Wednesday, September 15, 2010

WSJ: “An Obstacle to Deficit Cutting: A Nation on Entitlements”

It’s a long read, but this morning’s front-page Wall Street Journal article on America’s expanding entitlement state is well worth a look.  The lead paragraphs tell the tale:

Efforts to tame America’s ballooning budget deficit could soon confront a daunting reality: Nearly half of all Americans live in a household in which someone receives government benefits, more than at any time in history.  At the same time, the fraction of American households not paying federal income taxes has also grown—to an estimated 45% in 2010, from 39% five years ago, according to the Tax Policy Center.

As you read the piece, it’s worth bearing in mind two critical data points.  First, the expansion of the entitlement state to encompass nearly one in every two American households comes before the implementation of a health care law that will see another 34 million Americans receiving taxpayer-funded benefits, according to estimates prepared by the Medicare actuary.  Second, at a time when Republicans are fighting to ensure that the Obama tax increase won’t take effect on January 1, the story graphically illustrates the real cause of our nation’s deficit woes: Americans aren’t taxed too little – the federal government is spending too much.