Daily Chart: Time to Raise Taxes?

By Conor Clarke

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.) 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/07/daily-chart-time-to-raise-taxes/20445/