The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

47 Percent

President Obama seems wedded to the notion that big government—in the form of the stimulus, massive healthcare regulation and “reform,” energy taxation via cap and trade, government take-over of private corporations, to name only a few things—is the right strategy for our nation moving forward. Although I have grave reservations about that point of view, let’s assume for the moment that he’s right—that big government is the solution.

If that’s the case, wouldn’t it seem only appropriate that a significant percentage of American households contributed to big government programs via their income tax payments? In fact, in 2009, fewer Americans are contributing than ever before. Jeanne Sahadi of reports:
In 2009, roughly 47% of households, or 71 million, will not owe any federal income tax, according to estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Some in that group will even get additional money from the government because they qualify for refundable tax breaks.

The ranks of those whose major federal tax burdens net out at zero -- or less -- is on the rise. The center's original 2009 estimate was 38%. That was before enactment in February of the $787 billion economic recovery package, which included a host of new or expanded tax breaks.

And of course, these numbers don’t consider those who earn “tax free” money in an underground economy that some estimate at hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

Those of us who do pay taxes year in and year out clearly understand that families with very low incomes should be exempted, but 47 percent of all households?

The problem is that fewer and fewer people are paying for a government that is expanding far too rapidly. Even without the President’s new and very expensive programs, existing entitlements cannot be sustained over the long run.

Our reform-minded President might be well served to “reform” our income tax laws (a flat-tax, anyone?). If Barack Obama can mandate that every citizen be covered by health insurance, it would only seem reasonable that every citizen help support the government that regulates it.