Monday, April 12, 2010

Getting the debt under control

Tax increases alone

If lawmakers opted to reduce the deficit strictly through tax increases, they would need raise more than $500 billion in new revenue, according to a Tax Policy Center study.

And they'd have to hike tax rates by a third to pull it off -- the bottom rate would go from 10% to 13.7%, and the top rate would rise from 35% today to 48%.

If they just wanted to raise the top three rates, they'd have to jack them up by 88%. So, for example, the top rate would rise from 35% to 66%.

To hit the deficit target by only raising rates on the highest-income households would require a far more drastic jump. Rates for individuals making more than $200,000 (or $250,000 for couples) would more than double, with the top rate approaching 77%.

All of these estimates don't account for how those taxpayers would behave when faced with higher taxes. If they did, the rate jumps would need to be even higher, said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.

Spending cuts alone

Trying to achieve the same deficit reduction without increasing taxes could be done by slashing spending.

But the cuts would be harsh. For instance, discretionary spending would need to be cut by 40%, according to an analysis by Sullivan. Discretionary spending pays for everything except Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest on the debt. In other words, it funds most federal government services and support, including defense, education and infrastructure.

Alternatively, lawmakers could just cut mandatory spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security by 25%.

Or they could just cut total spending -- both discretionary and mandatory -- by 13%.
Read the rest here.

Note: The above figures DO NOT balance the budget. They reduce deficits to levels that some suggest would be sustainable as a percentage of Debt/GDP. Color me skeptical.

1 comment:

Chris said...

We should revert to the invome tax structure used in the 1950s. That'd get it sorted.