The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

increasing taxes, as a practical matter, is necessary for the financial well being of the USA

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/29/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 982 times Debate No: 35166
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)




increasing taxes, as a practical matter, is necessary for the financial well being of the USA,,, aside from utilizing government health care to save money.

where are the cuts going to come from to balance the budget, if there are no tax increases?

background, we have a seventeen trillion dollar debt, and a deficit that fluctuates up to a trillion a year. everyone worth their salt as an expert says we need to do something about the deficit.

about ten percent of the budget is spent on the poor, so even if you cut that in half, it wouldn't make much of a difference.

even if you privatized social security, we'd still have current expenditures to maintain our promise to current retirees, which almost everyone agrees should be done. and most people dont want it privatized anywaays.

perhaps gutting medicare and medicaid would us from having to increase taxes, but is that really what we want, and really necessary? health care is a basic necesssity, a basic right, if you aren't just lazy, no?
plus we should be going in the direction of government health care, or tightly regulated private insurance. all other countries spend around ten percent GDP on healthcare, whereas we spend around 17 percent. that's a savings of a trillion dollars in itself. in fact, if we dont want to increase taxes, or gut government health care, the only other way to save the country's finances is via government health care.

where else would we cut anything of signfiicance? sure there's plenty of waste and fraud and abuse out there, but as far as i can see, the only structurally significant reform is government health care or increasing taxes.

to put it in perspective, roughly, we got 500 billion on defense, 500 billion on interest and debt payments, 500 billion in social security, 500 billion on general government expenses, and 500 billion going on a trillion in health care.

most "poor' people and general government expenditures, which are often a rallying cry of conservatives, is not much in way of significance.

historically, we had much higher tax rates, and other counties do too, and they all show how a country can do just fine that way.
i grant that im not sure how superfluous government pensions and perks are factored into the whole budget, there's surely places of mention in these areas.

as per "growing" ourselves out of the problem, historically the government's revenue is only 18% of GDP, which is back to its historical average. i dont see how one could expect to do much better.

so aside from government health care, i dont see how else we can balance the budget other than by increasing taxes.


I will accept the side of Con. We should cut government expenditures to balance the federal budget.

I look forward to reading your arguments!
Debate Round No. 1


those were my arguments. i had wished you would have started your arguments from the get go, but please, go ahead and respond to my arguments, and then expand on your own.



Thanks Pro for your arguments! Surely this kind of discussion is important at a time when the federal government is running a significant budget deficit and putting debt on the shoulders of my generation and the economy.

For Fiscal Year 2014, federal government expenditures will be roughly $3.602 trillion. [1]

The resolution basically states that "increasing taxes is necessary for the federal government's fiscal health."

The Congressional Budget Office states that in 2014 we will have a $560 billion deficit. [1] Let us use this figure.


C1: Cost to the Economy

Pro basically says we need to hike taxes so that we can reduce the deficit. Empirical evidence indicates that "the tax multiplier is roughly 3 in the year or two following a tax shock", and additionally, "these results corroborate [other studies]". [2] So over time, collecting a dollar in tax revenue sharply contracts the economy by roughly a factor of three.

The "total burden of collecting $1 in additional income taxes is between $1.30 and $1.50, not counting compliance costs." [3] Taking the midpoint of these projections and factoring in compliance costs yields us a reasonable estimate of $1.50 for each dollar of revenue for the total burden of raising tax revenue through federal income taxes. And this is the immediate impact, not the devastation over time.

America's economy has been suffering for awhile now. Under President Obama, median household incomes are down by over $4,000. [4]

A tax hike on the rich (which we already imposed) will only raise around $50 billion per year. [5] The deficit is still $560 billion.

Labor income is about the equivalent of 60% of GDP (the remainder is capital income, interest, etc). [6] To eliminate the budget deficit, income taxes on the median income earner would need to be raised by almost 8.5 percentage points.

- GDP at $16.646 trillion [1]

- Labor Income at 60% of GDP [6]

- Deficit + Negative Incentives at $840 billion

(.840/ 9.9876 = 0.084)

The average taxpayer pays an income tax rate of 10.1%. [7] After crunching the numbers (shown above), for the median taxpayer income taxes will need to be raised by about 8.4 percentage points.

So for the middle class household earning about $50,700 [8]... their tax burden would go up by about $4,260. Can taxpayers really afford such a burden, especially at this time?

And once the economy sharply recedes further from such a hot and horrid imposition, the deficit will remain.

Raising income taxes, and any taxes in general, will reduce an individual's disposable income. With less income, future consumption patterns are shifted. There will be less investment and business activity as a result, and less savings. As a result, the economy will grow weaker, incomes will fall, and jobs will be shed.

C2: Civil Liberties

A laissez faire economy, with the free exchange of goods and services, is based on the voluntary decisions of the individual.

Taxes reduce an individual's disposable income. They have less economic freedom as a result. Their decisions about how much to spend, invest, and save; their decisions regarding how much they work; these choices are all distorted.

