Our federal deficit and debt is so huge and out of control, there’s just nothing anybody can do about it. We’re screwed, right?
Wrong. We CAN fix it, and we must, if we give a damn about our kids.
Our debt and stagnant economy is a huge mess, that’s for sure, and the only way to clean up a huge mess is to start somewhere. I once stood awestruck on the deck of an aircraft carrier and wondered, “What was the first bolt the shipbuilders put in this baby?” Some Assembly Required. Instructions: 1. Insert 40 mm grade 5 bolt 16432-A-1216 into the top left threaded hole in whizzle restrictor plate 76-523215654.
You have to start somewhere. And I have an idea where to start the task of repairing our budget and tax code. We could do it tomorrow, it would be easy to do, and it would cost nothing. In fact it would save the taxpayers a ton of money, and would, over time, improve the economy and actually increase revenue to the government. Here it is:
Eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Wait, come back! I know you hate even thinking about taxes. That’s why you, and almost all Americans pay some total stranger to do your tax returns instead of doing them yourself. But this one little change would make a huge impact, and it’s easy. Really! Stick with me.
The earned income tax credit was enacted in 1975 under Gerald Ford. It is, simply put, a federal welfare program. Workers earning up to $52,000 per year are eligible to receive a direct credit on their tax returns, with the amount based on a number of criteria – mostly the number of dependent children. What began as a modest little income booster for low-income parents grew over time (like all federal programs) into a monster. The 2015 cost of the EITC is estimated at $70 billion. But there are other insidious side effects that are even more harmful than the cost.
You have probably heard that almost half of US workers pay no federal income tax. What you don’t ever hear is that many of these people get a tax refund even though they didn’t pay federal income tax. This includes foreign workers and illegal aliens. In fact, a new cottage industry has sprouted where tax returns are filed for illegals, winning them big tax refund checks for EITC and dependent child deductions. These returns go unaudited, with expedited payouts, despite rampant fraud including the claiming of children who never lived in the US. Senator Chuck Grassley even learned that illegals can file for EITC for previous years in which they didn’t file taxes!
When some complain that the minimum wage is not adequate for the survival of families with children, you never hear about the EITC tax refund checks, among many other benefits, that are received. At least 26 states also have their own additional EITC programs.
The most disturbing thing you don’t hear about the EITC is the damage it has done to the American nuclear family. Unmarried filers receive more EITC than married ones, and the direct result has been an increase in single-parent households. Many parents just don’t get married because it would cost them a significant chunk of change. At a time when 54% of 15 to 17 year-olds do not live with a married mother and father, this is just plain wrong.
Financial support from EITC and other programs enables and encourages many parents to remain single. Others live together, but remain unmarried. I know a couple in this category. Despite sharing a home for twenty years, and raising two kids together, she still calls him her “boyfriend”. For many years she claimed the kids on her single-filer tax return and benefitted from EITC. When she got a promotion and her income exceeded the threshold, her “boyfriend” claimed the kids on his single-filer return so he could continue to receive the full EITC. Their combined income exceeded $60,000.
These are good, hard-working people, doing nothing illegal. You can’t fault them. But why is the federal government hell bent on destroying the institution of marriage?
When we eliminate the EITC we reduce the incentive for illegals to come here and defraud the taxpayers. We stop the disincentive to marriage. I would require all workers to pay some federal income tax – even a small amount, so all would have ‘skin in the game’ and a reason to become engaged citizens again. With $70 billion to work with, there are plenty of ways the loss of EITC could be replaced for low-income families. Wage rates would increase, employment numbers would improve, kids would have two married parents, and the quality of life in America would be back on the upswing.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
Where are you goin’ to?
What are you gonna do?
Do you think that it will be easy?
Do you think that it will be pleasin’, hey!
Livin’ In the USA – Steve Miller
Here’s a cool updated version of Steve Miller’s classic, “Livin’ In the USA”. Somebody get me a cheeseburger!