tv [untitled] December 12, 2012 10:30pm-11:00pm EST
right we have a special edition of conversations with great minds with bruce part served in the staffs of former congressman ron paul and jack kemp and former senator roger jepson he's been the executive director of the joint economic committee of congress senior policy analyst in the reagan white house and deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the treasury department during the george h.w. bush administration reeses a columnist for the fiscal times and the author of several books including the new york times best seller impostor how george w. bush betrayed america and betrayed our bankrupt excuse me the american betrayed the reagan legacy his latest book is entitled the benefit and the burden tax reform why
we need it and what it will take restrains me now in the studio welcome happy new year pleased to have you with us in the american conservative view you recently wrote an article in which you suggested that the modern republican party is suffering suffering from epistemic closure which sounds like a latin for. what if well so i'm nicer than saying what i really think which is that they're all either crazy or stupid i mean it's the things have changed so dramatically since the days when i first got involved with the republican politics when the republican party was the party of ideas and now it's the party of crazy people ignorant tea party people people who know nothing and are proud of it and who get all their information from specified sources of fox news rush limbaugh crazy websites and nutty ideas circulate it. in this universe
within this bubble without any contradiction whatsoever now i thought and i think a lot of other sane conservatives thought that the people at the top you know the mitt romney and his advisors you know were not part of that group i mean they wanted to when they needed to know true facts live in the real world and it turns out they were living the same bob all there were they were they disbelieved all the published polls and they just convinced themselves that their ideas were popular and weren't crazy and that. they were going to win easily and they were just flabbergasted on election night when they didn't when everybody else knew this is this is insane to to what extent do you think that that might be a consequence of what i think david frum called it the conservative media complex yeah i mean you can make up names for it but it's you know it's of entertainment you know it's these people just live in their own universe where nutty ideas just
crazy ideas i mean for example there's a poll the other day by p.p.p. respected polling company they they found that fifty percent close to fifty percent anyway of republicans believe that a group called acorn stole the election this year twenty two well for obama now acorn is an organization that ceased to exist about three years ago this is that per se a nutty idea it is a stupid idea anybody who believes it is either stupid or crazy or and so you have half of republicans who said they believe this therefore half of republicans are either stupid or crazy could it be that they're just badly misinformed and perhaps it will be only misinformed they don't seek out any information other than from their own sources but i see that same thing on the progressive side and i think that to a certain extent the the web has siloed us you know people. look at read progressive
websites of the conservative web sites very few read both if you watch as a b. c. or they watch fox they don't watch well but you do have something called the internet we have things called newspapers we have plain weekly magazines and things of that sort i read the new york times in the financial times and the washington post you know in the wall street journal every day i mean that's how people used to get their information those things still exist you can pick up the new york times you can read it on on the on your computer any time you want to they willfully. facts i find this all the time with my own writing they simply deny that these things exist they just make up numbers and they have idiots like dick morris who tell them that they're right and then when the world doesn't conform to their fantasy they're they're shocked there's a isn't though there a certain level of human nature that seeks validation of one's world for sure and and so if somebody is going to peddle an allegation bias is very very powerful but
the difference of the differences used to not have the easy availability of a complete and total network you know in the broadest sense of the term where you never have to step outside the right wing universe to get right wing opinions and if you watch these shows you know fox that really should be called an entertainment network it's not a news network at all it's a propaganda network and they they don't it's all opinion you say they don't have any actual facts that appear in any of their publications they simply make things up but they're portrayed as that i have no objection to people presenting opinions i do on the show but to present opinion as news all of the thing and doesn't that in a certain at a certain level track back to eighty seven one one the reagan administration you were part of stopped and forcing the fairness doctrine which didn't require. as
mythology right wing with ology says that for every right wing voice there must be a left wing voice but instead required that if you're going to use the public airwaves you have to perform a public service typically the public service was news and all the news divisions of all the networks were separate in fact most of them lost money i worked in radio in the late seventy's early eighty's and at in news and if i was even caught talking to the sales people i'd get fired because you know it was in violation of the fairness doctrine or would a parent violation might that have something to do as well as no question that that set in motion it created talk radio for example and eventually led to the creation of fox news but i think it's kind of foolish to think you can put the toothpaste back in the tube there were a lot of problems with the fairness doctrine i mean your show couldn't exist if it still existed i think the idea i mean one of the problems that we have in the media today is in a sense that the media does have a fairness doctrine it's called false equivalency where if you quote
a democrat saying something that's factually true then there were required you know by their editors to quote a republican saying exactly the opposite and the reporter is not a wow to interject and say this guy is telling the truth this guy is whining that's the real problem but but in a sense that is the fairness doctrine you know we've got both sides and i write a good point you know my dad was an eisenhower nixon republican you know before nixon went nuts and. it's. that era i mean you go back and read i'm sure you're familiar with. nine hundred fifty four letter to his brother social security yes yeah and then the small number of people within the party you know who who are small in number and stupid. that republican party actually supported ninety one percent top income tax rate it supported the idea that.
