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Bruce Bartlett: A Republican Who Tells the Unvarnished Truth!

July 28, 2011

Bruce Bartlett is a former domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan.  He was also a Treasury official under the respectable George Herbert Walker Bush (who I liked by the way).

I happened to be watching Hardball with Chris Matthews the other night and I saw something shocking.  I witnessed a well-respected Republican placing the blame for the financial mess we are in firmly where it belongs, on the backs of the people who put us in this mess…mostly, Republicans.  Imagine that?

I am having a bit of trouble embedding the video on this page so I recommend that readers take this link:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036697//vp/43917503#43917503

It was an outstanding interview by Chris Matthews and my hat is off to Bruce Bartlett for speaking the truth.  MSNBC will hold you captive for a 30 second ad, then you can view the video.  It was really good and it explains a lot.  Here is the transcript from the video:

CM: Bruce Bartlett is former Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary under the first George Bush and a policy adviser to Ronald Reagan. Bottom line, let’s look at the numbers right now. We’ve got a chart coming up. This shows the Bush tax cuts were responsible for increasing the debts. Now, we have about a $14 trillion debt right now, half came out since the turn of the century, and more than 40% of that has been from tax cuts.

BB: That’s right. When Bush took office, we had a debt of about $6 trillion. The projections from the CBO were that we were going to run a $6 trillion surplus. By this point, if we had done nothing, we would have paid off the dead debt, but we added about $3 trillion of tax cuts. We lost about $3 trillion of revenue because of the slower economy and added about $6 trillion of spending, largely due to two unfinished wars and a Medicare drug benefits and a lot of other things. So, instead of getting — paying off the debt–we ended up with about a $14 trillion debt.

CM: Some of these clowns, not all of them, running around saying Barack Obama is a Socialist, he drove up the national debt to $14 trillion and dance around in a circle and congratulate each other. That’s not true.

BB: No, i think the dirty secret is that Obama is a moderate conservative. If I were a liberal democrat, I probably would be upset.

CM: The point is a $1 trillion debt, and another poring (?) is from the prescription drug bill. The whole rest of that is from a lousy economy under Bush and these two wars he came up with.

BB: That’s right. The Republicans keep saying the tax cuts are the key to prosperity. The 2000s are evidence that that is not true. We had booming economies in the 1980s and ’90s. If we went back to those taxes, we would be better off.

CM: What is the argument against the kind of tax policy– let’s just say it again. It seems like a heck of a great economy with the tax rate of about 39.6, as opposed to 35?

BB: Right.

CM: That’s the ones the rich bitch about, to use a crude term. That helped balance the budget.

BB: That’s right. Don’t forget that Ronald Reagan raised the capital gains rate, and now it’s only 15%, and of course the wealthier you are, the more of your income comes from capital gains.

CM: We showed the 400 richest people in the country. They pay about the same as a poor person pays, about 18%.

BB: That’s right, of income taxes, that’s right.

CM: Whereas the middle class, who think they are the majority of the country, they’re paying a higher rate.

BB: That’s right. I don’t see think any question we would have positive economic effects if we went back to the tax rates.

CM: How come I need to drag you on the show — the fact is, just a simple math, we have a $14 trillion debt, half came from the Bush era, almost, and the rest came from the prescription drug bill, and with a terrible economy and the two wars that he promulgated. That’s simple math there.

BB: That’s right, but in the Republican playbook, of course, the deficit is never caused by tax cuts–

CM: or wars.

BB: They go around saying they did not lose any revenue. A number of prominent officials, Mitch McConnell included, have said this. It’s just mathematically ridiculous.

CM: And it’s not Socialism, but if a Democrat says it, you can’t go into the ER anymore for free, you have to kick in something, which to me is pretty conservative. The Republicans call it socialism, they would rather you go to the ER and get treated free. That’s what’s going on now.

BB: The Obama plan, the Affordable Health Care Act was essentially the same thing as the Reps themselves —

CM: Richard Nixon pushed an employer mandate. He wanted the individual not to pay any costs, all bosses had to pay the health care cost. That would have been the Nixon rule.

BB: The Heritage Foundation, much more recently than that, proposed an individual mandate, now all of a sudden —

CM: I feel like sanity has just walked into the door. Bruce, so great, now that I realize you’re smart and have the numbers, give me two seconds. Any way to solve this kerfuffle?

BB: I think at this point, there’s nothing that can pass the House of Representatives.

CM: Because it’s too much of a zoo?

BB: Yeah, i think a good chunk of the Republican caucus is either stupid, crazy, ignorant or craven cowards, who are desperately afraid of the tea party people, and rightly so.

CM: I love it. Thank you. i can’t add to that. Bruce Barlett. You use tougher words than I use. I just say a zoo.

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2 Comments
  1. Sandra permalink

    Why don’t we hear this arguement every time a Republican assuses President Obama of overspending? I’d like to know how much President Obama really IS responsible for?

  2. Excellent question with no good answer. I think that the right has screamed “liberal media bias” so often that the media is constantly afraid to ask them tough questions. It is called “working the refs” and the Republicans do it with mastery.

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