Government Spending

Why Aren't the Rich Paying 50 Percent in Income Taxes?

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Tax Day (April 18) is fast approaching, which means anxiety and night sweats for about 99 percent of us.

And bitching and moaning by those at the top of the income pyramid about how they aren't forced to pay even more in taxes. (The top 1 percent of filers pay about 40 percent of income taxes).

Secretary of State and cattle-futures queen Hillary Clinton, super-investor Warren Buffett, and best-selling author Stephen King have all recently carped about how rich folks like them should be paying more in taxes. King recently told a Florida rally, "As a rich person, I'm paying 28 percent in taxes. What I want to ask you is, why am I not paying 50?"

But when it comes to the country's balance sheet, the U.S. doesn't have a revenue problem or a tax-rate problem. We've got a spending problem. Since 1950, revenue from all sources has averaged around 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product, despite top tax rates that have fluctuated from over 90 percent to the high 20-percent range. Regardless of all efforts to jack up revenue (or reduce it), that's what the government can expect to work with.

Yet spending has averaged about 20 percent of GDP - and is currently at a whopping 25 percent of GDP, a figure not seen since World War II. President Obama's budget plan forecasts spending at 23 percent of GDP over the next decade while Rep. Paul Ryan's GOP plan calls for 20.5 percent. There's your deficit right there, folks.

But King, Clinton, and Buffett - and you, too - can always pay more to retire federal debt held by the public. Just go to Treasury Direct and make a voluntary donation to reduce the national debt held by the public. So far in calender 2011, Treasury has pulled in an $125,000! Which means there's only about $8.99 trillion to go.

Written and produced by Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie. About 2 minutes.

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