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Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and other senators arrive for weekly policy meetings on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 11, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Arizona senator’s bill would allow taxpayers to send taxes to battle deficit

PHOENIX — A bill introduced by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) on Thursday would allow taxpayers to earmark a portion of their taxes to reduce the federal deficit.

“With the national debt hurtling toward an unprecedented $20 trillion, it’s time taxpayers had real power to reign in Washington’s big spenders,” Flake said when introducing the bill. “At any rate, I hope this commonsense solution makes like the national debt and grows a lot of interest.”

Taxpayers would make the selection to push 10 percent of their taxes toward the deficit on their annual income taxes.

The bill, called the Debt-Buy Down Act, would also force Congress to make cuts to match the amount contributed by taxpayers to ensure the money goes to reducing the deficit.

“In 2014, Americans paid over $1.37 trillion in individual income taxes,” Flake said. “If every one of those individuals contributed 10 percent of their tax liability, Congress would be required to cut $137 billion in spending. While $137 billion does not solve the $20 trillion debt problem, it is certainly a good place to start.”

Should Congress fail to approve cuts, the Debt-Buy Down Act would trigger budget reductions across the board. However, some areas — such as Social Security benefits, benefits for those in uniform and net interest payments — would be spared.

Flake said the $20 trillion debt would be enough money to buy tickets for every seat at Chase Field for the next 22 million Arizona Diamondbacks games or purchase 20 billion tickets to see “Hamilton.”

Flake introduced the same bill seven years ago, when the deficit was nearly $13 trillion.

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