Former Vice-President Al Gore gave a speech last night at Georgetown University. In it, he made a statement that I think is very revealing:
Truly, President Bush has stolen the symbolism and body language of religion and used it to disguise the most radical effort in American history to take what rightfully belongs to the American people and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged.
Hindrocket from Powerline says he can't figure out what in the world Gore is talking about; I think he's talking about the tax cuts. I wish I could find the whole speech somewhere so I could see this quote in its full context. But from the bits and pieces that I can find on the web, this is the only sensible way I can find to interpret his remarks.
Now, if Gore is talking about the tax cuts when he says that Bush has tried to "take what rightfully belongs to the American people and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged," then what does he mean by 'the American people'? How is a tax cut TAKING what belongs to the American people? Isn't it GIVING BACK to the American people? That doesn't fit. But from the meager context available to us, it sure seems like he is talking about the tax cuts.
So we have to parse the statement more closely. Perhaps the communication breakdown is caused by Gore defining terms differently than I do. So, let's try this: Who exactly is getting their money taken away? And who is getting money given to them? Hmm... How about this:
the American people = the government
the already wealthy and privileged = taxpayers
Now the quote makes perfect sense! From this point of view, when I get less money because of taxes it's not because the IRS takes my money and gives it to pathologically counterproductive bureaucraticies. No, because it's not my money. That money belongs to the American people, and they should keep it. As a DNC fundraiser once told Lileks: “Well, why is it your money? I think it should be their money.”
Well, Mr. Gore, as a certain Texan is fond of saying, "We have a fundamental difference of opinion."