The average American home is almost 2,200 square feet. An average home in the United Kingdom is a minuscule 818 square feet, in Finland 880 square feet and in Germany under 1,200 square feet. Cramped. Americans have bigger houses and a higher material standard of living — more appliances, clothing and cars — largely because they can keep more of what they earn. The U.S. is a low-tax nation — for now.
Europeans, in comparison, have to fork over much more of their earnings to the government. They enjoy paid maternity leave, free health care, nearly free college and many other government benefits. But they settle for a lower standard of living.
Are Americans willing to settle for less, too? As Washington politicians fight over the debt ceiling and whether to limit government spending, the real issue is whether Americans are ready to pay more taxes and have less spending money in order to finance European-style government benefits.
In the U.S., two-thirds of the nation’s gross domestic product is spent on things people want for themselves — cars, computers, housing, furniture, vacations, you name it. In Europe, only 50% goes for these things. Government sucks up the other half.
Workers in Europe spend half the workday toiling to prop up their government’s socialistic programs.
Advocates for a liberal welfare state slam our materialistic lifestyles — our giant refrigerators with built-in ice machines, and in-sink garbage disposals. Bloomberg columnist Allison Schrager deplores Americans’ “overconsumption” and argues we should learn to live like Europeans. That’s her opinion.
Americans who disagree, and don’t want to trade their take-home pay for cradle-to-grave benefits, need to speak up.
Democratic politicians won’t admit there’s a trade-off. They want you to believe taxing “the rich” will pay for big government programs without taking a dollar out of your pocket.
President Joe Biden told Steamfitters Local 602 last week: “As long as I’m president, no one making less than $400,000 will have a single penny of their taxes raised. Period.”
That’s the Democrats’ script. They’re hawking magic. There aren’t enough rich people to pay for all the programs Biden Democrats are pushing.
Manhattan Institute economist Brian Riedl added up all the extra revenue that would be produced by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed 70% tax on income over $10 million, plus Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposed corporate tax rate hikes and payroll tax hikes, and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ wealth and estate tax measures. Together, these soak-the-rich proposals can’t close the current budget deficit, much less finance the Biden nanny state agenda.
Paying for that agenda would actually require draining the middle class. “If America wants to spend like Europe, it must tax like Europe — and that means large payroll and value-added taxes on the middle class,” says Riedl.
That brings us to the drama in Washington, D.C., over House Republican demands that any debt ceiling hike be linked to future limits on government spending. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer opposes any conditions, bashing Republicans for “hostage-taking.”
But Schumer’s out of touch. A staggering 86% of registered voters polled say Democrats should agree to negotiate, including 44% from Schumer’s party. Fifty-eight percent of voters say the Biden administration has been “reckless and loose” with people’s money, including 44% of Democrats, according to the same Harvard/Harris poll.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen claims raising the debt ceiling should be automatic: “This is something you can’t negotiate or bargain about.” That B.S. History proves that the expiration of the debt ceiling, which happens every year or two, is the biggest opportunity to rein in Washington spendaholics.
Over the last 25 years, Congress has hammered out eight laws to control spending. All eight were tied to debt ceiling hikes.
At stake in this current debt ceiling struggle is preserving what sets the United States apart from Europe.
In the United States, working people get to keep most of what they earn and decide how to spend it.
Don’t let the Washington pols treat your paycheck as if it belongs to them.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and author of "The Next Pandemic," available at Amazon.com. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey. To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.