Megan McArdle does not approve of California’s revenue-raising tactic.

No, the government didn’t actually increase taxes; it just raised the withholding. They’ll give any extra funds back to taxpayers in April, and presumably fewer people will have to write checks to the government on April 15th.

This is a terrible idea on many levels. First of all, the government should not be taking forcible loans from its citizens…

Governments in desperation do desperate things. When I bring up the risk of a sovereign debt crisis, people reply, “Government would never do X. X would be political suicide,” where X is anything other than borrow more money in the market.

At some point, borrowing in the market becomes prohibitively costly. California’s extra tax witholding is just a preview. My guess is that some time in the next decade, “unthinkable” steps will be taken to keep the U.S. government in business. Extra tax witholding will seem fair and painless by comparison.