Monday is Tax Day, the deadline for most Americans to remit the required portion of their income to the federal government. Thanks, to the Trump tax reform, most wage earners will see a reduction this year in their liability. But ever since the income tax was implemented in 1913 via the 16th Amendment — just on the super rich, the nation was assured — the general trend has seen Washington capture more and more of the nation’s wealth.
That’s because an addiction to spending other people’s money has characterized the vast majority of the political class for the past 90 years. And despite warnings that this vice is leading the country toward a fiscal cliff, beltway politicians continue to play Santa Claus in order to buy votes and preserve their cushy sinecures.
On Wednesday, though, another voice of sanity issued a warning call regarding the nation’s financial trajectory. The Government Accounting Office released a 67-page report citing the “serious economic, security and social challenges” that will face the nation if the $22.2 trillion debt is not addressed. This is not some lunatic fringe outfit. The GAO is a nonpartisan organization that provides information, auditing and investigative services to Congress.
Absent reforms, the GAO found, the federal government will be “highly leveraged in debt by historical norms and on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path caused by an imbalance between revenue and spending that is built into current law and policy.” Absent a “long-term fiscal plan” to reverse this march toward insolvency, the country will no longer be on track to “meet its security and social needs, as well as preserve flexibility to address unforeseen events.”
Ironically, the GAO released the report as House Democrats have given up even trying to write a budget because of disagreements over spending hikes between moderates and the radical socialists now dominating the party’s agenda.
It’s also worth noting that tax revenues continue to climb, yet it’s never enough to sate the beltway spending apparatus. Reason.com noted this week that federal revenues were up $18 billion in fiscal 2018, while spending increased by $127 billion.
Certainly, tax policy must be on the table when it comes to addressing the nation’s long-festering fiscal issues. But simply confiscating more wealth from top earners won’t remotely solve the problem. Spending restraint and a re-examination of federal budget priorities must be an integral part of any reasonable solution.
Ultimately, however, it will be up to American voters to hold their elected officials accountable for their profligacy. The $22.2 trillion question: Does the allure of “free stuff” paid for by somebody else provide any incentive for them to do so?