A Colorado Republican Congressman is demanding that President Obama stop subsidizing China … through the Peace Corps. (More)

During a recent visit to China, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) was “shocked” to discover Peace Corps volunteers teaching English in Chinese universities:

Having the Peace Corps in China, where we have to borrow money from the Chinese to fund it, is an insult to every American taxpayer and to so many of our manufacturing workers who have lost their jobs to China.

He is now gathering signatures for a resolution in Congress to demand President Obama pull the Peace Corps out of China. The Peace Corps has about 140 Americans in China. All are volunteers, and the Chinese government pays for their housing. The total cost of the program: about $2.9 million, one-half-of-one-percent of the Peace Corps’ total budget. But the small savings don’t bother Rep. Coffman:

No doubt this is certainly a small amount of money given the context of our deficit, but it is symbolic of the arrogance and carelessness in how our tax dollars have been handled by Congress and the Obama administration.

Apparently even “symbolic” budget cuts are important. But not tax increases. Consider the Wall Street Journal‘s response to raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans:

An insightful reader post on Megan McArdle’s blog on the Atlantic uses IRS data to figure out how much money the government would raise by taxing certain wealth levels. He says a 45% rate on incomes of more than $1 million would generate $31 billion, while an even more progressive tax, with rates of 50%, 60%, 70% on incomes of $500,000, $5 million, $10 million respectively would generate an added $133 billion.

That is roughly 10% of the current annual budget deficit.

“My point is just that I don’t see how deficits this large can be closed with income taxes on the rich, even at marginal rates far higher than anything we’ve seen in the post-1986 era,” the reader says.

And rich people can always move and shift their income, which would reduce the amount of tax revenue raised.

So when it comes to tax increases, it’s all-or-nothing. If raising taxes on the wealthy won’t close the entire budget deficit, don’t raise taxes on the wealthy at all. But when it comes to funding for the Peace Corps, a tiny “symbolic” something is still important.

At least Rep. Coffman admits he cares more about symbols than substance.