Some folks love to compare the U.S. to Europe unfavorably.
Though I’m fine with learning from European states and cultures (hey: I like Switzerland!), I shudder when I hear someone suggest that America should be “more like Europe.”
Obviously, I’m not with our current president on this. He says we should tax the rich more, make them pay “their fair share.” And his left-leaning admirers append the phrase, almost under their breath, “like in Europe.”
But reserve some of that “ugh” not at the proposal, but at the assumption that European states tax the rich with higher “progressivity.” Veronique de Rugy, reporting on a new book by Bruce Bartlett, says that view is off base. European states tend to rely on the VAT, which is heavily regressive. Additionally, Europe’s high income tax rates kick in at lower incomes, so that Europeans lower down on the middle class ladder feel the bite of high taxes.
De Rugy concludes that America is a lot like Europe, on the whole, but that America’s “tax framework may be worse. . . . It disproportionately relies on the top earners to raise revenue, it exempts a large class of taxpayers from paying any income taxes, and it conceals spending in the form of tax breaks.”
This is all very interesting. But my take-away is not to emulate Europe, but — instead — the distinctively American policies we’ve let slip away. Our limited government principles don’t require us to endlessly chase new revenue streams.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.