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Painful truth of debt crisis: We must raise taxes, even on the middle class

For 75 years, the federal government has used tax benefits and other indirect assistance to underwrite a giant middle-class welfare state. Now it’s time for Americans to admit the truth. If we want all the 'stuff' the federal government provides for us, we’re going to have to pay for it.

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The United States has a debt crisis, but almost no one is willing to point out that the best way to solve the nation’s financial problems may be to raise taxes. Not just on the rich, but on the middle class as well.

The political risks in this approach are significant. Americans hate taxes. And we have come to expect low individual tax burdens almost as a matter of right. But, as President Obama pointed out recently, although we may not like taxes, we do like the “stuff” our tax dollars buy.

In fact, we like almost everything the modern state provides. We like that the federal government helps us to buy homes through the mortgage interest tax deduction; we like that Social Security provides us, and our parents, with economic security in our old age; we like that the federal government helps local communities pay for public education and helps us to send our children to college. Indeed, according to a recent Harris Poll, large numbers of us oppose any cuts in federal spending for retirement security, education, or health care. Significant minorities even favor increasing spending in these areas.

Federal government's hidden role

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