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Obama and Congress are seriously considering imposing a value added tax or VAT on us and that should be a severe cause for alarm. The last thing we need is to be burdened with another tax. Or, more to the point, the government has taken enough of our money and it is time to say:
VAT is an oppressive and to some extent hidden tax which makes it easier for the government to levy it and then relentlessly raise it. And when the government has more of our money they find that it’s never enough – so they spend even more than they collect. Ad infinitum.
This VAT has helped create the stagnation and miasma of indolence in Europe and we must make sure that it is never implemented here.
VAT Will Spell Anything But Relief
Investors Business Daily 04/08/2010
Taxes: Asked why he robbed banks, thief Willie Sutton famously replied: "That's where the money is." The same logic is now being used by the White House as it floats the idea of a broad new tax on all consumption.
White House adviser and former Fed chief Paul Volcker, one of the most respected men on Wall Street, broached the delicate topic of taxes Tuesday.
In his remarks, he said a value-added tax "was not as toxic an idea" as it had been in the past, and suggested it might be a way for the U.S. to escape its growing budget crisis.
"If at the end of the day we need to raise taxes, we should raise taxes," he said.
No doubt this is a trial balloon. Based on the $10 trillion in budget deficits expected over the next 10 years, this is one crisis the White House won't want to waste, as Rahm Emanuel would say.
Already, it's waged open war on the rich — vowing to take as much from those having $200,000 in income as it can. The 10-year budget plan submitted by President Obama in fact hits that group with $636 billion in new taxes.
But that's not even close to being enough to pay for the Democrats' reckless expansion of government.
As we've noted here before, Obama's new budget spends $45 trillion from 2011 to 2020. That's a 70% rise in spending from the previous decade. The only problem is, we're expected to collect only $35 trillion in taxes — and even that might be an overestimate, based on recent dismal economic growth.
So just going after the rich can't close that gap. The wealthy literally don't have the money. And even if we raised income taxes on everyone, which is highly unlikely, we would have to double current income tax rates to balance the budget, according to a recent Tax Foundation study.
So with deficits averaging $1 trillion a year through 2020 and spending soaring, where will the money come from?
Answer: A VAT. Only a VAT will give the government enough money to let it continue its out-of-control spending — which now seems to be the Democrats' main political goal.
Right now, the poor and the middle class pay virtually no taxes at all. In 2008, 49% of all households paid no taxes, new data show.
Those who had no tax liability at all receive about $70 billion in benefits and cash a year. In effect, for many, tax day has become an opportunity to collect a giant welfare check.
Yet, despite Obama's pledge that those with incomes below $200,000 wouldn't see their taxes raised "one dime," the fact is, they're the ultimate target of a VAT.
Yes, Obama is giving them lots of goodies. But he and the Democrats in charge of Congress know they'll have to tax the poor and the middle class to create the cradle-to-grave welfare state they so desperately want. It's the dream of all so-called progressives.
And it's already happening. In the health care takeover just signed into law, there are 13 new taxes — many of which will hit the poor and the middle class.
Still, that's penny-ante stuff. A VAT, as used in 150 countries around the world, would be a real money gusher — a Trojan horse for tax hikes on all Americans, especially the poor and middle class.
A VAT, remember, is really a tax on consumption. And since the poor and middle class spend a much greater ratio of their incomes on consumption than the wealthy, they'll bear the brunt.
A recent report from the liberal Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center said: "A major concern with a VAT is that it could be regressive, raising tax burdens proportionately more on lower income than on higher income taxpayers."
Even so, many Democrats point favorably to the European Union's welfare states, where VATs as high as 20% have long been a staple of public finance. The U.S., these critics suggest, would do well to imitate our EU friends.
As the Cato Institute's Daniel Mitchell recently noted, "real-world evidence shows that VATs are strongly linked with both higher overall tax burdens and more government spending."
Indeed, in 1965, just before the EU adopted the VAT broadly, the average EU tax burden was about 28%, vs. 25% in the U.S.
By 2006, the EU tax burden was 40% — compared with 28% in the U.S.
The VAT tax grew and grew and grew. But Europe's economies didn't. Now, thanks to too much government and excessive taxation, the EU is almost hopelessly behind the U.S. in terms of both innovation and productivity. Is that the future we want?
No. The VAT's a terrible idea. It would bring higher taxes, slower growth, fewer jobs and lower standards of living. But it would do one thing well: give bureaucrats a lot more of your money to spend.
