- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2006

As of yesterday, the average American had amassed enough gross income to pay his share of taxes for the year, according to a new report.

“Finally, starting today, you are working for yourself and not for Uncle Sam,” said Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank.

The annual report from Americans for Tax Reform, titled “Cost of Government Day,” said that federal spending required 86.5 days of work from the average person this year, compared with 78.5 days in 2000, a 10.2 percent increase in the burden on the taxpayer. The burdens of state and local taxation and regulation pushed the Cost of Government Day to July 12, compared with July 11 last year.

The report said that government spending also has risen at the state level, along with an increased regulatory burden on small-business owners.

ATR President Grover Norquist was joined yesterday by Republican Reps. John Campbell of California and Tom Feeney of Florida and a group of fiscal-policy analysts on Capitol Hill to announce the findings.

“Governments can be quite insidious in the way they take money from you,” Mr. Campbell said. “The average person is working more than half the year to pay for all this stuff.”

“I remember growing up and reading in some school textbooks that if more than half your paycheck went to the government, then you were living in a socialist society,” Mr. Feeney said. “And now, by that measurement, a lot of Americans are living in a socialist society.”

Even though the room was filled with conservative policy specialists, their main target was fellow Republicans who have controlled the House since 1994 but have continued to support increases in government spending.

“Our major concern as a movement should be how much is the federal government spending and how much is the government taking in with taxes,” Mr. Norquist said.

Both Mr. Campbell and Mr. Feeney are members of the Republican Study Committee. With more than 100 members, the RSC is the largest coalition within the House Republican Caucus and seeks to limit the reach of government both through cutting taxes and federal spending.

This week, President Bush and many Republicans have been touting news that this year’s $296 billion federal budget deficit is 30 percent less than previous estimates projected. However, those in attendance at yesterday’s press conference pointed out that the deficit is only being reduced because more Americans are paying more taxes.

“No one is discussing the9 percent increase in government spending,” Mr. Riedl said, referencing a Heritage Foundation study on spending increases. “These pork projects have become a congressional obsession.”

Mr. Norquist offered two potential remedies to curtail spending: a constitutional ban on deficit spending and term limits for lawmakers who sit on committees that appropriate federal dollars.

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