Interviewing Obama advisor Davis Axelrod on Fox News Sunday this week, Chris Wallace asked the type of question that prompts the use of the rewind button, just to confirm the silly gotcha query was actually made on public policy television show, and pitched by a 'serious' journalist like Wallace.
The topic the Fox host was pressing Axelrod on was tax fairness and specifically Obama's recent urging of Congress to pass the so-called Buffett Rule, named after famed investor Warren Buffett, which would require people earning over one million each year to pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent.
Wallace wanted to know if Obama was truly committed to the issue [emphasis added]:
[I]f I may, David, the question I have for you is: if the president feels so strongly about tax fairness, is he going to he contribute money to the Treasury and they have a special department just for this, to help with the deficit?
And no, Wallace wasn't kidding. He soon pressed Axelrod again on the topic:
I take it then he's not going to contribute money to the Treasury to help with the deficit.
This, of course, is nonsense. Because the president is advocating for tax reform to help battle the deficit that means he's supposed to pay extra taxes, or donate part of his income to the U.S. Treasury, otherwise he's a hypocrite? That's not how a representative government works. Leaders in a democracy aren't expected to dip into their bank account in order to prove the seriousness of their policy beliefs.
Obama supports affordable college education, does Wallace think the president should pay the tuition of scores of students in order to prove his point? Obama supports investment in infrastructure, does that means he should make large donations to the Department of Transportation to help it build new bridges?
What made Wallace's question even more ridiculous was that he had just claimed that the $47 billion raised from increasing taxes on the very rich over the next ten years, via the Buffett Rule, would be insignificant with regards to erasing the larger federal deficit.
David, according to one estimate -- the money you would get from the Buffett Rule would cover just 17 days of the increased deficit under the Obama budget.
Passing the Buffett Rule wouldn't dent the deficit, Wallace told Axelrod. But Wallace wanted to know if Obama was going to write a check to the U.S. Treasury to help ease the federal government's 13-figure deficit.
Chris Wallace, serious journalist.