Along with other advocates of limited government, I have criticized the convention of referring to targeted tax breaks as “tax expenditures” or “tax subsidies.” Yes, targeted tax breaks share many characteristics with government spending. But they are not government spending. And if we concede that premise, then someday, some smarmy politician will try to increase taxes while telling us it’s a spending cut.
That someday has come. And in the below video, Jon Stewart is all over it. (Skip ahead to about 5:00.) Stewart’s comments are worth transcribing:
What? ”Spending reductions in the tax code”? The tax code isn’t where we spend, it’s where we collect. And tha–ohhhhh. I guess what you said is tax code – code for raising taxes. You managed to talk about a tax hike as a spending reduction. [Laughter.] Can we afford that and the royalty checks you’re going to have to send to George Orwell? That is the weirdest way – just say tax hike.
There ain’t no such thing as a tax expenditure. There ain’t no such thing as a tax subsidy.