Shared Sacrifice

A little while ago, Harry Reid pulled the Libya resolution from the Senate floor, and instead the Senate is debating this resolution relating to the budget:

(a) Findings- Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The Wall Street Journal reports that median pay for chief financial officers of S&P 500 companies increased 19 percent to $2,900,000 last year.
(2) Over the past 10 years, the median family income has declined by more than $2,500.
(3) Twenty percent of all income earned in the United States is earned by the top 1 percent of individuals.
(4) Over the past quarter century, four-fifths of the income gains accrued to the top 1 percent of individuals.
(b) Sense of the Senate- It is the sense of the Senate that any agreement to reduce the budget deficit should require that those earning $1,000,000 or more per year make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort.

The resolution has no practical significance as it proposes nothing specific. It is, of course, politically motivated. Actually, though, it is not a bad idea to debate the fiscal contributions of upper-income taxpayers. Far from needing to make a “more meaningful contribution,” upper income taxpayers are the most overtaxed segment of our population. Reid’s resolution recites that the top 1% of taxpayers earn 20% of all adjusted gross income. That is true, but what Reid omits to mention is they also pay 38% of personal income taxes–nearly twice their fair share.

If Reid wants to talk about shared sacrifice, someone should point out the obvious: over the past several years, the private sector has been hit hard and has made lots of sacrifices. But there is one entity that apparently is immune to recession and has made no sacrifices at all–the federal government. This graph charts jobs against federal spending, in constant dollars. Since the Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007, the federal government has been on a wild spending spree:

So by all means, let’s have shared sacrifice. Let’s see the federal government begin to sacrifice like the rest of us.


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