Real federal taxes per capita have more than doubled since John F. Kennedy served as president — and argued for lower taxes.
In 1961, the fiscal year Kennedy was elected, the federal government collected about $94.388 billion in taxes, according to the Office of Management and Budget. The population that year was about 183,691,481, according to the Census Bureau. That meant federal tax revenues equaled about $514 per capita — or $4,121 in 2016 dollars.
By 1965, the fiscal year Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Goldwater, the federal government collected about $116.817 billion in taxes from a population of about 194,302,963. That year federal taxes equaled about $601 per capita — or $4,578 in 2016 dollars.
In fiscal 2016, according to OMB, the federal government collected about $3.268 trillion in taxes. That equaled about $10,114 for each of the 323,127,513 people in the country.
Per capita federal taxation in fiscal 2016 was 121 percent more than it was in 1965 and 145 percent more than it was in 1961.
In 1961, when Kennedy took office, federal taxes consumed 17.2 percent of gross domestic product, according to OMB. By 1965, they were down to 16.4 percent.
In 2012, then President Barack Obama was seeking re-election, and federal taxes consumed 15.3 percent of GDP. But by 2016, they had climbed to 17.8 percent. This year, according to OMB, they will hit 18.1 percent.
Is that a good deal for America?
Fifty-five years ago, when taxes were less than half what they are now per capita and consumed a smaller share of the economy, President Kennedy, a Democrat, believed Americans deserved a better deal.
In 1961, the economy grew at 2.6 percent — the same as it did in 2016. But Kennedy did not think that was good enough. He wanted more growth. He believed lower taxes was the path to it.
“The final and best means of strengthening demand among consumers and business is to reduce the burden on private income and the deterrents to private initiative which are imposed by our present tax system,” Kennedy said in a Dec. 14, 1962 speech to the Economic Club of New York. full story