American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks says that in terms of spending, debt and progressivity of taxes, the U.S. is as much a social-welfare state as Spain.
"I'm often asked if I think America is trending toward becoming a
European-style social democracy," Brooks writes in The Wall Street
Journal. "My answer is: 'No, because we already are a European-style
"From the progressivity of our tax code, to the percentage of GDP devoted
to government, to the extent of the regulatory burden on business, most of
Europe's got nothing on us."
Brooks says there are three explanations for how the U.S. came to be slouching down the same debt-potholed, social-democratic road as Spain. The American left is every bit as focused on growing government and
equalizing incomes as the Spanish left, cronyism, and the fact that most Americans aren't paying much attention to the political system.
“Despite arguments from liberals that tax increases on "millionaires and
billionaires" are necessary for fiscal prudence, they are little more than
a way to meet the single-minded objective of greater income equality,”
Moreover, President Obama's proposal to eliminate the Bush-era tax cuts
for households making over $250,000 a year would, on a static basis,
reduce the deficit by only 5 percent annually, leaving 95 percent of the
deficit to be paid by the middle class.
Most people don't have the time or inclination to contemplate the
potential damage each government-spending predation—each tiny political
sellout of our values—could cause, Brooks notes.
“Still, according to a recent Gallup survey, 81 percent of Americans are
dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed,” he says. “Since
Gallup started asking that question in the early 1970s, dissatisfaction
has never been higher.”
According to another Gallup poll released last week, Americans are more
likely to say the 2010 healthcare law upheld by the Supreme Court will
hurt the national economy (46 percent) rather than help it (37 percent),
while 18 percent say they don't know or that it will have no effect.
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