Tax hikes like Pro suggests would reduce America's economic freedom, and to the extent the ability of an individual to choose -- to that extent human dignity and conscious is eroded.

Economic freedom is strongly correlated with higher average incomes, better health outcomes, and greater political freedom. [14] Prosperity thus emerges when people can keep most of the fruits of their labor and exchange them for their own wants how they see fit.

The private sector is the source of America's economic power, and we must go back to this ideal.

C3: Balance the Budget: Making Government Simpler and Smarter

There are plenty of spending adjustments we can make! Let us remember that in fiscal year 2014 the projected budget deficit will be $560 billion.

Budget Adjustments:

1. End the Drug War ($15.6 billion) [9]

2. Social Security Reform

- Eliminate Fraud in the Social Security Disability Program ($36.25 billion) [1] [10]

- Modernizing Social Security [Raising Retirement Age, Progressive Indexing] ($170 billion) [20]

3. Medicare Reform

- Medicare Choice ($88 billion) [1] [11]

- Cap Medicare Growth ($58.611 billion) [18]

- Cut Payment Error Rate by 75% ($42.9 billion) [15]

- Raise Retirement Age by 2 years ($12.5 billion) [26]

4. National Defense Improvements [17]

- Reducing/Canceling unnecessary or unwanted systems ($38.58 billion)

- Reforming Out-of-Control healthcare/ retirement costs ($61.86 billion)

- Correcting Deficient/ Unnecessary processes and operations ($87.85 billion)

- Ending the Overseas Wars ($79.4 billion) [19]

- Ending Foreign Military Assistance ($14 billion) [28]

5. Eliminate LIHEAP ($3.02 billion) [12]

6. Limit TANF Benefits to 6 months ($14.53 billion) [12] [13]

7. Lawsuit Abuse Reform ($10 billion) [15]

9. Eliminate the Department of Energy ($28.789 billion) [16] [11]

Re-Establish the Atomic Energy Commission

10. Eliminate the Department of Commerce ($5.868 billion) [11][16]

Transfer the Bureau of the Census, International Trade Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to other appropriate agencies

11. Eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development ($49.479 billion) [16]

12. Eliminate the Department of Labor ($74.3958 billion) [21] [22] [16]

Maintaining the Bureau of Labor Statistics and OSHA

13. Privatize Air Traffic Control ($10.316) [23]

14. Eliminate Department of Agriculture ($95.4836 billion) [16]

- Block Grant Food Stamps at FY2008 Levels [24]

- Block Grant Child Nutrition FY2011 Levels [25]

15. Privatize the Corps of Engineers ($10.6 billion) [15]

16. End State and Local Justice Grants ($5 billion) [15]

17. End Head Start ($8.1 billion) [27]

18. Repeal Davis-Bacon Labor Laws ($9 billion) [15]

19. Eliminate the Department of Education ($3.028 billion)

- Block Grant Education Funds at FY2008 Levels [16]

20. Eliminate the Department of Transportation ($28.8865 billion) [16] [29]

- Block Grant Highway Infrastructure Funds (Increase by 25%)

Total Cuts: $1.0620469 trillion ($502 billion surplus)


As I demonstrated above, there are plenty of spending cuts that we could make to balance the budget. These cuts are mostly noncontroversial to be bluntly honest. Liberals should embrace the idea that the states can control their own education systems, and the drug war as well as the foreign wars could be finished.

Optimally we should cut government spending further and replace federal taxation with indirect consumption taxes, but that is beyond the scope of this debate.

Tax hikes will reduce the economy's size and health even further. A $4000 tax hike will destroy many livelihoods, and is just bad economics. Instead, we should look to find efficiencies in government and cut Washington's wasteful spending.




[3] Economic Report of the President (2005), p.77



[6] The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2013 to 2023 (Congressional Budget Office), PDF.





[11] "A Clear Vision to Revitalize America" Rand Paul, FY2014, pg.98. PDF.



















Debate Round No. 2


you definitely do well in stressing that tax cuts can make a signifiant improvement on the deficit. which i never contested, id rather have a balanced approach in cuts and increases.
but the cuts do not seem politically feasible, and i question the math.

feasibiity. i could go through and just criticizse most of them in this regard. fraud isnt always easy to just crack down on, it's never so obvious. eliminating department of commerce, or department of energy etc definitely isnt, they do a lot of good, not to get into whether they are worth it. just politially it aint gonna happen. you said your cuts weren't really that contestable, but they are actually hugely contestable.

math. adding up the specific numbers you showed didnt total what i see. id have to trust your reference or assume the vague references that dont specify numbers made up for it. this is too much to assume, and just looking at the overall budget id have to question you could make it happen the way you say

i will go along though that cuts can contribute significantly to a balanced budget. im even a lot more libertarian in this regard than most people, i just dont see it as happening all with cuts.



"You definitely do well in stressing that spending cuts can make a signifiant improvement on the deficit."

Thanks Pro.

R1: Feasibility

To win this debate, one of us has to better prove how to improve the fiscal health of the U.S. Government. Pro has to argue for tax hikes.

