It would be nice if a member of Congress who sits on the House Financial Services Committee understood what "tax cuts" actually are.

According to North Carolina Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger, whether or not the government giving you money counts as “socialism” depends upon how much money you already have.

Massive tax breaks for wealthy people and corporations are all about “jobs” and investing in the economy, despite the fact that corporations have made it blatantly clear they intend to do no such thing.

But handing that money directly to middle-class and low-income Americans, so that they can get by from day to day and put that money right back into the economy? That’s not a tax cut — that’s socialism.

And to add to his bizarre economic ideas, Pittenger also apparently thinks a large majority of working Americans own stock in corporations, which would certainly be news to the roughly half of the country that doesn’t.

MSNBC’s Katy Tur tried valiantly to show Pittenger the pitfalls in his thinking, but toeing the Republican Party line on their tax scam has become something of a religion for the GOP, and no amount of actual facts will seemingly work to dissuade them.

“You just said that the American people own corporations,” Tur noted.

“The American people are shareholders — they own stock!” Pittenger replied.

“All of them?”

“Ma’am, I’m telling you, the people own stock in — ”

“All Americans own stock in corporations?” Tur asked again.

“American people do,” Pittenger insisted, not seeming to understand that Tur was not debating his assessment of their nationality but rather their supposed abundance.

And when it came to tax cuts for working people rather than shoveling more money into the coffers of corporations, Pittenger again pushed back on Tur — and on reality.

TUR: Corporations were also sitting on 2.3 trillion dollars in cash — 2.3 trillion dollars already before this tax cut. So if they’re sitting on that much cash and they’re making that much money, and we already know that the pay rates between the CEOs of corporations and the workers of corporations is so far different than what it used to be 50, 60 years ago, why would you say, “Hey listen, I need more of those corporations to have more money.” Why not give it directly to the folks — why not do the job creation by giving the money to the middle class, to the lower class, to people who make less money so that they can reinvest in themselves?

PITTENGER: Well, I understand your narrative, and frankly, that’s the concept of socialism. And socialism never has worked. When all you’re doing is transferring wealth from one person to another —

TUR: No, it’s a tax cut, it’s not socialism. It’s a tax cut. They’re going to do a tax cut —

PITTENGER: — what you need to do is create a bigger pie, and you expand your economy, you create more jobs, and then you have more revenue back to the American government.

TUR: Tax cuts are not socialism, sir. Sir, tax cuts are not socialism. It’s a tax cut we’re talking about. We’re not talking about a government handout, I’m talking about a tax cut.

It is aggravatingly predictable for a Republican to laud the concept of tax breaks when the recipients are not in need of them, and to simultaneously decry them as “socialism” when the beneficiaries could actually use the extra money.

Pittenger’s baffling stance lines up nicely with that of his party, though. Certainly he would likely agree with his colleague, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who didn’t want to give tax cuts to non-wealthy people because they would just spend the money on “booze or women or movies.”

Or perhaps he agrees with House Speaker Paul Ryan that the public is just too dumb to even understand the GOP’s brilliant ideas.

The fact is that those middle-class and low-income Americans do understand the tax scam quite well — and they know they’re not the ones who are going to come out of it unscathed.

It’s not Americans’ lack of comprehension that’s the issue — it’s a Republican Party that stubbornly insists on living within a fantasy world to which the rest of us cannot gain entry.


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