You know the expression “The numbers don’t lie”? Well, after you spend a few minutes perusing The Heritage Foundation’s new “2008 Federal Revenue and Spending Book of Charts,” you may wish they did.
Ever wonder where your tax money goes? How much the “richest 1 percent” shells out in taxes? How bad congressional pork-barrel spending is? What it will take to pay Social Security and Medicare benefits to the baby boomers? How high the federal budget deficit is set to climb in the decades ahead?
The pathetic truth is boldly presented in Heritage’s Book of Charts, along with the answers to many other questions. Our analysts used official calculations from the federal government’s own budget, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Census Bureau, as well as information from watchdog groups such as Citizens Against Government Waste, to outline what can only be described as a slow-motion fiscal train wreck.
Let’s start with something that all of us -- rich, poor and in between -- can relate to: how much we pay per household in taxes.
In 1965, the tax bill (inflation-adjusted to 2007 dollars) was $10,800. By the early 1990s, it had risen to $15,801. By 2000, the total had spiked to $23,151 in taxes per household. It’s a tad lower now ($22,100), but the amount each household pays is still more than twice what it was 40 years ago. Remember that the next time you hear some politician claim we have to raise taxes!
That’s not the only counterintuitive point you find in Heritage’s chart book. Take how much high-income households pay in taxes. Is the top 1 percent paying a larger or smaller share of taxes today than in 1983? How about the bottom 20 percent -- larger or smaller?
If you listen to some politicians, you probably think the tax burden got lighter for the rich and heavier for the poor. But that’s not at all what the Congressional Budget Office numbers show. The top 1 percent of earners went from paying 27.7 percent of the tax burden to 31.2 percent -- an increase of 12.6 percent. The bottom 20 percent, meanwhile, saw its share of the tax burden go from 9.1 percent to 4.3 percent. That’s right: It was actually cut in half, and then some. Try finding that out by reading The New York Times or watching CBS News.