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Repeal the 16th Amendment? How Will You Carry That Out?

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa has a grand idea, and by “grand” I mean big. Rep. King, never one to think small, has introduced House Joint Resolution 16, a proposed constitutional amendment that reads simply:

The sixteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Read the 16th Amendment to the Constitution and you’ll see it’s all about establishing the government’s power to collect income tax:

16th Amendment. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Are you in favor of repealing the 16th Amendment? Really in favor of it? Then I’ve got a challenge for you. Take a look at the following budget figures, taken directly from the White House historical budget records. Table 2.1 has to do with government receipts, and Tables 8.5 and 8.7 have to do with mandatory and discretionary outlays.

With the 16th amendment outright repealed, as Rep. King proposes, corporate and individual income taxes are gone — that’s approximately $1.6 trillion subtracted from government receipts. Your challenge, if you support Rep. King, is to specifically identify a package of $1.6 trillion in new revenue sources and budget cuts, given the information below. Can you do it? Can your solution add up?

Table 2.1—RECEIPTS BY SOURCE: 1934–2018

(in millions of dollars)

Fiscal Year

Individual Income Taxes

Corporate Income Taxes 1

Social Insurance and Retirement Receipts 2

Excise Taxes 2

Other 3

Total Receipts

Total

(On-Budget)

(Off-Budget)

Total

(On-Budget)

(Off-Budget)

2013 estimate

1,234,012

287,716

951,093

277,606

673,487

85,346

153,878

2,712,045

2,038,558

673,487

 

 

Table 8.5—OUTLAYS FOR MANDATORY AND RELATED PROGRAMS: 1962–2018 (millions of $)

Category and Program

2013 estimate

Mandatory Programs:  
Human resource programs:  
Education, training, employment, and social services

-11,534

Health:  
Medicaid

266,565

Refundable Premium Assistance Tax Credit

……….

Payments to Reduce Cost Sharing in Qualified Health Plans

……….

Childrens Health Insurance

9,897

Other

35,496

Total health

311,958

Medicare

503,751

Income security:  
General retirement and disability

7,660

Federal employee retirement and disability

133,358

Unemployment compensation

78,578

Food and nutrition assistance

104,526

Supplemental Security Income

50,400

Family and Other Support Assistance

24,626

Earned Income Tax Credit

55,123

Child Tax Credit

23,061

Making Work Pay Tax Credit

30

Payments to States for foster care/adoption assistance

6,744

Housing Assistance and Other (including offsetting receipts)

12,810

Total income security

496,916

Social Security

812,572

Veterans benefits and services:  
Income security for veterans

67,388

Other

13,474

Total veterans benefits and services

80,862

Total mandatory human resource programs

2,194,525

Other mandatory programs:  
National defense

8,560

International affairs

-1,379

Energy

5,247

Agriculture

20,292

Deposit insurance

18,564

Universal service fund

10,288

Other commerce and housing credit

554

Community and regional development

10,711

General government

10,981

Medicare SGR Offset Allowance

……….

Spectrum auctions and major asset sales

-2,639

Other undistributed offsetting receipts

-92,487

All other

19,635

Total other mandatory programs

8,327

Total mandatory programs

2,202,852

Net interest:  
Interest on Treasury debt securities (gross)

420,611

Interest received by On-budget trust funds

-50,985

Interest received by Off-budget trust funds

-105,578

Other

-41,298

Total net interest

222,750

Total outlays for mandatory and related programs

 

 

2,425,602

Table 8.7—OUTLAYS FOR DISCRETIONARY PROGRAMS: 1962–2018 (in millions of dollars)

Category and Program

2013 estimate

National defense:  
DoD-Military (051)

626,726

Other Defense

24,751

Total national defense 1

651,477

Nondefense:  
International affairs

58,308

General science, space and technology:  
General science and basic research

13,257

Space and other technology

17,312

Total general science, space and technology

30,569

Energy

9,854

Natural resources and environment

34,704

Agriculture

6,757

Commerce and housing credit

-11,676

Transportation:  
Ground transportation

60,444

Air transportation

21,716

Water and other transportation

8,558

Total transportation

90,718

Community and regional development

27,287

Education, training, employment and social services:  
Education

74,476

Training, employment and social services

21,613

Total education, training, employment and social services

96,089

Health

59,706

Medicare

6,793

Income security:  
Housing assistance

44,149

Other

22,929

Total income security

67,078

Social security

5,830

Veterans benefits and services

58,706

Administration of justice

47,834

General government

19,488

Allowances 1

-1,552

Total nondefense 1

606,493

Total outlays for discretionary programs

1,257,970

I look forward to seeing that magic solution.

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