corporations paid about thirty percent of the total cost of running the federal government which is now down to rubble levon percent. my sense of it is and i i was very involved in this i mean i i went with my dad i was thirteen years old when door to door for barry goldwater in sixty four or so and i bred you know john's farmers under color trees and i was looking out for the commies under the bed but my sense of it is that the republicans of that day if they looked at today at the rise of essentially oligarchy in the united states you know a handful of talkers yes that's a perfect word a handful of billionaires owning elections and owning politicians and now i would i would submit holding up a political party captive they would be horrified and my off base here now i think i think they were the republican party through reagan and the first president bush . didn't want to abolish the welfare state they wanted to make it run properly
and they also believe that if you were going to spend money you had to raise the taxes to pay for it now they wanted to cut spending of possible they wanted to get rid of waste fraud abuse etc but at the end of the day they felt the government needed to pay its bills and every republican until george w. bush was willing to support tax increases to pay for government and this was very important because one of the things that constrain the growth of government during that era was the people were afraid that they would have to pay more taxes if spending went up and now what has happened is they've said deficits don't matter all we want to do is starve the beast and cut taxes we don't really give a damn about spending and that is what really what has let the let the genie out of the bottle so the so these crazy republicans have actually created the foundation for the very deficits that they claim that they are opposed to you know when a scheme i work for jude went to school and in. he in. seventy six wrote an
article the two santa claus theory and very very probably the most important op ed article in history and basically suggested that democrats have always been santa claus you know they they had social security and they had work place benefits and the republicans are always been screwed say no we can't afford that right and that the republicans had to become santa clauses and so the republicans became the tax cut santa clause yes that was a suggestion the reagan administration virtually tripled the national debt as a consequence of tax cuts becoming the tax cut santa clause but not shooting. the social security santa clause as it were and the extension of jude's theory was at least as it seems to have been carried out by republicans over the years since then was forced the democrats to shoot their own santa clause by running up huge debts when republicans are in power it seems like that's how it's played out what are your thoughts on well i think there was an unstated assumption that maybe jude didn't even realize that was a powerful part of his argument which was that there was
a limit to the deficit so the theory was if you cut spend taxes and create a bigger deficit then to the extent that people are concerned about deficits and want to reduce deficits that will get channeled into cutting spending and that became something that is more popular known as starve the beast and it's the underlying principle underneath the tax pledge but it turned out that there wasn't that much of a limit to the deficit and so you ended up simply with lower taxes and higher spending and that's what we saw during the george w. bush era where he increased spending and cut taxes at the same time and that was really not the way judes theory was supposed to work so is there a alternative like a two thousand and twelve two thousand and thirteen strategy is it time for the republican party to let go of that and say oh they're not the tax cut santa clause they can't because the billionaires who control the party want tax cut. for
themselves and as long as you've got millions and millions of crazy tea party people who for some reason vote against their own direct economic interest and support the billionaires against themselves. you know we're kind of stuck and less the democratic coalition gets stronger but it's going to be tough because the republicans are probably going to control the house until the two thousand and twenty redistricting because of incumbency injury mannering and that gerrymandering is it's quite a significant thing there is actually the league incumbency is more powerful political scientists but the republicans actually got a half of actually now the count is a million fewer votes for the house races nationwide than the democrats have the last time i checked the democrats aggregate vote totals fifty point five percent for the house and yet they don't control the house and so that's that's a demonstration of both gerrymandering and incumbency areas. i want to get into
this whole issue of the plutocrats that you were talking about let's do that just a much more with bruce bartlett in a special edition of conversations with great minds right after this break. well. it's technology innovations all the developments from around russia we've got this huge you're covered.
