Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Of Taxes and "Family Values"

HAPPY APRIL 15 everyone! So Americans tend to think we're better off than families in most other industrial countries because we pay lower income taxes. Right? NOT! As CCF reminds us today, when we factor in the higher amount Americans pay for health care, child care, and education, the comparison is not always in our favor. Where do American families' tax dollars go and what family "value" they get in return?

For every $100 in income tax:
* $32 goes to national defense
* $19 goes to interest on the national debt
* $15 goes to supplemental programs such as TANF, child tax credits, and
farm subsidies
* $14 goes to health
* $6 goes to education, employment, and social services
* $4 goes to transportation
* $2 goes to administration of justice
* $2 goes to environment and natural resources
* $2 goes to international affairs
* $1 goes to community and regional development
* $1 goes to agriculture
* $1 goes to science, space, and technology
* $1 goes to the commerce and housing fund

Even at their height, the financial benefits of the last decade's tax cuts for middle class families never equaled the financial benefits that citizens of many other countries receive in the form of monthly child allowances, universal health care, subsidized parental leaves and child care, and college assistance.

In most of Western Europe, citizens enjoy the right to near-universal health care. They do not have to forego routine care for financial reasons, and are not financially wiped out by catastrophic health emergencies. In America, this occurs frequently enough that one-quarter of financial bankruptcies originate in medical problems not covered by insurance. What's more, of course, every other industrial nation in Western Europe, and most of the rest of the world as well, provides paid maternity leave, and in some cases paid paternity leave as well. In Belgium, free early childhood education is available to all children starting at the age of 2 ½.

Now that's some family values. But wait--before we all head off to Canada or Sweden, I think we'd better stick around to see how our election plays out. One can still hope for a president who truly values families, which I think both the Democrats running honestly do. Did anyone hear the latest about McCain calling his wife a c---? Family values starts at home, John. Remember that, dude.

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