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44 Percent Hike in Taxes Covers Obama-Era Debt

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

President Barack Obama has presided over a federal government that has already taxed more than $20 trillion away from the American people. But to cover the federal spending he has presided over without increasing the federal debt, he would have needed to increase federal tax revenues by about 44 percent.

Since he was inaugurated in January 2009, Obama has completed 91 full months in office, running from February 2009 through August 2016. As this writer has reported at, the monthly Treasury statements show that during those 91 months, the federal government collected approximately $20,197,437,000,000 in total revenues.

But the Treasury's "Debt to the Penny" database shows that during those same 91 months, the total federal debt increased by $8,878,290,996,028.69. $20,197,437,000,000 in total taxes was not nearly enough to cover the spending the federal government did in the first 91 months of the Obama era.

To avoid any increase in the federal debt over those 91 months, the federal government would have needed to haul in approximately $29,075,727,996,029 in total taxes. In other words, the government would have needed to impose a tax bill on the American people over those 91 months that was approximately 44 percent higher than the tax bill it did impose.

What the government did instead was tax away $20,197,437,000,000 and then borrow $8,878,290,996,028 -- placing an essentially permanent burden on future American taxpayers who must cover the cost of maintaining that $8,878,290,996,028 in new debt.

Obama apologists will argue that the debt increased so dramatically during the Obama years because he took office while the Great Recession was still in progress (it started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009), that the massive "stimulus" law he signed in 2009 was needed to get the economy going, and that annual deficits have since declined.

So are we now going to balance the budget and start paying down the debt -- or at least stop it from growing even more? Not under current law, according to the Congressional Budget Office. In an August update to its budget and economic outlook, the CBO estimated that if "current laws generally remained unchanged," the federal government would tax away $41.658 trillion over the 10 fiscal years from 2017 through 2026 while spending $50.229 trillion.

That would result in a cumulative 10-year deficit of $8.571 trillion. In the last three years of the coming decade, the CBO estimated, the annual deficits would be $1 trillion, $1.128 trillion and $1.243 trillion. In 2017, the CBO estimated, the federal government will tax away 17.9 percent of gross domestic product and spend 21 percent. By 2026, it will tax away 18.5 percent of GDP and spend 23.1 percent.

Federal taxes will increase as a share of the economy, but federal spending will increase even more.

To eliminate the $8.571 trillion deficit that the CBO estimates the federal government will incur over the next decade while spending $50.229 trillion, the federal government would need to increase taxes by almost 21 percent above the $41.658 trillion CBO now estimates it will collect.

In 2026 alone -- when CBO estimates the federal government will take in $4.993 trillion in taxes, spend $6.235 trillion, and run a $1.243 trillion deficit -- the government would need to increase taxes by almost 25 percent to balance the budget.

Since 2011, following the 2010 elections, Obama has been working with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Since 2015, following the 2014 elections, he has been working with a Republican-controlled Senate. The first spending deal the Republican-controlled House made with Obama took effect on March 4, 2011. From then through the end of this August, the federal debt climbed from $14,182,627,184,881 to $19,510,296,242,765 -- a bipartisan increase of $5,327,669,057,884.63.

Was this because the government taxed too little?

No. In fiscal 2015, the federal government collected a record $3,248,723,000,000 in taxes -- more in inflation-adjusted dollars than any previous year. But then the federal government spent $3,687,622,000,000.

This fiscal year ends Friday. The current law funding the federal government expires that day.

And that means Obama and the Republican Congress will be making another deal -- to spend your money and borrow from your children.

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