TAMPA, September 20, 2012 – Just when you thought that nothing interesting could come out of this presidential election, Mitt Romney shocked the world. He did the last thing that any rational person could expect.
He told the truth. Of course, his poll numbers immediately plummeted.
“47 percent of Americans pay no income tax. So, our message of low taxes doesn’t connect,” said Romney.
What isn’t true is what most Republican voters believe. They believe that electing Romney as president or more Republicans in Congress will result in spending cuts that will justify lower income taxes.
Republicans live in a dream world where the $85 billion Food Stamp program or the $9.6 billion Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program causes $1.3 trillion deficits (that’s one thousand three hundred billion). If only those lazy people would get off welfare and get a job, we’d have that $9.6 billion back and…
While portraying Obama as a socialist for supposedly driving more people into government dependency, Republicans openly campaign for “preserving and protecting” Social Security and Medicare, as if those trillion dollar programs ($1.23 trillion combined in 2011) are somehow different from TANF (a.k.a. “welfare”).
Yes, the people who get benefits from Social Security and Medicare paid into the programs, but the programs are still wealth redistribution. The fact that Person B paid Person A’s benefits doesn’t make Person C (who wasn’t even born yet) responsible to pay Person B’s benefits. These programs are no different than welfare, except they cost over 100 times more.
To be fair, Social Security and Medicare aren’t actually financed by either the individual or the corporate income tax. They are financed by “payroll taxes,” the 15% of your paycheck deducted specifically for those programs (employers pay half of the social security portion for their employees).
However, in 2011, those revenues totaled $747 billion, leaving a $451 billion shortfall that must be paid out of other tax revenues.
Subtracting Social Security and Medicare, the federal government spent about $2.4 trillion in 2011. Military spending was about $1 trillion, counting the official “Defense” budget ($530 billion), Overseas Contingency Operations ($162 billion) and all of the associated expenses like the VA, Homeland Security and the military spending hidden in other federal departments like Energy.
The other $1.4 trillion was spent on the myriad other federal programs, a few of which are actually necessary to have a federal government. However, most are just smaller wealth redistribution programs like Medicaid ($283 billion), the Dept. of Education ($70 billion), HUD ($35 billion), etc.
Individual income tax receipts for 2011 were about $1.1 trillion. Corporate income taxes were $181 billion. All other federal revenues, including excise taxes, estate and gift taxes, customs duties, Federal Reserve earnings and “other miscellaneous receipts” totaled about $212 billion. Those revenues combined total approximately $1.5 trillion. The $1.3 trillion shortfall (counting the $451 billion Social Security/Medicare deficit) was borrowed or printed.
Eliminating Food Stamps and TANF completely (something Republicans aren’t even proposing) wouldn’t justify lowering income taxes at all. It would merely result in the government borrowing a tiny fraction less than it is borrowing right now.
In fact, nothing that Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan proposes would justify lowering income taxes or payroll taxes a single penny. They may lower them anyway and explode the deficit as Reagan and Bush did. But that just means someone will have to be taxed more in the future to make up the difference.
In order to lower income taxes and balance the budget, you would have to dramatically cut military spending and eliminate whole federal departments (most of which were created by the Republican Party). Let’s not forget that military spending could be cut in half and then in half again and the U.S. would still outspend its closest rival 2 to 1.
Instead, Romney wants the Navy to build more ships. Given 21st century missile technology, building less surface ships has been one of the few intelligent things the U.S. government has done in recent years. For some reason, Mitt Romney doesn’t agree. So he’ll spend more on the military in arguably the least intelligent way.
Even if you eliminated all military spending and the rest of the federal government completely, Social Security and Medicare alone will still consume all of federal revenues in a few decades. Any realistic attempt to balance the budget must contain a plan to gradually eliminate these programs.
One presidential candidate proposed dramatically cutting the military, eliminating five federal departments and phasing out Social Security and Medicare without stiffing those who paid in, but we all know he was crazy.
Republican presidents have proposed the first $1 trillion, the first $2 trillion and the first $3 trillion federal budgets in U.S. history. No lucid person could believe that, if elected, Romney won’t propose the first $4 trillion budget, possibly during his first year in office.
But he’s going to “reform” Food Stamps and TANF. Oh, and he wants to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts ($600 million). That should solve everything.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
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