Sunday, July 10, 2011

What a "Three-to-One" Deficit Solution Means.

As the United States hurdles toward the Great Debt Extinction Asteroid, the predictable calls for "reasonableness" in a solution have manifested themselves in the "Three-to-One" Proposal: 3 parts spending cuts to 1 part tax increases. Exactly how reasonable is such a solution in what it would require for tax increases?

The "long term" solution proposes a $4T cut in debt over a decade. Assuming unprecedented fiscal discipline by the government, the 3:1 Solution would require $100B in new taxes in the coming year. Well, clearly, the Uber-Rich can accommodate such a paltry sum! No, not really. The top 5% of income earners contributed about $600B in taxes in 2008, so $100B would constitute a 17% increase in taxes for this group, if the entire $100B were extracted from their incomes. The effective tax rate for the top 5% would be raised from 21% of AGI to over 24%, or an average increased federal income tax burden of over $14K per return in this income bracket*.

And now, recall, gentle reader, that this top 5% of earners includes all households above $160K in AGI - so much for the protecting those earners under $250K.

We should not kid ourselves: the 3:1 Solution would hit hard even if Congers demonstrates remarkable restraint over the next decade, and will be much more painful if they behave as normal.

*Yes, the "average increased tax burden" is a silly statistic, for a low-ranking member of the 5% Club will not pay as much as an elite. But it's likely that a threshold member will pay a few thousand dollars more, which means a lot to these earners.

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