In the wake of the November 6 elections, voters have approved a number of contentious state initiatives, including a $6-billion-a-year bundle of tax increases sponsored by California Governor Jerry Brown. Proposition 30, a focal point of Brown’s administration, would increase the sales tax by 0.25 cent for the next four years, while raising income taxes on those earning more than $250,000 for the next seven years.

On January 1, 2013, many new taxes are set to begin. Unless Congress and the White House can agree by year's end on an extension of tax cuts that have been in place for most of the past decade, workers will see an increase in the taxes taken out of their paychecks next year and a loss in the amount they claim for deductions when it comes time to pay their 2013 taxes.

According to an October 16 memorandum prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) for the Senate Budget Committee, the federal government spent $746 billion on means-tested welfare programs in 2011. As the U.S. Census Bureau notes, there were 16.8 million households living below the poverty level in America in 2011. In other words, if the federal government were to give this money directly to the impoverished households, all 16.8 million households would have received over $44,000. This is double the 2011 federal poverty rate of $22,350 for a family of four, and nearly double the 2012 poverty rate of $23,050 for a family of four.

As the deadline to extend the Bush-era tax cuts looms, economists have agreed that the pending tax hikes would be devastating to the economy, and that permitting their expiration would have about twice the impact on economic growth as government spending cuts under the sequester.

Former U.S. Comptroller General of the United States David Walker just finished another tour across the country promoting “fiscal reform and responsibility,” according to Forrest Jones, writer for MoneyNews.com. And what he learned is that most people are frightened at the immensity of the fiscal and financial challenges facing the country, but almost no one has any confidence that things can be fixed.

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