In today’s GOP Senate primary debate between Todd Akin and Sarah Steelman, Akin resorted to his tried and true evocation of Greece as the exemplar of out-of-control spending:
America and you face a choice of two futures,” Akin told the audience. “The one we have seen many examples of is the McCaskill/Obama, and it’s a course that’s being charted to set us to be like Greece.
Apart from rethinking his prose style, which in the sample above, veers close to incoherence, Akin might want to reconsider the reference to Greece. If you recollect, Akin is so opposed to taxes, especially higher tax rates for millionaires, that he proposed doing away with food stamps for those living under the poverty line rather than raise the tax rates for the very wealthy. On his Web site you’ll find a press release which explicitly eschews new taxes and links spending, once again (ho-hum) to Greece:
We have a spending problem in Washington not a revenue problem and if we do not recognize and correct the massive overspending we are choosing a path to ultimate financial ruin such as the one Greece now suffers from.
Unfortunately for Todd’s go-to comparison, it seems that Greece may have just as much or more of a revenue problem as a spending problem:
Greece is a fairly small country, but for the past year it has been causing an awfully big uproar. Burdened by a pile of government debt that could force it into default (and the European banking system into a meltdown), Greece has had to adopt ever more stringent austerity plans in order to secure a bailout from the European Union. Explanations of how Greece got in this mess typically focus on profligate public spending. But its fiscal woes are also due to a simple fact: tax evasion is the national pastime.
Part and parcel of the Greek government’s efforts to deal with the country’s financial woes, are initiatives intended to reform a culture that is seriously derelict in regard to taxes. This given, it’s hard to figure out why Akin keeps falling back on Greece as his big-spending bugaboo. Of course, it’s just as difficult to figure out why folks like Akin have taken the opposite tack from the Greek government and work to inculcate a derelict tax culture, at least when it comes to letting big money off the hook.