What is clear, though, is that a large majority of American households — about two out of three — pays less than 15 percent of income to the federal government, through either income taxes or payroll taxes.
This disconnect between what we pay and what we think we pay is nothing less than one of the country’s biggest economic problems.
Many Americans see themselves as struggling under the weight of a heavy tax burden (partly for the understandable reason that wage growth has been so weak). Yet taxes in the United States are quite low today, compared with past years or those in other countries. Most important, American taxes are not sufficient to pay for the programs that many people want, like Medicare, Social Security, road construction and education subsidies.
What does this combination create? An enormous long-term budget deficit.
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