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Member Questions of the Week of March 29, 2010

Lloyd Van Horn from Belville, TX asks, What percentage of the U.S. population pays no income tax? Has this percentage increased in recent years? OUR ANSWER: According to a recent report by the Tax Foundation, over 36% of tax filers had no tax liability in 2008. But that’s not the end of the story. According to IRS data, the bottom 50% of all taxpayers pay less than 3% of all taxes. In fact, the bottom 40% actually have a negative tax rate because of refundable credits that send them more money in income though the tax code than they owe in income taxes. We are fast approaching a dangerous tipping point where more than 50% of taxpayers will pay no income taxes and will be able to vote themselves more and more government benefits paid for entirely by a shrinking minority of taxpayers. This will lead to a never ending expansion of government since politicians will have no incentive to ever stop spending if┬áthe majority of voters want bigger government.

Thomas Duffy from Wayland, MA asks, What is the best book on the life of George Washington? OUR ANSWER: We recommend James Thomas Flexners The Indispensable Man, a valuable historical and biographical study of Washingtons life. The Heritage Foundations Matthew Spalding has also co-authored a book with Patrick Garrity about the ideas and political impact of Washington. The book is titled A Sacred Union of Citizens: George Washington’s Farewell Address and the American Character.

Daniel Richards from American Fork, UT asks, What does the U.S. annually spend on foreign aid, and who do we give it to? OUR ANSWER: The United States plans to spend almost $35 billion on foreign aid this year. Historically, the U.S. has been the most generous nation on the planet respective of how much it provides in official foreign aid, in addition to the immense generosity of Americans who give billions of dollars annually to help other countries through faith-based and other private humanitarian organizations. This year Afghanistan is set to be the number one recipient of U.S. aid with over $2.7 billion in funding. Israel falls to number two and will receive less funding than it has in years past. Rounding out the top ten are Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia and Colombia. To read more about Heritage foreign aid policies, and how we should reform the manner in which we provide foreign assistance, go here.

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