Happy Cost of Government Day

This year it took Americans 197 days of labor to pay for local, state, and federal government.

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Do you ever wonder how much the government actually costs you? Not just as a percentage of total income over the course of year, but in terms of how much time you spend working for yourself versus the amount of time spent making enough money to cover your share of the cost of the government?

Every year, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation, a nonpartisan, pro-taxpayer group headed by activist Grover G. Norquist, publishes a " Cost of Government Day" analysis that determines until what date during the calendar year the average American must work to pay for the full costs of government spending and regulation.

"This year, Cost of Government Day falls on July 15, meaning Americans labor a full 197 days into the year to pay for local, state and federal government spending and regulations," the foundation said in a release. "This year marks the fourth straight year COGD has fallen in July. Prior to the Obama Administration, COGD had never fallen later than June 26."

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

The largest driver of these costs, Americans for Tax Reform explained, is spending: "This year, Americans must work a full 88 days to pay for the costs of federal spending. This is in addition to the 40 days spent working to pay for state and local spending." Proving once again that former President Ronald Reagan was right when he said, "Government is too big and it spends too much."

"Another growing concern," the group said, are regulatory costs, as "taxpayers are forced to labor 69 days to pay for federal and state regulations, a workload that will increase exponentially as regulatory agencies continue to grow."

Things are not much better in the states. "As in past years, taxpayers in Connecticut must work the longest to celebrate their COGD, laboring all the way until August 9 to pay off the full costs of government. Taxpayers in Tennessee worked the shortest amount of time to pay off their burden of government, laboring until June 28."

Those who argue the Obama administration has been modest or centrist in its approach to governance should, in the face of these numbers, take the time to rethink their arguments. With the American people in all 50 states spending more than half a year paying for government, it is in fact fair to wonder if we are getting the kind of government we are paying for.

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