News Release

Critics Dub “Cost of Government Day” Cost of Disinformation Day

WASHINGTON — As the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation promotes “Cost of Government Day,” claiming that it takes until June 25 for Americans to pay for “the burdensome cost of government,” economists associated with the Institute for Public Accuracy ridiculed the group for purveying dubious assertions.

Among those available for comment are:

RANDY ALBELDA
Ms. Albelda, an economist at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, said: “By their own misguided calculations, the cost of government is unchanged from what it was 20 years ago. (June 25 is actually the earliest date they cite.) The real issue is who pays and what we get for our tax dollars. The tax burden of middle-class families has not changed much, but their incomes have fallen, while the tax burden on the richest 1 percent has fallen as their incomes have skyrocketed. The services the government provides — health care and income security for elders, education for children and public safety for all — are what people need and in fact want. Isn’t the cost of not having clean air higher than the cost of regulating?”

DOUG HENWOOD
Mr. Henwood, editor of Left Business Observer, said: “First off, their math is a bit funny. By my count (dividing expenditures by GDP), people are relieved of the so-called `burden’ of being spent on by April 27. They’re on even shakier political ground here than are the [Tax Foundation] folks who create the preposterously exaggerated Tax Freedom Day. No one likes paying taxes, but who doesn’t like Social Security checks, highway spending, flood insurance, bond interest and the rest. Their estimates of the costs of regulation seem to be compiled from a three-year-old Nexis search that netted every manic right-wing invention. Sources seem to be as rigorous and as objective as the Heritage Foundation and Sen. Thad Cochran.”

DAVID E. KAUN
Economics professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Mr. Kaun said: “Federal, state and local taxes represent about 32 percent of Gross Domestic Product, far from the 48 percent implied. The vast majority of American wage earners pay substantially less than these average rates. Thus, even if the calculation were honest, the number itself would remain meaningless for most taxpayers. It is worth noting that the tax share of income in the United States is far below many of the world’s industrialized nations. Using their logic, most Americans wind up working not only for the government, but for Safeway, General Motors, Blue Cross, Universal Studios … as they pay for their groceries and buy their cars, health insurance and movie tickets.”

For more information, contact Theresa Caldwell or Sam Husseini at the Institute for Public Accuracy, (202) 347-0020.