Hardball | March 07, 2013
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: We have been left in our time a great number system . It was developed by Arab and Persian mathematicians living in India and transferred to Europe in the Middle Ages . It's a wonderful system, actually, so much easier than Roman numerals with its X's and I's and D's and C's and M's. What's great about our number system is the ease with which you can haggle -- like in an Arab market place. The guy says the item will cost you $9, you say $7, he says take it for $8 -- beautiful! So the Republicans want to cut spending. The Democrats say they want to raise taxes, especially on the well-off. They both say they want to cut the deficit, stop adding to the national debt. So, fortunately, we have a perfect numbers system to do it. The conservatives say the federal government should only spend $1 out of $5 produced by the economy each year. One dollar in five. Conservatives also say the federal government shouldn't run a deficit. Simple, then, raise $1 in $5 in taxes, or stop complaining about the deficit. Same for the Democrats . The math works just as well for them. If they want the government to spend more, they should back a revenue level up to that amount.
So if both sides want to bargain, if they really want to get to a solution, here it is: both sides have to agree to: (a), to tax enough to pay for the government they believe in; and (b), limit the size of government to the level they're willing to tax to pay for. Go ahead, the number system is fine, perfect for haggling -- and you don't have to head over to the Jefferson Hotel to do it.