welcome back to a special edition of conversations with great minds with bruce bartlett he's been the executive director of the joint economic committee of congress a senior policy analyst in the reagan white house deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the treasury department during the george h.w. bush administration and the author of several books including his latest in titled the benefit and the burden tax reform why we need it and what it will take let's get back to it we were we were talking about the you know what is driving this and you mentioned plutocracy i was talking about all the darky. to what extent has plutocracy seized either america or the republican party or both and twelve since you were telling i think it's to seize the democratic party too because they're all going hat in hand to the exact same wall street people and i think that's
a big problem i honestly don't know what to do about it well bill bill gates sr and a group of very very wealthy similarly wealthy and more wealthy even buffett was one of those people held a press conference i believe it was day before yesterday and suggested that the inheritance tax should go up i mean you've got you've got the six heirs of sam walton who own more wealth than the bottom thirty percent of america and they were the ones that turned out we learned this what two years ago i think that we had funded the effort to come up with the phrase death tax and. might that be i mean this was what teddy roosevelt proposed this was his solution actually it was thomas paine's original solution wrote about an agrarian justice well i think as a practical matter it's a first while politically they're never going to do much with the estate tax because there are too many democrats who essentially support the republican position which really is you should have no taxes on anything on anybody for any
reason now it's true there are a group of millionaires and there's a few of these groups but i think you know they may be rich. but they're not putting resources into this effort i mean you know mr gates sr will you know do various things but my friends the koch brothers and people of that sort sheldon adelson they're writing checks for tens of millions of dollars put for political action committees to my knowledge of the buffets of the world and the people that sort or not they don't have political action committees they're not putting their money where their mouth is and plutocracy i mean the the merger of corporate and state interests was defined by mussolini as fascism you people use that word people think hitler hitler was not a fascist he was
a cult leader in spain and italy they understood that mussolini dissolved the parliament to some is probably a better again he replaced all the elected representatives with the with the represent as the largest corporations in each congressional district. how are we
not almost there right now but we're certainly getting there but in a way it's not really corporations it's individuals it's very very wealthy billionaires who for whom checks of one hundred million dollars a sheldon adelson wrote just like you know ten bucks to you and me you know and so it's not so much corporation because they're actually constrained by the marketplace for example we saw that the what was the the this chain that the olive garden people you know they they put out something about how they were going to fire people to avoid having to give them health insurance or something their sales went way down and so pleased right exactly so there's there's a discipline that keeps corporations from from doing too much in this area but there's
nothing to stop charles or david koch from simply writing i mean there are each worth twenty billion dollars they could spend a billion dollars to write a by election it would be nothing to them nothing. and isn't that antithetical to
democracy at the end of the day or to a republic to a functional well functioning republic it certainly seems that way but i don't know how you get around the fact that we do permit free speech i mean it is there i mean by the u.k. they have a wealth tax and not just the u.k. i'm lot of that too and you know well tax but you wouldn't do it you wouldn't prevent the creation of a billion dollar fortunes all you do is raise some revenue. i i'm really at a loss to know exactly how to deal with the situation that that we've gotten ourselves into it is a tough one i'm curious what your thoughts are eric holder suggesting national voter standards are you going to shift the top or care a little bit and the problem to you but i guess you saw earlier the clip of part of the way rick saying you know our leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes on the survey sickly the republican party's plan. well there's no question the republicans you know i hate democracy when it comes right down to it.
