You don't usually expect to find hard-hitting news in one of those Sunday magazine inserts, but Parade had an interesting item on national debt. The US national debt was 53% of the gross domestic product last year. That sounds horrible--owing more than half of what we make annually--but we are still far behind some of our fellow economic powers.
According to the report, Japan's ratio is 192%. That means they would have to commit their entire GDP to debt for two whole years just to get back in the black. France is at 80%, Canada is at 72% and the United Kingdom is at 69%.
I want you to step back from the numbers for a moment and consider what these debt-laden countries have in common. Let's start with nationalized health care. Japan has a single-payer system--with the national government providing universal health insurance--and a federal comittee that sets fees. France too has universal health care--with the government picking up about 75-percent of the total cost of all spending. I think we've heard ad nauseum how perfect the Canadian system is--picking up 70% of total cost. The UK has the National Health Service which covers everyone and pays just about everything.
Another similarity: high speed trains. Japan, France and Britain all have federally-subsidized high speed rail lines. Japan's system loses 20-billion dollars a year. Britain subsidizes a now-private system with about 8-billion bucks annually--while French taxpayers pick up about 10-billion dollars worth of rail line debt every year. These numbers do not include the billions that were spent in development and construction of the original high-speed rail lines. To their credit, Canadians have not wasted money on any high speed rail systems.
And finally, our major debt partners all have much higher tax rates than we do. Japan requires all people to pay income tax--regardless of income--ranging from five to forty percent. That does not include local income taxes, the 25% withholding for their version of Social Security and a 20% tax on interest and capital gains income. Their corporations also pay 30% tax on all profits as well. The French pay up to 50-percent of their income in taxes--before you factor in the 45% payroll tax (which reduces income) and sales tax rates that can rise to 19% for some purchases. Canada's rates are similar to ours--up to 29-percent--but they also have the General Sales Tax of five percent--on top of provincial sales taxes up to ten percent. And the UK taxes up to 40-percent on income and it has a 24% national health care payroll tax--not to mention a 15% sales tax.
So now ask yourself: is that where I want the US to be in a generation? Taxing the hell out of its people--and not coming close to making ends meet? Here's one more number for you: The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the US national debt would equal 100-percent of GDP by the year 2020--and that was before Obamacare was approved.