The budget cuts I promoted in R2 are a legitimate alternative to improve the U.S. Government's fiscal situation.

My budget solution somewhat resembles Senator Rand Paul's FY2014 Budget: "A Clear Vision to Revitalize America". [1] This budget was defeated in the Senate 18-81.

However, President Obama's budget was defeated and gained zero votes. [2] So the ideas I suggest basically got 18 more Senate votes than the President's plan.

And seriously, what is more viable: raising middle class taxes somewhere between $1,000 and $4,000 (maximum), or spending reductions?

Let's say that we decided, to close the deficit: we would raise taxes $1 for every $3 in spending cuts. This is even more conservative than President Obama's plan.

This would still be a $1,000 hike for middle class families.

In the 1984 election, the Democratic candidate Mondale also proposed raising taxes for middle class taxpayers. He lost by 49 states. [3]

A total of 73% of Americans believe that the deficit is caused by overspending. [4]

So I proposed reasonable budget reductions.

Credit cards in the private sector have a fraud rate of 0.05%. [5] The Medicare voucher scheme that I proposed would basically give each senior a voucher, that would allow them the freedom to choose which health insurance plan they could have.

They would have the same health care as their Congressmen. In a consumer driven health care system, the incentives to crack down on fraud exist, and the people would be responsible for their own money, leading to reductions in waste and fraud. [6]

The intention behind a policy doesn't really matter. It is the policy in action what matters. Sure the "Department of Education" and "Department of Energy" sound nice, but do they really have an impact?

Apparently not.

The Department of Commerce, Energy, etc. are usually just involved with subsidies and corporate welfare.

Most industries in America are responsible for their own research and development. The profit motive is the driver behind these actions. Productivity gains increase output and thus profits. Energy and agriculture can provide their own R&D in a competitive free market economy, especially where government taxes and regulates less.

R2: Budget Numbers

Most of the figures I provide come from credible sources.

The majority of the budget numbers I provide are from the White House Budget, Rand Paul's Budget, the Congressional Budget Office, the programs in mention, or think tanks.

In other words, empirical evidence.


I presented an alternative path for Washington to take: spending reductions. Most of them already proposed and put into legislation, in different forms.

Spending reductions are key for the federal government to achieve fiscal health.

Tax hikes, especially to the tone of $4,200+ per middle class family (almost a doubling in income taxes as proved in R2) is totally unrealistic. It would be political suicide.

Today it is July 4th, a special day in America's history. It is Independence Day. The taxes imposed by the British angered the colonists and were a driver behind their actions. To impose steep taxes would just seem ironic.

So increasing middle class taxes by over $4,000 is not necessary for the financial well being of the USA. On the contrary, we should enact resposible and significant spending cuts to improve the U.S. federal budget's health and financial well being.


[1] (






Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Contra 5 years ago
Spending cuts would restore the fiscal health of the U.S. government and help us avert an oncoming debt crisis. With federal spending as a share of GDP projected to steeply rise in the coming decades we need to do something to curtail the tide of red ink.

That is why @Defool why I argued for spending cuts. They are an alternative to tax hikes, in order to balance the budget.

And Pro, again most of the sources were the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Congressional Budget Office, Rand Paul's budget, several think tanks, or the Departments themselves. I see nothing wrong with these figures and their sources.

But thanks for having this debate, it was fun.
Posted by dairygirl4u2c 5 years ago
"And seriously, what is more viable: raising middle class taxes somewhere between $1,000 and $4,000 (maximum), or spending reductions?

that's a good point actually. at least political viability.
i suppose it's me personally that wants a balanced approach, but if it came down to middle class tax increases or spending cuts, i'm sure most would go for cuts.

con still didn't though, show the numbers with more specificity. they didnt add up how he totaled them without assuming the vague references are true or that the sources he used were true... but looking at the overall budget, i dont see how that's possible. this contested issue is mostly resolved with someone taing the time to see if it's true or not, or look into how they got the numbers etc, or if the sources are credible. neither of us really did it so it's not like either of us have much room to talk.

so even if it's true that increases would be less politically viable, it dont mean that they aren't necessary.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by DeFool 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: I did not award sourcing scores because the sources used were either missing (Pro), or partisan (Con's use of CATO and the Tax Foundation as sources.) S&G errors often made Pro's argument difficult to follow. I explain arguments in the comments, but briefly, Although Pro was required to demonstrate why tax increases were reasonably required, Con was also required to demonstrate why this was not the case. Con did not do this, but instead devolved into rambling off-topic discussions about "Obama" and whether or not the Dept. of Education has an impact that justifies the money it requires to operate. None of this was relevant. The question that needed to be resolved was, "are tax increases required, as a practical matter, for the fiscal well-being of the US" Pro's call for increased revenues was reasonable, while the polemic arguments against taxes of any sort by Con represented what I perceived as irrational zealotry.
Vote Placed by 1Historygenius 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Con slaughtered Pro. His arguments on tax cuts and his figures for balancing the budget were very strong and Pro could not refute them. In addition, Con had far more sources.