NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

2010 Sets Record For Cost Of Government

August 20, 2010

The average American worker had to toil through the first 231 days of 2010 -- more than 63 percent of the year -- to pay off the costs of their state, local and federal governments.  This leaves just under four and half months for Americans to provide for themselves and their families before the growing tab of the cost of government comes due again, says Mattie Corrao, government affairs manager for Americans for Tax Reform. 

Every year, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation and its Center for Fiscal Accountability calculate the day on which average Americans have paid off their share of the costs of federal, state and local spending and regulations.  This year the day fell on August 19, a full eight days later than last year's date.  It is the latest Cost of Government Day ever recorded, says Corrao. 

"The fact that Cost of Government Day falls in the later part of August is alarming enough.  It is even more harrowing that the 2010 Cost of Government Day constitutes a 34-day jump from Cost of Government Day just two short years ago, when it fell on July 16," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.  "This illustrates the ballooning growth of government, and should be of serious concern to taxpayers who are footing the ever-expanding bill." 

  • Federal spending, always the largest component of the cost of government, consumed 104 days of the average American's life this year.
  • The cost of sustaining state and local governments has likewise grown -- taxpayers must work 52 days to pay off this burden, four days longer than in 2009. 

The growing insolvency of state budgets, coupled with exploding wages and benefits for government workers, continues to push the costs of state and local governments higher.  These costs are supported by increasingly onerous tax regimes as state lawmakers refuse to cut spending to ease the burden of government, says Corrao: 

  • Across the nation, state taxes were raised by a net of $23.9 billion in FY2010.
  • In addition, although excise taxes on cigarettes and other less visible products were popular last year, states became bolder this year, with 12 states increasing income taxes by more than $10.7 billion in total. 

Source: Mattie Corrao, "2010 Sets Record for Cost of Government," Heartland Institute, August 17, 2010. 

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