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The problem is spending, not revenue

By Scott Tibbs, August 16, 2011

In the debate over raising the debt ceiling, President Obama talked a lot about "shared sacrifice" and a "balanced approach" to balancing the budget. What this demonstrates is that Barack Obama either does not understand the federal budget after two and a half years in office or, worse, that he is a collectivist who believes that all money belongs to Washington.

Arguments that we cannot expect those who get government benefits to "bear the burden" of the deficit while the rich do not pay their "fair share" ignores the fundamental distinction between the two. The first group is paid by the government. The second group helps fund the government. You simply cannot honestly talk about "shared sacrifice" when you are taking money from one group to give to another.

That is, unless you believe that all money belongs to Washington. More on that later.

First, can we finally lay to rest the notion that the rich do not pay their fair share of income taxes? According to the National Taxpayers Union, the top 1% of wage earners paid 38% of federal personal income tax in 2008. The top 5% paid 58.7% of federal personal income tax that same year. Obviously, the rich do pay their "fair share."

But Barack Obama talks about how lower tax rates are "generous" to the rich. How can this be, Mr. President? When someone earns money, how is the government being "generous" to take less of that person's earnings by force? Are muggers "generous" when they don't take all of the money in someone's wallet?

This suggests that Obama believes that all money automatically belongs to Washington and whatever we are allowed to keep of the money we earn is Washington's gift to us. This collectivist mentality is at odds with traditional American values of limited government and individual liberty.

The problem is not that we are taxing too little. The problem is that we are spending too much. According to the historical tables published by the White House, federal tax revenues in 2001 were $1.99 trillion. Seven years later, federal tax revenues were $2.52 trillion, after a temporary dip.

Government spending, however, has increased dramatically. We were spending $1.86 trillion in 2001. By 2008, that had jumped to $2.98 trillion. That exploded to $3.51 trillion in 2009. In 2011, we will spend an estimated $3.82 trillion.

We are on a course that is simply not sustainable, folks. Obama needs to recognize that we cannot simply take more revenue out of the economy to finance his spending. It is irresponsible to pretend that we can solve this problem without deep and drastic cuts in spending - not spread out over ten years (which is a sham) but immediately.