Yes, this will be the laugher du jour, but Ed Markey’s critics will largely overshoot the mark. There is a difference between math and arithmetic. Unfortunately for Markey, he still gets even that wrong:
This is actually a pet peeve of my son, the Mathemagician, who regularly decries the fact that Americans are taught arithmetic more than math in elementary education. Math is a broad field of study of which arithmetic is just a base, and a lack of comprehension of the broader concepts creates all sorts of real-world problems for people later in life.
It also causes problems for Congress, thanks to careerists like Markey who have managed to run up national debt to Greece levels. Part of what drives deficits and therefore debt is the interest we pay on the outstanding debt we already have. We’re paying hundreds of billions of dollars in interest each year, which one needs to use algebra and not basic arithmetic to comprehend. Furthermore, the calculus (generically speaking, of course) of our unfunded liabilities within entitlement programs requires a little more than the + and x signs in equations. Budget deficit projections are also calculated on future economic growth, revenue assumptions, and other factors that greatly impact the analyses that drive public-policy decisions. And don’t even get me started on the difference between static and dynamic analysis, the latter of which takes a lot more than a freebie calculator from your insurance agent.
People like Markey who assume we can avoid ever repaying our debt and fix budget problems by soaking the rich are usually only doing arithmetic. We need more people doing math in Congress, and Markey is making it clear he should try doing something new after nearly 40 years in Washington.