the 1960s that the United States faces “creeping socialism.” The fact that a Republican president, with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, is expanding government spending at a record rate may mean that we have crossed a line that will make the threat of a socialist future a reality. If you protest that they had no choice to do otherwise because the voters will turn against them if they make serious cuts in spending, you are underscoring the point. One cannot help but be struck by the seemingly ineluctable drift toward an ever greater concentration of economic power in the hands of the central government — and by the fact that the American people seem to want it that way, all our protestations about big spenders in Washington notwithstanding. The Republicans who have put us into so much debt were elected as tax-cutters and advocates of smaller government.

What is to blame? Two things seem to have caused this turn of events. One is the fact that we are becoming a society that no longer feels threatened by higher federal taxes. Why not? Because most of us don’t pay them. The latest IRS figures indicate that the top 5% of our population pays about 53% of all federal income taxes. The top 10% pays nearly 65%. The top 50% pays over 96%. This means that we now have half our country’s population paying virtually no federal income taxes. That’s a pretty big voting bloc. Those folks don’t fear expanding government programs. They are likely to live off them.
This actually raises an interesting point. We're told that all people should pay for public schools, even if they don't use them (those without children, parents who send kids to private school, etc.) since they're a public good, but shouldn't the same logic carry over to our federal government? Maybe the solution to the creeping socialism is to raise taxes on the lower income and help them to "feel the pain" of the wealthy....

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