In a previous post picked up in several tax blogs, I noted that Ken Salazar, who represents Colorado in the U.S. Senate, was quoted making a gross misstatement about the meaning of adjusted gross income in the context of the farm bill he has been pivotal in negotiating (saying that AGI was determined before, rather than after, business expenses). Many people took him to task for doing so, despite being an experienced lawyer from the University of Michigan law school and holding himself out as a farmer.
More troubling, which I didn't realize until today, is that Ken Salazar also serves on the Senate Finance Committee, and in particular on the Subcommittee on Taxation, IRS Oversight and Long-Term Growth. Thus, he is one of thirteen Senators charged with given special attention to how the Internal Revenue Code is written. This makes such a fundamental misunderstanding of such a basic tax concept much more distressing.
While it may be too much to expect that every elected official has a basic understanding of basic tax concepts, we would hope that the people on the subcommittees that actually write our tax laws would understand such things.