about RAYMOND GONZALEZ
This year, Cost of Government Day (COGD), the day of the calendar year on which the average American has earned enough income to pay for the burdens imposed by government spending and regulation at the federal, state and local levels, falls on July 15th.
This marks the second consecutive year in which COGD has fallen slightly earlier than the previous year. It is true that 2012 was not without victories for taxpayers—the 2010 elections ushered new advocates of limited government into Congress and statehouses across the country who quickly championed budget and spending reforms. However, the threat of bigger government is far from ameliorated; this year’s earlier COGD may be the last if policymakers don’t take seriously the lessons of the past year.
The 2012 Fiscal Year was remarkable in several ways. First, a protracted battle over spending levels resulted in the first net spending cut from previous year appropriations for the first time this decade. After three years of explosive discretionary spending baselines, this signaled a major shift in Washington’s spending-as-usual.
The agreement on spending levels was followed closely by an extraordinary debate on the country’s statutory debt limit. Rather than extend borrowing authority carte blanche, as was customary, the impending ceiling catalyzed a targeted debate on government spending. This resulted in a final deal that promised over $2 trillion in savings for taxpayers.
Importantly, the debt limit debate did not result in tax hikes to fan the flame of bigger government. Instead, national attention was directed wholly to the cause of the fiscal hysteria: government spending.
These victories, however, may be fleeting. A portion of the debt limit deal’s spending cuts—$1.2 trillion—are slated to take effect at the beginning of next year—a pill many politicians are now finding too bitter to swallow.
What’s more, the 2001 and 2003 tax relief is slated to expire at the same time a slew of new taxes imposed by President Obama’s health care law will come into effect. If Congress does not act, taxpayers will be hit with a $500 billion tax hike in 2013 alone. The gravity of these tax hikes has caused some to muse that the victories of the past year should be erased in hopes of a “compromise.”
A so-called deal that presents tax hikes as part of any solution will erase the ground gained for taxpayers after a year of successful efforts to cut spending. It is instructive that the principled stand against big government has resulted in slightly earlier Cost of Government Days over the past two years. However, if the deluge of new taxes is not prevented and spending restraint is quickly thrown by the wayside, 2012 may be the last time taxpayers are granted this reprieve.