The smallest city in the smallest U.S. state made the filing as it grappled with an $80 million unfunded pension and retiree health benefit liability that is nearly quadruple its annual budget of $17 million.Of course, unions and Democrats making unsustainable promises.
"It's too bad, because Central Falls has always been a progressive city," said Ortiz. He added that he hoped the city would not be absorbed by one of its neighbors. "We've been here for more than a century," he said.Yes, too bad indeed.
IRS data for 2008, for example, show that households in the top 10% of earners (above about $114,000) paid 19% of their income to the feds. Those in the top 1% (above $380,000) paid 23.3%. The top 0.1% of earners, with incomes of $2 million or more, end up paying a slightly lower tax of 22.7%, because they get more of their income from investments (more about this below).Indeed, the US has the most "progressive" tax system. And the "progressives" want even more. Over my dead body. I'd rather quit working than pay more.
So what about the rest of us? According to IRS data, a median-income household ($35,000) in 2008 paid about 4% of its income in federal income tax.
Mr. Buffett may have been referring to all federal taxes, not just income taxes, when he said the rich pay less than others. His secretary and most workers in America do pay a lot in Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, but even accounting for them the federal system is highly progressive.
FDR began the entitlement era with the New Deal and Social Security, but for decades it remained relatively limited. Spending fell dramatically after the end of World War II and the U.S. debt burden fell rapidly from 100% of GDP. That changed in the mid-1960s with LBJ's Great Society and the dawn of the health-care state. Medicare and Medicaid were launched in 1965 with fairy tale estimates of future costs.
Medicare, the program for the elderly, was supposed to cost $12 billion by 1990 but instead spent $110 billion. The costs of Medicaid, the program for the poor, have exploded as politicians like California Democrat Henry Waxman expanded eligibility and coverage. In inflation-adjusted dollars, Medicaid cost $4 billion in 1966, $41 billion in 1986 and $243 billion last year. Rather than bending the cost curve down, the government as third-party payer led to a medical price spiral.
LBJ launched other welfare programs—public housing, food stamps and many more—that have also grown over time. Last year, the panoply of welfare programs spent about $20,000 for every man, woman and child in poverty, according to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation.
Social Security's fiscal trouble began in earnest in 1972 with bills that increased benefits immediately by 20%, added an annual cost of living adjustment, and created a benefit escalator requiring payments to rise with wages, not inflation. This and other tweaks by Democrat Wilbur Mills added trillions of dollars to the program's unfunded liabilities. Believe it or not, these 1972 amendments were added to a debt-ceiling bill.
During his tenure at Pacific University, I hope he encouraged diverse thinking in his classroom by promoting the free expression of all political points of view and a reasoned approach to resolving political differences.I'm not sure why but I doubt it.
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