I thought of Voegeli when reading Bruce Bartlett today:
Federal taxes are at their lowest level in more than 60 years. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that federal taxes would consume just 14.8 percent of G.D.P. this year. The last year in which revenues were lower was 1950, according to the Office of Management and Budget.I've been trying to grasp at this question for some time, but seeing it through the Voegeli lens has helped me frame it properly. It's well-established that in good times and bad, Republicans call for lower taxes. Always. So I guess my question for my conservative friends is this: How low is low enough?
The postwar annual average is about 18.5 percent of G.D.P. Revenues averaged 18.2 percent of G.D.P. during Ronald Reagan’s administration; the lowest percentage during that administration was 17.3 percent of G.D.P. in 1984.
In short, by the broadest measure of the tax rate, the current level is unusually low and has been for some time. Revenues were 14.9 percent of G.D.P. in both 2009 and 2010.
I presume that most of my conservative/Republican friends believe that the state should exist and has some functions to perform. (I'm excluding my anarcho-libertarian friends from the conversation for the moment.) And I guess their first response would be: "The minimum it takes to support those minimal tasks and not a cent more." But that doesn't really tell us anything, and it keeps things sufficiently vague that Republicans can make the same pitch, generation after generation. What I want to know is: According to conservatives, what's an appropriate level of taxation to sustain government without unduly oppressing citizens? Is it lower than 14.8 percent of GDP? If so, how much lower? Can we get a number?
Somebody will provide a number, I hope. But I'm guessing for most Republicans, the answer is always and will ever be: "Just a little lower."