In a body known for intemperate remarks and fabricated figures, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) put in a worthy nominee for top honors in 2008 recently when he said:
… the unfunded cost of the McCain-Bush tax cuts is more than $100 trillion. So if you weren’t giving away all of this money to the rich people and all of the Republicans who inherited money from their parents and never had a real job in their lives, maybe we could solve it. It would just take a third of the Bush-McCain tax cuts to solve the unfunded liability for the next 75 years for Medicare.
– CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, HOUSE PAGE H7122 July 24, 2008
Oh the many gems compliments of the California gentleman. First, we have the idea of an “unfunded cost” of a tax cut. This may be a residual slip from previous attempts to prevent an AMT-based tax hike by raising taxes, which only makes sense in certain Washington circles. Only an increase in spending can be unfunded. Tax cuts unfund government.
Then there’s the idea that by letting citizens keep more of their own money, government is “giving away all this money,” implying that the money really belongs to the government in the first place. We used to call that communism, but we don’t do that in polite circles anymore. Whether rich or poor, it’s their money first, Congressman.
Perhaps the most pernicious of all is his notion that by raising taxes on the rich we can solve the problem with Medicare for the next 75 years. The good news is that this may be the first recorded instance in which Stark publicly admits that Medicare even has a problem. We have no polling on this, but Stark’s belated admission could make agreement on that point unanimous, finally.
But he really needs to be more careful with his numbers. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Medicare spending is slated to rise from 2.7% of Gross Domestic Product in 2007 to 15.6% of GDP in 2082. To put that in perspective, it is almost twice the total of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending in 2007. No amount of taxation of the rich is going to make up a difference equal to nearly 13% of our economy — unless as many suppose, Stark intends to define the rich as anyone not in poverty, a definition the middle class may not appreciate.