USA's overall tax burden as a percentage of GDP is similar today as it was 50 years ago, whereas other developed countries have seen their burdens increase. It has gone up a bit here and there, but even where there were increases, the US "lagged behind" other countries in taxes as a percentage of GDP.Per wrote:You will notice that not only is the USA the OECD country with the lowest tax pressure, measured as tax revenue as a percentage of GDP, but it is also the only OECD country to have lower taxes in 2009 than in 1965. In 1965 the US taxes were on par with the OECD average (96.(% of the average OECD figure) but in 2008 (the last year with a calculated average) American taxes were 25% lower than the average for th eOECD.
To look at that and than state that taxes are too heavy and that any raised taxes are a no-no.... I find it silly.
It is also true that the US's GDP per capita has continued to increase at similar rates to other developed economies over this period. See this Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Each country is unique in comparison, and I don't want to overgeneralize, but the US started wealthier and is still wealthier per capita, and by a greater degree.* Take Sweden and Canada: both countries had roughly the same percentage less GDP per capita as the US in 1960 and 2010 -- in inflation adjusted terms, the US GDP PC was approx $3,000 greater than Canada and $3,500 greater than Sweden in 1960 and more than $7,000 in 2010.
What does that mean when we also look at the tax burden? It means that the US produces more wealth in real and comparative terms than these countries as compared with 1960 AND that citizens keep more of that increase in wealth that has been produced – because the tax burden has been fairly constant in the US while it has increased in other countries. That's a pretty good deal for US citizens, I'd say.
I don't want to overstate the case. Taxes don’t go into the nether world; they provide a value to taxpayers, that while often not optimal is certainly not zero. The US economy is not perfect. And what is good about it is not solely due to tax policy, though I believe that a lower overall tax burden has allowed the United States a small collective advantage to the US economy vs. other countries and a larger advantage for the individual. And there are fair debates to be had about taxation, the role of government, etc. But the US is not “undertaxed” merely because other counties eat wealth with overtaxation and it is not silly to complain about the tax burden (or argue it shouldn’t be increased) merely because other developed economies have significantly increased taxes as a percentage of GDP.
Do not miss the thrust of American Exceptionalism – that the US has a different way of going about its business and that this is either normatively better or at least works better for the US. The political debate in the United States is largely about whether to continue that unique course or whether to become more like Europe.
Last, on the Tea Party, it is not a centralized movement with a creed, so it is difficult to understand. And even those who in good faith try to understand it will likely not agree about exactly what it is. But I think there should be some consensus about what it is not. Some posts have the Tea Party as the religious right. It is not. While there are certainly members of the religious right that would consider themselves Tea Partiers, if the Tea Party were simply the religious right, well, then they’d simply be the religious right! But the Tea Party movement is dramatically different. If the Tea Party movement was only birthers, than it wouldn’t have been a post-Obama election political movement, because birthers certainly predated Obama’s election. Saying that to be a birther is to be the same as being a Tea Partier is like saying democrats are the party of 9-11 conspiracy theorists. It is a sophomoric logical error. It is also an indication that those who oppose the Tea Party prefer to build up strawmen to knock it down rather than trying to understand why it has become a powerful mainstream political movement – certainly more mainstream than socialism is in this country.
*Countries with underdeveloped economies in 1960 had higher growth rates and there are, of course, wealthy countries that are effectively city-states or are small with large natural resources that have large GDPs per capita. On the former, compare Singapore with New York City, Atlanta, Washington DC, etc.; for the latter, compare Norway with Alaska….