In recent years, the Baltic States have been showcased as an austerity success story. While the whole world has seen countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal struggling to reduce their public spending, Lithuania has been hailed as an austerity example. Lithuanian success in public spending cuts has been widely acknowledged; yet simultaneous tax increases and their harmful effects have received less attention. Since the end of 2011, however, the country once again found itself embroiled in a budget crisis and is now moving down the dangerous road of tax hikes.
Yesterday, the US President Obama announced a new debt plan built on taxes on rich. He called for $1.5 trillion in new taxes on upper income taxpayers. His plan would end Bush-era tax cuts for top earners and would limit their deductions. This proposal is following the public debate on the issue of high-income taxes, launched by the investor Warren Buffet few weeks ago. In the following paper, Toni Mascaró reminds us why this approach to taxes and deficits is wrong.
The game of representative democracy is such that we constantly have to choose, not between policies, but between programs that are best seen as baskets of policies to be implemented if the candidate supporting that program is elected. The basket that the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, “sold” to his electors in 2007 was, as always, made of all kinds of policies. But there was one on which he particularly insisted on during the elections and that, in my opinion, brought him the support from many voters: the promise that, if he was elected, individuals who will work more will earn more. “Travailler plus pour gagner plus”– with those words, he was promoting a move away from a society in which the extra money you make is redistributed away from you. At least that’s the way many people understood it.