Last November, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell proudly declared himself a socialist on national television.
On Wednesday, "The Last Word" host took this a huge step further saying the whole idea that Americans are rugged individualists is an illusion because they're all really socialists (video follows with transcript and commentary):
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: From our first days as a nation, we have put our faith in free markets and free enterprise as the engine of America's wealth and prosperity. More than citizens of any other country, we are rugged individualists, a self-reliant people, with a healthy skepticism of too much government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: This is an illusion, of course. We are not the rugged individualists we think we are. After getting an education paid for by the government, if we live long enough, we all get retirement income from the government and health care paid for by the government. That is a very healthy dose of good old-fashioned socialism, but we remain the country that pretends to hate socialism. Homeowners and the entire real estate industry float on a massive government subsidy written into the tax code called the mortgage deduction. The federal government gives millionaires and billionaires tens of thousands of dollars a year to pay, $50,000, to pay for their housing, a subsidy that none of them need, and yet our rugged individualist self-image continues.
Honestly, this has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.
First off, for the roughly 50 percent of the nation that pays taxes, nothing that we "receive" from the federal or state government is given to us. My parents paid federal, state, local, and property taxes that went for my public education, much as I've done for my children.
As for the Social Security and Medicare benefits I may some day receive, I will have at that point paid into the system since I was 18-years-old, and, depending upon when I retire and eventually pass away, could very possibly have paid in more than I received not including a simple rate of growth applied to my contributions.
For the percentage of our population that are much like myself in this regard, whatever they have and/or will receive from federal and state governments is a payback of what's been deducted from their income without their permission or - in some cases - approval.
As for mortgage interest deductability being a subsidy, one really has to wonder what Lawrence learned at Harvard because tax deductions aren't subsidies. Even the liberal Wikipedia knows that:
A subsidy (also known as a subvention) is a form of financial assistance paid to a business or economic sector. Most subsidies are made by the government to producers or distributors in an industry to prevent the decline of that industry (e.g., as a result of continuous unprofitable operations) or an increase in the prices of its products or simply to encourage it to hire more labor (as in the case of a wage subsidy). Examples are subsidies to encourage the sale of exports; subsidies on some foods to keep down the cost of living, especially in urban areas; and subsidies to encourage the expansion of farm production and achieve self-reliance in food production.
A tax deduction is not a form of financial assistance paid to you by the government. Instead, it is a means by which you get to pay less taxes and therefore keep more of -- are you listening, Lawrence? - your money.
But this is a common mistake by liberals that are really socialists, for they don't understand that the government doesn't actually have any money except for what it takes from the citizenry, borrows or prints.
What it taxes is ours, and any current or future statutes in the IRS code that allow us to keep more is neither a subsidy nor a gift.
As it pertains to mortgage interest, if the Left wants to see this tepid recovery fall on its face quickly, they should eliminate this deductability and watch housing prices and the home construction industry collapse even further sending us right back into a recession.
Maybe that's what a socialist like O'Donnell wants. Then there will be more folks trading in their rugged individualism for handouts from those that still believe in such a thing.
Never let a good crisis go to waste, right?