Larry David's Unintentionally Funny Op-Ed Bungles Tax Cut Politics, Economics

December 21st, 2010 6:09 PM

In Tuesday's New York Times, Larry David, of "Seinfeld" fame, tried his hand at political commentary. The attempt was pretty funny, if not in the sense it was intended. David should probably stick to his more traditional brand of comedy.

The column was a sarcastic jab at Congressional Republicans' deal with President Obama to extend current income tax rates. David incorrectly, if predictably, called the maintenance of static tax rates a "tax cut," and it only went downhill from there.

There is a God! It passed! The Bush tax cuts have been extended two years for the upper bracketeers, of which I am a proud member, thank you very much. I’m the last person in the world I’d want to be beside, but I am beside myself! This is a life changer, I tell you. A life changer!

To begin with, I was planning a trip to Cabo with my kids for Christmas vacation. We were going to fly coach, but now with the money I’m saving in taxes, I’m going to splurge and bump myself up to first class. First class! Somebody told me they serve warm nuts up there, and call you “mister.” I might not get off the plane!

I’m also going to call the hotel and get another room so I don’t have to sleep on a cot in the kids’ room. Don’t get me wrong — I love a good cot. The problem is they tend to take up a lot of room, and it’s getting a little tougher in my advancing years to fold it up and drag it to the closet. I mean, I’d do it if I had to, but guess what? I don’t! Not with this windfall coming my way. Now I get to have my own room with a king-sized bed. And who knows, maybe I’ll even get some fancy bottled water from the minibar. This is shaping up to be the best vacation I’ve had in years.

When I get home, thanks to the great compromise, the first thing I’m going to do is get a flat-screen TV. Finally I can throw out the 20-inch Zenith with the rabbit ears, the one I inherited from my parents when they died. The reception is terrible and I’m getting tired of going out to bars every time I want to watch a game. Last month, the antenna broke and I tried to improvise one with a metal hanger and wound up cutting myself. Every time I see that scab, I say to myself, “If, God willing, those Bush tax cuts are restored, I’m going to buy a new TV.” Well, guess what? They have been!

You get the idea.

David basically sounded like a snarky Warren Buffet, demanding (in his own way) that the federal government take more of his money. Which of course begs the question: why wait for higher tax rates? If he's so eager to bankroll Uncle Sam, he's free to do so above and beyond his legal obligations.

The Washington Examiner's Mark Hemingway helpfully provides the address of the U.S. Treasury's gift office, and notes:

Believe it or not, the U.S. Treasury will still take your money if you willingly give it to them. David will feel better about himself, and he can devote his time to writing things that are actually, you know, funny.

That, at least, is something David does well, this column notwithstanding. Economics, on the other hand, is not his forte. In trying to bash the DC tax cut deal, David unwittingly made the Keyensian case for tax cuts, as the Atlantic's Derek Thompson noted:

Larry David is a liberal, and he's trying to make an ironic case against extending the Bush tax cuts (see all this silly stuff I'm wasting money on, etc). But if you take his article seriously, it's actually a great case for extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

See, most economists think it's silly for the government to give up $65 billion next year on lower taxes for the most wealthy, because they think that money won't be spent. But what if every rich person acted like Larry David, and immediately spent the money he expected to save next year on luxury vacations (preferably in-country), expensive home entertainment equipment, and Whole Foods? Well, liberal economists would be much more enthusiastic about keeping money in their hands because the money would immediately juice aggregate demand, lifting jobs and income for everybody.

Stick to comedy, Larry - the kind that's intended to be funny.