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This blog is supposed to be about Missouri politics mostly, but this post isn’t. It’s an itty, bitty one about taxes. But, hey, Missourians pay taxes – and with election season heating up, the Bush tax cuts set to expire, and politicians gassing about out-of-control spending and deficits (which most GOP types only seem to have discovered in 2009), and bellyaching about how rich folks would stimulate the economy if we would just cut them some tax slack, the topic has got to be present in most of our minds.

Via Ezra Klein we learn about Third Way’s proposal to give each citizen a tax receipt that would let us know into which category of spending each of our tax dollars are going.  The real fun, though is this online calculator that allows you to plug in your federal tax and FICA in order to generate a personalized tax receipt. I did it this morning and from now on, every time I go to Yosimite, I’ll think about what a bargain it is.

To give you an idea about what the final product looks like, here’s a sample receipt:

Update: Matthew Yglesias has some quibbles about the calculation of a few of the categories; there are also some hidden complexities that make spending comparisons tricky. For instance, a comment on the Klein post notes:

… it creates the illusion that the nation as a whole is paying a lot more towards Social Security than towards the military. In actuality, they two costs are approximately equal. It’s just that Social Security is paid for by a regressive tax while military spending is paid for by a progressive tax.

Update 2: It seemed so obvious to me yesterday, that I forgot to restate the real point of such a receipt. When folks claim that they’re going to cut the deficit by chopping off this or that piece of social spending, the Receipt make it clear to all how bogus those claims are.

If the deficit peacocks want to cut the deficit, they’ve got to cut Social Security, Medicare and/or Military spending – and many agree that Medicare is the worst offender in terms of projected growth in costs. One way to tackle Medicare spending is to bring health care costs down – the goal of the Affordable Care Act. So why did the GOP deficit fearmongers work so hard to stall it and water it down; and why are they promising to repeal it?