Workers’ tax burden ends almost a month early

Sunday is Cost of Government Day

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The day when Americans stop working to finance the government is coming a month earlier this year, but anti-tax activist Grover Norquist warns President Obama doesn’t deserve any credit.

“Things are less horrible this year,” said Mr. Norquist, president and founder of Americans for Tax Reform. “We haven’t undone the problems of the Obama presidency, we haven’t gotten back to before he started going crazy on spending, but it has started to recede a little bit.”

The Cost of Government Day, when the average worker has earned enough money to pay off his or her share of the government spending and regulatory burden, falls on Sunday, according to a new study from Americans for Tax Reform. That’s nearly a month before last year’s reported date of Aug. 12.

That means American taxpayers spent 197 days paying off their government burden this year, which may come as a relief to the average worker, who toiled 224 days in 2011.

But the cost of government is still higher than in the George W. Bush years, Mr. Norquist pointed out. During Mr. Obama’s first three years in office, it repeatedly hit August for the first time in the history of the study.

Having it back to July is no cause to celebrate, said Mr. Norquist, adding that he still blames Mr. Obama for a historic spike in government spending and regulations.

He attributes recent push-backs by House Republicans on spending for helping minimize damages.

“They have begun to make it a little harder for him to spend money,” Mr. Norquist said. “It’s turned the clock back a little bit, not better than what we were before Obama, but better than the first couple years of his presidency.”

The Center for American Progress declined to comment, and the Brookings Institution did not return requests for comment. Both are left-leaning organizations.

The study measures the cost of government spending and regulations against the economy. Part of the reason for the change was a change in how Americans for Tax Reform calculates the cost of government. Under the old measurement, this year’s Cost of Government Day would have fallen on Aug. 9.

Federal spending continues to be a “major contributor” to the cost of government, the study said. In 2012, it accounted for 88 days, down slightly from 91 days last year, but up eight days from 2008 before Mr. Obama took office.

The president’s health care bill alone could cost about $2.3 trillion, the study estimates.

This comes as the 2012 federal deficit is expected to double to more than $1 trillion from $459 billion in 2008.

“The growth of government remains the largest threat to American prosperity today,” the study reports.

The Obama administration has been blamed for excess regulations through agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board and Environmental Protection Agency that hurt business and slow job growth.

Those regulations cause problems, Mr. Norquist said.

Regulatory costs cover the expense of complying with government rules, which includes the costs of manufacturing, installing, operating and maintaining equipment.

In 2012, Americans must work 69 days to cover the cost of government regulations, 45 of which go to the federal government and the rest to state and local governments.

The regulations expense is down two days from last year but has yet to erase the significant 16-day spike from 2008.

The study also broke down the cost of state and local governments, which has changed much under the Obama and Bush administrations.

State government spending on average forced American taxpayers to work 40 days, while regulations took about 25 days to pay off.

Connecticut taxpayers once again will be the last in the country to work off the cost of their state governments, on Aug. 9, followed by New York, New Jersey, Washington state and Wyoming.

Tennessee was the quickest state to pay for its government, on June 28.

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