Per-person government costs on the decline

klunney@govexec.com

It took the average American 167 working days this year to support the operations of government at all levels in the United States, according to the annual "Cost of Government Day" report released by Americans for Tax Reform.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, argued, however, that the day still comes too late in the year.

"It's disgraceful that the cost of government eats up every penny Americans earn in the first 167 days of the year. It's just one more indication of how bloated this government is. Fortunately things are getting better," Armey said at a news conference held by Americans for Tax Reform, a group that advocates tax and spending cuts.

Americans for Tax Reform determines the Cost of Government Day by estimating the date, counting from January 1, on which the average American worker has earned enough in gross income to pay off federal, state and local government-imposed costs, including total spending and cost of regulations.

This year Cost of Government Day falls on June 16, 167 days into the year 2000 and down 6 days from last year. There has been a steady decline in the number of days it takes the average American to support government operations across the country for the past nine years. In 1992, Cost of Government Day fell on July 10.

"The bad news is that the average American has to work 167 days to pay for his or her share of the government. The good news is that over the last nine years, the cost of government has steadily decreased," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

Of the 167 days, taxpayers spent 29.3 days paying for Social Security and Medicare costs and 37.9 days picking up the tab for federal regulations. The bulk of time-59.1 days-went toward paying off state and local spending and regulations.

The total cost of federal regulations is estimated to be about $880 billion in 2000, roughly $3,140 per person.

A copy of the study is available on ATR's Web site at www.atr.org.

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