Terrible Cost of Government
to Americans for Tax Reform, Americans finally worked enough this year to pay
their whopping bills to the government. July
11th earned the dubious distinction as
“Cost of Government Day” for 2003, the date when the average American
has worked enough in the calendar year to pay for government at the federal,
state, and local levels. In
other words, most Americans turn over more than half of everything they make to
government- in taxes, fees, and in the form of regulations that increase the
price of goods and services. For
high-income individuals, the percentage can be much more than half.
good news for Americans is that the Cost of Government day is finally behind us
for the year. The bad news is that the day keeps falling later and later,
in fact 17 days later than 2000. This
is due largely to the rapid growth in federal spending in recent years. This
relentless growth has increased the burden of government faster than national
income has risen. The result is
that taxpayers are left with less money to spend, save, or invest, while the
legitimate private economy staggers under the weight of a growing federal
during World War II- a momentous event requiring a huge mobilization of men,
machinery, and supplies- did the federal government consume more of the
nation’s productive economy than it does now.
The federal government simply should not be devouring 40% of the
nation’s gross domestic product!
those who desperately want to see the size and scope of the federal government
reduced, the first Bush term is a very serious disappointment.
Spending levels are approximately 22% higher than when Clinton left
office. Health care spending has
increased 36% in three years, education spending has increased 26%, and
“community and regional development” spending, which includes boondoggles
like HUD, has increased 31%. These
purely domestic spending increases cannot be excused by terrorism or the war in
course both Congress and a succession of presidents are responsible for the
spending mess. The president can set a tone for fiscal restraint or
indulgence, and can veto spending bills if he has the political will to do so.
Congress, however, actually crafts the laughable federal “budget” and
appropriates the money, so the ultimate blame for spending increases must be
accorded members of the House and Senate. It’s
easy to talk about smaller government, but few actually vote against the 13
annual appropriations bills that fund so many wasteful and unconstitutional
departments, agencies, and programs. There
are simply too many special interests counting on the money contained in the
appropriations bills, and those same interests will take their campaign
contributions elsewhere if a congressman fails to play the game.
The American people are also responsible for the growth in government, however. We have allowed our constitutional republic to deteriorate into a virtually unchecked direct democracy. Today’s political process is nothing more than a street fight between various groups seeking to vote themselves other people’s money. Individual voters tend to support the candidate that promises them the most federal loot in whatever form, rather than the candidate who will uphold the rule of law. As the brilliant writer and professor Thomas Sowell said, “If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else's expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves.”