Religion & Liberty Online

Why Soaking the Rich Won’t Fix the Deficit

In a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll on methods to avoid the “fiscal cliff”, sixty percent of Americans support raising taxes on incomes more than $250,000 a year (73 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of independents, and 39 percent of Republicans).

But how much will that affect the deficit?

The federal budget deficit in 2012 was $1.1 trillion. But a number with that many zeros—$1,100,000,000,000—is difficult to grasp, so let’s put it in some perspective

This is what $100 million (0.0001 trillion) looks like.

It takes 10 of those stacks to make $1 billion dollars and 10,000 to make a trillion. This picture represents $1 trillion. Each year since President Obama took office, the deficit has exceeded this amount—and is expected to continue exceeding a trillion dollars a year indefinitely.

Notice the section outlined in red? That’s $80 billion—the projected annual amount from raising taxes on the “rich” (i.e., Americans making more than $250,000).

That’s certainly a huge chunk of money (enough to cover the annual budget of the Department of Health and Human Services). But notice how many other stacks remain.

After we’ve “soaked the rich” how do we cover the remainder of the deficit? Who should get soaked next?

(Image source:

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).