Conservative economist Ben Stein on Thursday seemed to know that he had wandered off message when he joked that the hosts of Fox & Friends might murder him for saying that it was not possible to balance the budget without raising taxes.
"I hate to say this on Fox -- and I hope I'll be allowed to leave here alive -- but I don't think there is anyway we can cut spending enough to make a meaningful difference," Stein told the three shocked co-hosts. "We going to have to raise taxes on very rich people, people with incomes of like say, 2, 3 million a year and up, and then slowly move it down."
"You do not think Washington just has a spending problem?" Steve Doocy wondered.
"I do not think they just have a spending problem," Stein explained. "I think they also have a too-low taxes problem. And while all due respect to Fox, whom I love like brothers and sisters, the taxes are too low."
The economist noted that even more revenue could have been brought in during President George W. Bush's presidency if taxes had not been cut.
"The evidence is that there is no connection between the level of taxation and the level of economic activity," he pointed out. "The biggest growth we've ever had in this country was roughly 1941 to roughly 1973, that was the best years we ever had and those were years of much, much higher taxes than we have now, during war time and during peace time. So, the economy can grow very fast, even with much higher taxes. And we're going to have to do something."
"Taxes were like 70, 80 percent!" Doocy exclaimed.
"I know," Stein agreed. "And yet, we were very prosperous, we were extremely prosperous. I mean, the highest rate was in the 90s during parts of the 50s and, yet, we were very prosperous."