Hurricane headed our way all right - in the form of higher taxes; that'll be the only way to pay for government's spending excess
TCPalm - Link to Article
by Hal Valeche
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Floridians concerned about the coming storm season should also be keeping a lookout for an equally dangerous threat - an inevitable Category 5 increase in taxes that threatens to simultaneously wring the life out of the American economy and taxpayer.
This onslaught is going to come at us from every direction - local, state and federal. Unless we drastically change our attitudes about the proper role and size of government, and do it fairly soon, we are on the way to a fiscal train wreck.
The way we got into this mess was pretty simple; the way out, though, is going to be very difficult and is going to require many politicians to become much better acquainted with reality, something we unfortunately haven't seen a lot of recently.
State and local governments had things really good from about 1999 to 2007, because of the boom in property tax revenues. Florida gets a good part of its funding from sales taxes, and the boom times jacked up those revenues as well. Government responded, like governments usually do, by expanding to keep up with the revenue coming in. This has happened often in the past, and the inevitable slowdowns have been no picnic, but at least they were manageable.
What's different this time is the scale. This boom was like no other, and the subsequent bust is the worst we've seen. The pace at which government expanded was breathtaking. It made promises that could only be kept if the boom were unending, and booms never are. Now it's faced with a rapidly shrinking tax base and all those promises made in better times.
You can guess how this is going to end up. Although it's very easy for government to grow, it's like pulling teeth to get it to shrink. Constituencies develop for all those promises and exert pressure to keep them flowing. So unless something changes, those of us who are still around to pay taxes are going to have to pay lots more to meet those promises as they come due.
The state and local situation isn't good, but looks great compared to Washington. I have been stunned by the speed at which Congress and the Obama administration have been adding to our future liabilities. A trillion-dollar stimulus, multitrillion-dollar deficits, bailouts of all shapes and sizes - all this new spending is going to have to be paid for somehow, and whether the money is borrowed or taxed directly from us, the taxpayer ultimately is on the hook. Don't be fooled into thinking that only those with incomes above $250,000 will have to pay for this massive increase in the size of government. There's simply not enough money there. As usual, the middle-class will bear the brunt of it because, like Willie Sutton said, that's where the money is.
Add climate-change and health-care programs into the mix and throw another several trillion into the spending pot. You'll pay that climate-change tax right at the gas pump and in your utility bills, and you might have to pay income taxes on the health benefits your employer provides you.
And we still haven't gotten to Social Security and Medicare, the elephants in the room nobody is really talking about. We've got huge obligations in both programs we don't have the money for. This would be a serious problem even without the current spending spree.
I don't believe Floridians want or can afford the bloated government being thrust upon us. It will drain resources from taxpayers that could be much better used to get our economy growing again. After years of unprecedented growth, it is past time to have a serious discussion of how much government we want and are willing to pay for, because I assure you we will have to pay dearly for it.
Valeche, a former congressional candidate from Palm Beach Gardens, founded the Taxpayer Action Network: taxpayeractionnetwork.com.