Daily Chart: Time to Raise Taxes?


Roger C. Altman argued in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that it's time to consider new taxes: "A bipartisan deficit reduction commission, structured like the one on Social Security headed by Alan Greenspan in 1982, may be necessary to create sufficient support for a [value-added tax] or other new taxes." Over at the National Review, Veronique de Rugy cuffed him around a bit: "When will lawmakers in Washington understand that the only way out of this mess is for the government to spend less, not to institute a VAT, which will just give them license for yet more spending?"

Seems like a fair chance to toss out some scintillating comparative data on national taxes and debt! Here's total tax revenue, by country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as a percentage of gross domestic product (the OECD average is in blue; the UNITED STATES is in all-caps):

OECD tax revenue as percentage of GDP.png

And here's government liabilities as a percentage of GDP (again, OECD mean in blue; UNITED STATES in caps):

OECD government liabilities as % of gdp.png
The obvious point to make here is that the United States is well below the OECD median regarding taxes as a percentage of GDP, and above the OECD median regarding total liabilities. (Thanks to Japan, it is below the mean.) 

Presented by

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. More

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism, an economics blog that was recently published in book form by Simon and Schuster. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. He is also on Twitter.

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