Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Federal Receipt: a Modest Proposal

The Federal Receipt: a Modest Proposal

I interrupt this blogging of “Lattice Rationals” to make a modest proposal.

I propose that there be a Federal Receipt. This Receipt is to be mailed to each taxpayer soon after April 15; detailing, for each taxpayer, both taxes received, and how much of those funds went to which federal program. It would go something like this:

Dear Joe Blow:

We got from you:

Income tax:       $ X
Social Secuity:  $ X
other taxes:       $ X

total:                   $ X

We will spend that on:

Interest payments:  $ X
Social Security:          $ X
Medicare:                   $ X
Medicaid:                   $ X
DOD:                           $ X
Veterans benefits:   $ X
... (many more) ...


The spending receipt entries will equal total taxes taken, times respective fractions of the federal budget. How far to break it down is, I suppose, a matter of policy. Let's say, just enough detail to cover a side of a page. No doubt the political parties will quarrel over details. The point is to clarify and demystify. Let the general public be more accurately aware of our nation's true budgetary priorities. Such a receipt will, for instance, dispel the popular illusion that NASA or foreign aid are major programs in federal terms.

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