That’s not uncommon. Tax Foundation President Scott Hodge notes, “Americans will still spend more on taxes in 2008 than they will spend on food, clothing and housing combined.” Just think how comfortable the average taxpayer’s life could be if he paid “only” 5 percent in taxes.
And while today, as in 1943, “there’s a war on,” you wouldn’t know it -- at least, not based on how much the federal government invests in defense. Last year 19.4 percent of federal spending went to defense, down from 27 percent during the Reagan administration and way down from the 44 percent it reached in 1969 during the Vietnam War.
These days, a growing portion of federal spending goes to entitlement programs. The U.S. spends almost 11 percent of GDP on entitlements and barely 4 percent on defense. The total cost of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is projected to absorb 18.9 percent of GDP by 2050. In the years ahead the Air Force may, as the bumper sticker says, have to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.
The first step toward a solution is to change the day our taxes are due. We shouldn’t pay in April, when the flowers are blooming and the sun is shining. Instead, make taxpayers cut a check on Nov. 1, so they’re still feeling the sting of taxes when they go to the voting booth.
Oh, and eliminate federal withholding. Too many people assume they’re “getting” money back from the government, when in fact the government’s been holding on to their money all year. We should allow everyone to enjoy their entire paycheck -- if you earn $50,000, you’ll take home $50,000.
Then make everyone file quarterly estimates and pay their taxes all at once. When taxpayers are forced to fork over thousands of dollars at a sitting, they’ll realize just how much Washington spends and they’ll demand change.
It won’t be easy to fix our tax process, just as it won’t be easy to defeat Islamic extremism. Then again, it wasn’t easy to prevail in World War II. But we did. Just as we can, and must, stop Washington’s tax-and-spend policy.