they spend they they really don't think poor people and it's very common to hear republicans say that people on welfare should not be allowed to vote now if that wouldn't i think there's an awful lot of people who are on welfare namely the elderly who receive all the rain come from so security medicare who was vote republican and don't realize that they are the forty seven percent of moochers you know that the mitt romney denounced so i think that they're fundamentally opposed to democracy but they're also basically races they don't want anybody who's except that other than white people to be able to vote and i think they are and you saw this with bill o'reilly's rant on election night and they're just absolutely horrified that you know a coalition of blacks and latinos and asians and you know union members you know are basically going to be able to control the country and i think one. the reason
why they're behaving so crazily is because they're desperate because they know that the demographic trends are all going against them and they're just holding on for dear life to two and by the way i wanted to mention the american conservative which you referenced your article on the american conservative is a magazine just for the record and the title of the article was the revenge of the reality based community there you go reality and there was a great phrase that you created back here and here it is on screen. you mentioned this is kind of. we don't believe in democracy thread that runs the republican party. mr edmund burke back in the late eighteenth century you know thomas paine went over to england on his way to the french revolution and spent two weeks from burke's home and ended up with these huge fight that he literally wrote a book as a rebuttal to burn which was which was the rights of man and burke rather famously
said words to the effect of i'm probably doing this badly from memory but it does mean no harm if a man wants to engage in a profession as serve as that of tallow maker or hairdresser but it does society considerable violence of such a man is allowed to participate in governance in other ways we vote how is burke who is considered the godfather of american conservatism russell kirk and in his book all those mind opens it with those people have nothing more to do can with conservatism than lenin i mean they they don't nothing that people like and ran during you know control or conservative heroes and of course she was not conservative at all but keep in mind that the founding fathers basically held this view right i mean back in those days you had to be a male property owner to even be allowed to vote and we don't even have we have this electoral college system which was basically set up just in case you know the democracy picked the wrong person so it's kind of baked in the cake you say. and
that's i think a key problem that we have to deal with and of course now you're seeing republicans trying to undermine the electoral system by changing the states the way they their electoral votes are accounted for so as to give the republicans an unfair advantage it's they they never sleep they're just constantly working on stuff and to what end other than protecting the interests of the billionaires is i mean there used to be some guiding principles for the republican party but somehow or other they believe as and ran did that the rich are like john galt they they're the only ones who are productive the hall the rest of us are just lazy bombs and moochers and they carry us on their backs and somehow or other this propaganda has penetrated millions and millions of ignorant fools in the tea party who are the shock troops of this revolution. shock troops i mean and
a shade the shades of the thirty's and you're mean in some ways well yes it's the beer hall putsch although i don't know or not i'd suggest you know. i know who who ever mentions hitler first with a story and this is the argument but. so we'll just leave it at that you're a big fan of reaganomics and supply side economics i seriously doubt your thought how to how did it not work or how it did work in the eighty's the mistake that people make is thinking because something worked at a particular time under a particular set of circumstances that all work forever under any circumstances at any time and all i have said is that yes reagan's policies worked in the eighty's they will not work today we have different problems today tax cuts will do no good whatsoever it is the worst possible solution to any problem at all we have a lack of aggregate demand we need to be hiring people and building public works that's what the economy needs. you sound like john maynard keynes keynes was right
in the thirty's he was wrong in the seventy's and he's right today i mean what is wrong with that so i guess are you suggesting that there are cycles of history or economic cycles that the require a different kind of damned what you call it a cycle i just think you have to use analysis to examine the facts of the situation and figure out what is the appropriate policy given the nature of the problem that we face i just don't believe in cookie cutter economics where you just do the same thing you know over and over and over again so if the republican party is stuck in this rigid mold where they're afraid of the billionaires who could take them out and who put them in the first place and the democrats are trying to suck up to those same billionaires and really don't have control the house until two thousand and twenty. what what is going to save the republic. well or are we are we looking at another you know bubble burst the great depression or something. i don't know but but we have been through these cycles before i think
we're at the end of a new gilded age and the gilded age you know was very if you look at the history the eight hundred eighty s. very similar the history today and it finally burned itself out and we had a progressive era and i do think the pendulum is swinging back towards the left and to be more progressives at that time it teddy roosevelt was if you were us there at all he would be considered a communist i mean i'm generally considered on the left these days even though i still consider myself to be on the right it's just that all the people on the right of move so much further to the right i'm standing still on the left has moved to the right as well there's no real left in this country i mean by that i think viewed in history we do it in ca and historical context obama is really on the center right he really is and anybody who thinks he's on the left is just crazy i think it is policies are not even remotely liberal and and the the social.
on the car all part of the usa i had the president in the army is about the kind of union movement has been very very damaging to our politics that's that's a remarkable perspective bruce bartlett thank you so much for bringing everything to this program sharing sharing your thoughts with us i really appreciate. to see this and other conversations with great minds go to our website conversations with great wealth. and that's the way it is today wednesday december twelfth two thousand and twelve. and don't forget democracy begins with you when you decide to get out there and get active show up participate tag your seat.
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