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Many people consider Obama to be the anti-Christ which that we were warned about and this may or may not be true. However, he surely is the anti-Christ with regard to his unalloyed fiscal irresponsibility as relates to the reckless costs of Obamacare which are placing the United States on the precipice of bankruptcy. Obama is also the anti-Reagan.
In the following cogent editorial, Charles Krauthammer elucidates a possible partial solution to the unpaid for healthcare costs: imposition of a value added tax. It is his strong assertion that such a national sales tax will be inevitable unless Obamacare is revoked. If this indeed comes to fruition, our future and that of our progeny looks bleak.
The VAT Cometh
Charles Krauthammer 3/26/2010
WASHINGTON -- As the night follows the day, the VAT cometh.
With the passage of Obamacare, creating a vast new middle-class entitlement, a national sales tax of the kind near-universal in Europe is inevitable.
We are now $8 trillion in debt. The Congressional Budget Office projects that another $12 trillion will be added over the next decade. Obamacare, when stripped of its budgetary gimmicks -- the unfunded $200 billion-plus doctor fix, the double counting of Medicare cuts, the 10-6 sleight-of-hand (counting 10 years of revenue and only 6 years of outflows) -- is at minimum a $2 trillion new entitlement.
It will vastly increase the debt. But even if it were revenue-neutral, Obamacare pre-empts and appropriates for itself the best and easiest means of reducing the existing deficit. Obamacare's $500 billion of cuts in Medicare and $600 billion in tax hikes are no longer available for deficit reduction. They are siphoned off for the new entitlement of insuring the uninsured.
This is fiscally disastrous because, as President Obama himself explained last year in unveiling his grand transformational policies, our unsustainable fiscal path requires control of entitlement spending, the most ruinous of which is out-of-control health care costs.
Obamacare was sold on the premise that, as Nancy Pelosi put it, "health care reform is entitlement reform. Our budget cannot take this upward spiral of cost." But the bill enacted on Tuesday accelerates the spiral: It radically expands Medicaid (adding 15 million new recipients/dependents) and shamelessly raids Medicare by spending on a new entitlement the $500 billion in cuts and the yield from the Medicare tax hikes.
Obama knows that the debt bomb is looming, that Moody's is warning that the Treasury's AAA rating is in jeopardy, that we are headed for a run on the dollar and/or hyperinflation if nothing is done.
Hence his deficit reduction commission. It will report (surprise!) after the November elections.
What will it recommend? What can it recommend? Sure, Social Security can be trimmed by raising the retirement age, introducing means testing and changing the indexing formula from wage growth to price inflation.
But this won't be nearly enough. As Obama has repeatedly insisted, the real money is in health care costs -- which are now locked in place by the new Obamacare mandates.
That's where the value-added tax comes in. For the politician, it has the virtue of expediency: People are used to sales taxes, and this one produces a river of revenue. Every 1 percent of VAT would yield up to $1 trillion a decade (depending on what you exclude -- if you exempt food, for example, the yield would be more like $900 billion).
It's the ultimate cash cow. Obama will need it. By introducing universal health care, he has pulled off the largest expansion of the welfare state in four decades. And the most expensive. Which is why all of the European Union has the VAT. Huge VATs. Germany: 19 percent. France and Italy: 20 percent. Most of Scandinavia: 25 percent.
American liberals have long complained that ours is the only advanced industrial country without universal health care.
Well, now we shall have it. And as we approach European levels of entitlements, we will need European levels of taxation.
Obama set out to be a consequential president, on the order of Ronald Reagan. With the VAT, Obama's triumph will be complete. He will have succeeded in reversing Reaganism. Liberals have long complained that Reagan's strategy was to starve the (governmental) beast in order to shrink it: First, cut taxes -- then ultimately you have to reduce government spending.
Obama's strategy is exactly the opposite: Expand the beast, and then feed it. Spend first -- which then forces taxation. Now that, with the institution of universal health care, we are becoming the full entitlement state, the beast will have to be fed.
And the VAT is the only trough in creation large enough.
As a substitute for the income tax, the VAT would be a splendid idea. Taxing consumption makes infinitely more sense than taxing work. But to feed the liberal social-democratic project, the VAT must be added on top of the income tax.
Ultimately, even that won't be enough. As the population ages and health care becomes increasingly expensive, the only way to avoid fiscal ruin (as Britain, for example, has discovered) is health care rationing.
It will take a while to break the American populace to that idea. In the meantime, get ready for the VAT. Or start fighting it.
Copyright 2010, Washington Post Writers Group
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