It seems that little has changed from the last time I watched Rep. Chris Van Hollen debate former Bush OMB director turned senator, Rob Portman. He's still allowing him to fearmonger over the prospect of Social Security going broke instead of pushing back and discussing the idea of raising the cap on payroll taxes.
And once again, Portman got a complete pass on the fact that the Bush administration that he worked for are the ones responsible for blowing a hole in our budget a mile wide with with tax cuts and a couple of wars that were put on the credit card. He has no credibility whatsoever when it comes to economic policies or fiscal responsibility, but that's the way he was portrayed once again on Fox News Sunday.
Van Hollen was tag-teamed by Fox host Chris Wallace and Portman, who did their best to monopolize the segment with one right wing talking point after another, and Van Hollen did very little to push back on most of them during the time he did have to talk.
This is a perfect example of exactly what not to do if you're going to agree to go on Fox in the first place, which is generally a really bad idea for most Democrats.
Portman and Wallace both were pushing a recent CBO report, which predicts big deficits in the next few decades, but as Dean Baker pointed out today, "CBO is often wrong and that its scores may not always be the best basis for policy decisions." As he discussed as well in his piece, the Washington Post suddenly discovered that the Eisenhower administration would have never committed the money to build the interstate highway system if he had been forced to have the spending scored by a CBO as we're seeing today.
There was also no push back at all on the fact that Republicans and the right wing conveniently cherry pick the portions of CBO reports that they like and don't like to suit whatever political argument they're trying to make on any given day.
Republicans never cared about the budget deficit until a Democrat was elected to the White House, and now suddenly they're all about fiscal responsibility... especially when that means doing exactly what they've wanted to do anyway, which is to dismantle all of the New Deal programs which they've hated since their inception.
They should be called out for that every time they're on the air, but that sadly was not the case here. I wouldn't want to have to be defending the fact that President Obama put chained CPI out there as a bargaining chip, as Van Hollen was here, whether it ended up making Republicans look like the unreasonable obstructionists that they are or not, because it's not something that should have been offered in the first place. Apparently it's still too much of a lift for anyone in the Democratic party leadership to cross the president and admit it was a mistake, and a bad one.
You can read the transcript here for those of you that can't watch the video.