Ok, American taxpayer. You are the paying spouse. The government is the dependent spouse. How do we get past this impasse?
Comparing this to a divorce may seem overly simplistic, but often the simple answers are the best ones. When a couple is going through a divorce and a determination of spousal support needs to be made, two things are looked at: need and ability to pay. If there is no need, perhaps the amount is lower. If there is significant need, but there is limited ability to pay, things have to be sacrificed.
The one advantage the government has over a couple going through divorce, is that they can raise taxes on their paying spouse (you).
Let’s ignore that for now. I have been in numerous mediations, divorce conferences and individual meetings helping people go line by line through their budgets. Often there is a shortfall of combined marital money to meet both spouses’ needs, regardless of how much is paid or not paid. This requires some painful cuts to the budgets sometimes (I’ve seen it where couples have literally had to give away pets that they could no longer afford to keep).
Now, let’s take a look at people not going through divorce. Let’s assume they have debt and a deficit. What do they do to climb out? They have a couple of choices. One – do nothing (I once had a teacher who said, “you don’t have to do anything but die”). Two – Get a second job or third job. Third – Cut expenses.
The first one is not an option for the most part. The second one can create stress and LEAD to divorce. But the third one…. hmmmmmm. We could do that. Some things are in fact necessities. Some things are not.
So, back to the divorcing couple. The dependent spouse is willing to do a compromise of spousal support and cut some of their budget. The paying spouse (you) will not have any money left to pay your bills if you pay the level of spousal support desired and will thus have to be more productive (read: work harder).
In this case, what happens? Well, both spouses have to cut their budgets to a level where the income can work for both. Kids go to private school? Not anymore. Vacations in the Alps. Done. Maxing out retirement. Forget about it.
In order to actually cut the national debt and not run a deficit, the government needs to make some painful cuts to their budget. The taxpayer already pays spousal support. Asking for more only increases the taxpayer’s need.
Funny thing. A happily married couple would find a way to make it work (cutting budgets, finding additional sources of revenue, etc.). I guess we’ll never be happy with our government.