There’s nothing like April 15 to remind Americans that they’re overtaxed and underpaid. And President Obama and the Congressional Democrats are hard at work to make sure it stays that way.
Tax Freedom Day—the day when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year—doesn’t come till next Monday, three days later than last year. Obama’s big income tax hike took effect in 2013, so your 1040 might show that Uncle Sam has helped himself to quite a bit more of your paycheck than last year. (Be careful filling out that 1040, by the way. Depending on your political views, Obama’s IRS might be inclined to give it extra scrutiny.)
If only Americans’ income had been rising like taxes. Except for the top 10 percent, real household income in the United States has been stagnant for over a decade. Poverty rates are at all-time highs, and the Obama economy has left a record 20 percent of American households on food stamps.
If you’re at the top, you might be doing fine. The Federal Reserve’s policies have your stock portfolio flying high, and maybe you work in one of the administration’s favored industries. “Green” energy can be awfully lucrative if you’ve got the right friends in Washington.
On the other hand, you might be one of millions of Americans who are out of work, or are underemployed, in this sluggish economy. You might be one of the forty thousand people who could get a job building the Keystone XL pipeline if only the President would approve it. That’s not likely, though. If Obama has to make a choice between jobs and affordable energy for hardworking Americans and the dogmas of the environmental fringe, he’ll go with the latter every time.
It’s enough to make you die of frustration. But don’t do that—especially if you’re a small business owner. The Democrats made sure that death taxes returned to confiscatory levels in 2013. Your children will have to sell off that business you’re so proud of. They believe the federal government, after all, is a better custodian of the wealth you’ve built than your family would be.
It’s bad enough to be overtaxed and underpaid, but the pain is worse because it’s so unnecessary. Economic policies focused on growth and the return of industry to America, leavened with an ethic of hard work and opportunity, could pull this country out of the ditch in which Obama has left it.
We should start with rewriting the federal tax code, a disgraceful mix of needless complexity and perverse incentives, and start over. We need a new system for the twenty-first century that is simple, logical, and fair. It should promote behavior that builds strong families, businesses, and communities.
Former Senator Rick Santorum is the author of Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works.
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