Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy wrapped up the fifth and final leg of its 1999 Texas Tax Tour in South Texas last week. We have covered almost every part of the state—from the Panhandle to The Valley, from East to West Texas, traveling 4,800 miles through 50 towns and communities collecting over 3,600 petition signatures. Everywhere CSE traveled we discovered one thing: Texans think government takes too much of their hard-earned money.
In the press, we hear so much about voter apathy and about a lack of involvement in public policy debates. Citizens are portrayed as apathetic or uncaring. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, we saw that people are frustrated. Taxpayers want lower taxes, they want less government, and they want to get involved to help improve their lives and the lives of others. However, taxpayers see President Clinton and some members of Congress trying to increase taxes and expand wasteful spending. Taxpayers know that the President and Congress gave themselves and federal bureaucrats a huge pay raise. Taxpayers are asking why, with a surplus and enough money to give bureaucrats raises, can’t taxpayers get some relief?
In addition, President Clinton and others want millions more to hire trial lawyers at the Justice Department, and billions more for foreign aid. The Administration said they balanced the budget and created a surplus. Now they want to raise taxes. It’s just so hypocritical.
David and Jodi Gould in Fredericksburg have a smoke shop. They are small-town, hard working people. David says that “after the feds get their money”, he makes about $2.50 on a carton of cigarettes as does the tobacco company. They were disgusted that the government makes so much more than they make – and they take the risk to have the business, pay their taxes and work hard. They are “preparing for the worst where the federal government is concerned” and said they are seeing an increasing amount of government regulation and intrusion.
Taxpayer frustration is well founded. Working Americans now bear a post-WW II record federal tax burden of 20.6 percent of gross domestic product; yet with the projected non-Social Security surplus for the next 10 years is $1 trillion, a surplus that amounts to an income tax overpayment of roughly $14,400 for every taxpaying household in America. Mind you, taxpayers realize that higher tax receipts have created this surplus, not government belt-tightening. But even with these tax overpayments, President Clinton still won’t allow for a refund to taxpayers.
As we have traveled the highways and backroads of Texas, CSE has been listening. We have heard Texans talk about a need for significant tax relief. Thousands of Texans have turned out for our forums and whistle stops to call for meaningful tax relief that move us closer to scrapping our tax code in favor of a simple tax code that is fair, low, and honest. Texans want death tax elimination, across-the-board tax relief, marriage penalty relief and capital gains cuts because these measures lead us down the path to fundamental tax reform.
The bottom line is: Texans know they can spend their money more wisely than the government can, and budget surpluses should be returned to the taxpayer.