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CURL: The state of the Union — worse than you thought

- - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Tax Day has come and gone (sort of like Spring in the Northeast). Left behind is just a cold bitterness that is getting colder and bitter-er by the day (not talking about the weather here).

As always, April 15 was a day that brought terrible news, all cataloged by irrefutable numbers. The stark reality of just how bad things are in Barack Obama's Amerika once again became crystal clear (don't worry, the pathetic media will soon return to hyping the president's message of "income inequality").

But for today, numbers, and lots of them.

Did you know that 86,429,000 taxpaying Americans pay for 147,802,000 benefit takers? Well, they do, according to an excellent report from cnsnews.com. That number excludes veterans, and, of course, millions have earned their benefits through years of work. Millions more are truly disabled and thus worthy of support from the healthy.

But the number is nonetheless staggering — for every person working his butt off across the country, 1.7 people are doing nothing, simply sitting on their cans and getting money sent to them by Uncle Sam.

"How much more can the 86,429,000 endure?" Terence P. Jeffrey wrote in the article. "As more baby boomers retire, and as Obamacare comes fully online — with its expanded Medicaid rolls and federally subsidized health insurance for anyone earning less than 400 percent of the poverty level — the number of takers will inevitably expand. And the number of full-time private-sector workers might also contract."

He draws a dramatic conclusion: "Eventually, there will be too few carrying too many, and America will break."

More numbers for the 51 percent of Americans who paid taxes on April 15 (oh, did you forget that 49 percent don't pay a cent in income taxes? Well, they don't). For each $1 bill you sent in, your federal government spent it like this:

33.25 cents to Social Security and unemployment benefits.

Nearly a quarter (24.5 cents) to Medicare.

17 cents to America's military.

6 cents to the interest on debt.

That's right, the government pours out 80.75 cents in mandatory spending (yes, the military budget is all but locked in) before it even gets working on America's problems. Again, those numbers are going to soar as millions of baby boomers take Security Security and Medicare.

Still more numbers: 23 percent of those surveyed by Gallup said they think "lower-income people" pay too little in taxes. That number stood at just 12 percent throughout much of the 2000s, but has been on the rise since 2010, when the GOP took over Congress. By 2012, when Republican Mitt Romney made the disparity of who pays and who doesn't an issue in the presidential election, that number hits its modern record of 24 percent.

Meanwhile, the Gallup poll showed a new record in the percentage of people who think the middle class pays too much in taxes. Forty-nine percent said taxes are too high, up from 36 percent in 2012.

Another study, this one by the Tax Foundation, found that Americans will spend more in taxes than they do on housing, food and clothing. That's right: They're going to fork over some $4.5 trillion — that's trillion with a "T" — to the federal and local governments, but spend just $4 trillion on themselves.

The New York Times dropped an interesting number in an unusual report (for the superliberal paper), headlined "In Many Cities, Rent Is Rising Out of Reach of Middle Class." Workers should spend no more than 30 percent of their wages for rent and utilities, but there are 90 cities where median rent is above median income.

"Nationally, half of all renters are now spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, according to a comprehensive Harvard study, up from 38 percent of renters in 2000. In December, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan declared 'the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has ever known,'" the paper said.

You don't have to be a tinfoil-hat-wearing nutball to see that something is coming, something big. America is out of whack, and Americans are getting frustrated. Quietly frustrated. Next, they'll get angry. Then they'll get noisy. And then, Americans will say, "Enough."

Frankly, it's going to take at least that to turn things around. And maybe more.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.