April 15 2013
Warren Buffett has his secretary—and President Obama has…me.
Like millions of Americans who filed tax forms today, I was not in the least bit surprised to learn that my effective tax rate is higher than President Obama’s 18 percent.
Honestly, I don’t expect President Fair Share to kick in more than his legal requirement. That might require being even more in love with big government than President Obama is.
Still, the irony is unmistakable.
But cheer up! The Washington Post’s Wonkblog this morning puts forward some reasons to feel better about paying our taxes today. Here is one of the supposed reasons to be all jolly hockey sticks about your tax bill:
Your taxes are going towards insurance and defense, not “waste and fraud.”
Okay, so who's paying for the waste and fraud? Somebody has to.
Oh, heeeere’s what Wonkblog meant:
The truth is that the federal government, as seen through the budget, is a massive insurance conglomerate with a large standing army. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid make up almost half of federal spending. Defense is a bit less than as fifth. That’s not to say we’re spending the right amount on those programs. It’s just to sat your money isn’t going to “waste and fraud,” or to a bloated foreign aid budget. It’s going to big, visible and broadly popular programs. That’s why deficit reduction is so hard.
If you share my political perspective, this is a reason to feel unhappy about the taxes you paid this morning. An insurance conglomerate with a large standing army? Not exactly what the Founders had in mind. And I’m willing to bet that those “popular” programs are chock-a-block with waste, fraud, and abuse.
Wonkblog also says that most of us feel that we pay the right amount of taxes. Wonkblog bases this dubious news on polling data. But I want to know how many of the happy taxpayers who actually pay no federal income taxes were included in this polling sample. Nearly half the people in the U.S. don’t pay federal income taxes. It makes a difference on the happiness scale.
I definitely find it a kick in the gut to have to pay a lot of money for programs I regard as harmful to the very people who receive the “help.” Wonkblog, I am still not happy.
Of course, I also don’t expect President Obama—whose salary is $400,000 a year and whose perks include a rather nice house near his office and a lavish pension plan—too feel my pain. We cocoon our leaders now to the point that they make tax law in a vacuum.