Christie’s Logical Fallacy

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Gov. Chris Christie (R-New Jersey) offered a fallacious argument when questioned about Warren Buffett’s argument on tax increases for the wealthy. The logical fallacy is Ad Hominem Tu Quoque and is committed when “it is concluded that a person’s claim is false because 1) it is inconsistent with something else a person has said or 2) what a person says is inconsistent with her actions.”

When asked about Warren Buffett’s call for higher taxes on the wealthy, Christie replies: “If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check.” The implication is that since Buffet isn’t going to write a check, his argument is crap and he’s a hypocrite.

Buffett’s argument is that everyone in the upper tax brackets should be paying higher taxes. Just because Buffett doesn’t voluntarily choose to pay the higher tax rate is irrelevant to his claim that everyone ought to.

Here is the video:

H/T: The Non Sequitur.

64 thoughts on “Christie’s Logical Fallacy”

  1. Buffett bites back at Christie’s call to ‘shut up’

    Warren Buffett on Monday hit back against Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey for saying the billionaire investor should “just write a check and shut up” about taxes.

    “It’s sort of a touching response to a $1.2 trillion deficit, isn’t it, that somehow the American people will just all send in checks and take care of it,” Buffett said on CNBC.

    Then there’s this gem:

    In January, Buffett responded by saying he would match any contribution made by a Republican member of Congress to the Treasury to pay down debt and would triple the match for any donation by McConnell.

    I’m guessing he got no takers.

  2. Not to nitpick, but this is not an ad hominem attack. This is a straw man. Ad hominem would be something along the lines of “Mr. Buffet is filthy rich and, therefore, his views on the rich paying more should not be trusted.”

    Or, using a different example:

    “Mr. Clinton is a known adulterer. How can he say marriage is an important institution?”

    Mr. Christie, here, used a straw man. He changed Warren Buffets argument. He said approx.

    “If Warren Buffet WANTS to give more money to the government, he has that ability.”

    That implies Warren Buffet said “I want to give more money to the government! But no one will let me.”

    It is not attacking Warren Buffet the person, it is setting up a false and easy-to-defeat argument in place of Warren Buffet’s ACTUAL argument that the rich should bear a greater burden in funding the government.

    All politicians do this. Singling out Mr. Christie is odd, but apparently quite popular.

  3. The logical fallacy is not “Ad Hominem Tu Quoque.” Christie states “If he wants to give the government more money, he should write a check”. Based on this logic, then if I want to pay less (on none), then I should merely refuse to pay. I guess from here on out it’s every man decides for himself — or so Christie says.

    His first statement was “He should just write a check and shut-up … I am tired of hearing about it”. This sounds to me like Christie’s response to Warren’s logic is “Well, yes you’re right, but … SHUT UP!”

    I guess that Christie finds that getting emotional or personal or simply shouting helps to win arguments. Brilliant!

  4. Blouise,
    Thanks, now I know more. The first one, I think, was published in part as a summer series in the morning newspaper. A reading of only a few paragraphs showed me that his prose is as poor as his work associates say it always was. But never mind what the answer finally is.
    If you liked it, then I’m intrigued.
    Got to eat my stew, homemade. More later. Big smile for you.

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