Chris Matthews Reveals How His Parents Balanced Their Budget - Without Mentioning Revenues

MSNBC's Chris Matthews Tuesday exposed his own debt ceiling hypocrisy without realizing it.

As he absurdly asked his "Hardball" guests why America isn't having a "big debate" about what the federal government should pay for - like that's not what's happening at the moment! - he relayed how his parents balanced their household budget, but never once said anything about raising revenues. It was all about what they could afford (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Why doesn’t the American people, why don't we have a big debate about what percentage of our economy we want the federal government to spend and are we willing to pay for it? Some sort of big picture discussion. Okay. The aging of our population requires us more spending on healthcare for people over 65. Do we want to meet that commitment or not? Do we want to meet a portion of it? Do we want to help with education at the federal level? Do we want to do real infrastructure spending? Do we want to cut down our overseas military operations? When are we going to make a lot of serious, households make those decisions every day. Republicans like to say the household, the household. The average household decides can we afford to buy new shoes for the kids? Can we afford to go to the movies this week? What kind of vacation can we take? Can we travel, or do we have to stay in the neighborhood? People make these decisions. Why doesn't the federal government decide what it's going to spend money on and then decide it's going to pay for it? […]

Well I grew up with parents who had that conversation every week, and that’s how we lived. And that’s how we got to today. Middle class parents from aspiring cultures make those decisions all the time. Ezra, your thoughts. I don’t know why can't we as a country - you don't get steak, you don’t go to nightclubs, you don’t go on expensive vacations, you give the kids educations.

People make these decisions. Why doesn't the federal government decide what it's going to spend money on and then decide it's going to pay for it?

Meet Chris Matthews, the newest member of the Tea Party.

In reality, this is exactly the "big debate" America has been having for over two years, and people like Matthews have been heaping scorn on those in the center of it.

The family household argument is exactly what members of this movement have been saying all along: if families have to cut expenses to balance their budgets, so should the government.

More telling, Matthews didn't say that when his parents were discussing their finances "every week," somewhere in the conversation was the need for Dad to get another job to "raise revenues."

Quite the contrary, it was about "can we afford to buy new shoes for the kids, " or "go to the movies this week," or "can we travel, or do we have to stay in the neighborhood?"

No "maybe Daddy should work more hours or get another job so that we can afford our current lifestyle."

Despite that being how Matthews was brought up, and how he believes those to be decisions "middle class parents from aspiring cultures" make "all the time," he doesn't think that's how our government should run its own finances.

No, budgets should be balanced by raising taxes on the less than 50 percent of the population currently paying all of them.

Why is that? Why should government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" run its budget differently than the people?

It is, after all, our money. And it's not like we've been stingy up to this point in giving the government some of it.

Consider that since 1950, total annual federal revenues have risen from $39 billion to $2.6 trillion. If they had just grown at the rate of inflation, tax receipts this year would be $451 billion.

That's right: federal revenues have grown at almost six times the rate of inflation the last 61 years. Meanwhile, spending has grown at almost eight times the rate of inflation.

Think we have a revenue problem or a spending problem?

But that's ancient history. Let's narrow our focus a bit.

Inflation-adjusted per capita income has basically remained flat since 1998. If we had just increased revenues at the rate of inflation since then, we'd bring in $2.38 trillion this year.

But we're projected to exceed that by $200 billion.

Meanwhile, our spending since 1998 grew almost 70 percent faster than the rate of inflation.

So, since 1998, as inflation-adjusted per capita income has remained unchanged, tax collections have grown eight percent faster than inflation while spending has risen 70 percent faster.

In just thirteen years.

Think we have a revenue problem or a spending problem?

Using the Matthews family model, shouldn't we cease all this talk about raising revenues and exclusively determine what we can afford while cutting what we can't?

All those in favor say "Aye."

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Noel Sheppard's picture