Happy Cost of Government Day

Taxpayers will sadly discover that this year will be one month shorter than last year. Why? Bailouts, big budgets, cap and trade energy costs and government medicine move Cost of Government Day one month later than last year.

Every year, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation and the Center for Fiscal Accountability calculate Cost of Government Day, the day of the calendar year when the average American worker is done paying off his or her share of the cost of government. While other indices look primarily at taxation as a measure of the cost imposed by government, the annual Cost of Government Day Report takes into account the total spending burden as a percentage of GDP coupled with government regulations, an oft-forgotten, but significant burden also borne by the economy.

With Cost of Government Day falling on Aug. 12 this year, American workers had to work 224 days out of the year to meet the cost imposed on them by government. In other words, for 2009 the cost of government consumes a whopping 61.34 percent of national income.

Last year's COGD date of July 16 was already the fifth latest it had been in 32 years. This year the day on which the average American worker has earned enough in cumulative gross income to pay off his or her share of spending at all levels of government and the often forgotten cost of regulation has been moved into the middle of August. With that, COGD 2009 falls 26 days later than last year, and even 23 days later than the previous record-late date of July 20, on which COGD fell in 1982.

The dates for the states' Cost of Government Days vary greatly. Alaska comes earliest at 192 days (July 11) and Connecticut, as in previous years does not arrive until much later, forcing workers in the Nutmeg State to work until Sept. 7 -- a full 250 days.

To see how your state fared and to view the full report, visit www.costofgovernmentday.org.

The largest component of the total cost of government, according to the report, is federal spending, which consumes 30.36 percent of national income this year and forces the average American worker to work 111 days out of the year just to pay for this component of COGD.

As was to be expected in light of the recent federal spending spree, federal spending is not just the largest component of this year's COGD, but it is also the main driving factor for this year's shamefully late COGD.

In conjunction with the fiscal year 2010 budget, the financial market bailout packet that brought us TARP and the disgraceful trillion dollar spending and debt package Congress passed under the guise of economic "stimulus" have set taxpayers up for a year in which federal spending has reached a record 28.5 percent of GDP. 

Meanwhile, President Obama and congressional leaders are eagerly working to pile on to the burden and are pushing programs that would not only drastically add to the cost government imposes on taxpayers, but would also fundamentally "change" -- expand -- the role of government to reach even further into all spheres of our lives.

In light of the ongoing assault on the part of tax-and-spend politicians who are at it with reckless abandon, the scope of this year's Cost of Government Day Report has been expended to include a number of additional case studies the purpose of which is to explore the effects the implementation of certain policies has had or would have on the 2009 COGD.

The examined policies and programs include the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 -- the so-called "stimulus," cap-and-trade, prevailing wage requirements under the Davis-Bacon Act, the taxation of foreign profits and the recently floated trial balloon of implementing a value-added tax. And you may have guessed it -- all of them add to the cost of government.

How do we get to an earlier Cost of Government Day?

While the overall outlook is bleak, there are some rays of light in the form of viable reform proposals.

The first order of business should be: When you're in a hole, stop digging. Government needs to get out of the business of being the insurer of last resort. Consequently, the TARP program should be ended immediately and all un-appropriated "stimulus" funds should be rescinded, as proposed by the Republican Study Committee's "REBOUND Act."

These actions, coupled with sensible reform proposals such as Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for Reform" and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint's "Health Care Freedom Act." could reverse the trend of Cost of Government Day moving ever-later into the year.

President Obama and his tax-and-spend posse may try to have you believe otherwise, but the nascent "Tea Party Movement," and the reaction of taxpayers at town halls all over the country are a clear sign that Washington's tax and spend policies are not in line with what America wants.  Moving Moving toward an earlier Cost of Government Day may be an uphill battle, but it is one worth waging.

Grover Norquist is president ofAmericans for Tax Reform.  For a copy of the Cost of Government 2009 Report visit www.costofgovernmentday.org