David Brooks: The Public Just Needs To Be 'Educated' On Coming Budget Cuts

David Brooks thinks that the public is going to need to be "educated" to understand why our politicians feel the need to be making these draconian budget cuts at a time when we have so many unemployed or underemployed in America and when our economy
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David Brooks thinks that the public is going to need to be "educated" to understand why our politicians feel the need to be making these draconian budget cuts at a time when we have so many unemployed or underemployed in America and when our economy is still struggling to recover after the meltdown on Wall Street. I think the bigger problem is way too many of them taking seriously anything the likes of David Brooks and his fellow Villagers have to say about budget cuts.

He also made this bizarre statement during this segment on Meet the Press that makes no sense to me at all.

BROOKS: We're going to cut things that are consumption or we're going to cut--and this is the politically hard part but the unavoidable point--we're going to take money away from affluent seniors and we're going to direct it to young people who are learning the most. We're going to transfer money to those who we can really invest in. And that's the politically difficult thing. But the fact is, we have a redistribution machine sending money from the young to the old. We've got to reverse that.

I assume he's talking about means testing Social Security and turning it into a welfare program, but the rest of it just sounds like psycho-babble to me. Maybe someone else can interpret it for me but I'm having some trouble decoding his Villager double-speak here. And sorry David but the only income redistribution I've seen going on is from the poor to the rich, not from the young to the old.

And someone needs to remind David Brooks that Social Security is not responsible for our deficit problems. They keep having these conversations day in and day out in our media where they conflate Social Security with Medicare and Medicaid and lump them together as "entitlements".

As Eugene Robinson rightfully pointed out here, what Americans do care about is job creation. We're never going to fix the problem with our deficit if we don't get people back to work. But instead of having rational conversations about how we actually do that, we're continually hearing how the working class just hasn't sacrificed enough when we have some of the worst income disparity in America since the Gilded Age.

Here's the full transcript.

GREGORY: Let's get right to it and I want to talk about the immediate stalemate here in Washington over the budget. This is something from our poll that was quite interesting, this question of role of government. Should the government do more or less? Fifty-one percent say do more; 46 percent say it's already doing too many things. I mean, this is the crux of the debate over reining in government spending.

BROOKS: Right. The country really doesn't know what, what it wants and that's the essential problem. The country wants more government than it's willing to pay for. And so the question is, how do you get out of that situation? It's going to take a public education campaign to explain to people with pie charts and all the rest, "Here's what we've got, here's what's coming. Where do we cut?" And so, as you said earlier, neither party wants to go first. I was with a bunch of Republicans yesterday, and they are sort of--have talked themselves into taking on entitlements in some form. And now that they've taken this step off the cliff, they're saying, "Eh, how we going to do that?" And they haven't quite figured that out. The Democrats, meanwhile, and the White House is sort of hanging back, playing a little rope-a-dope...

GREGORY: Right.

BROOKS: ...and letting them go forward. And that might be the smart strategy. The downside of that strategy is the president looks passive in this debate, and, and there's some weakness there.

GREGORY: Eugene, this is the question, if Republicans are dominating the debate, which is now overspending the White House would like to keep drawing them over and maybe even force them to, as I asked Congresswoman Bachmann, to shut down the government over funding of Planned Parenthood, for instance. But there is this split between Republican leadership and the tea party caucus and who's driving the train here.

ROBINSON: Exactly. That may be the more interesting split in Washington right now.

GREGORY: Yeah.

ROBINSON: Can Speaker Boehner and, and Majority Leader Cantor really, frankly, control the, the rank and file, especially the tea party freshmen who, who might want to slash and burn in a way that does shut down the government. And no one knows the political ramifications of that. You know, one interesting thing from that poll, though, David, is while we have this almost equal split, "should government do more or less," one thing that was clearer is that people rank jobs and economic growth over deficit reduction as their priority. And I think that kind of--it didn't back up Republicans this week, but it made people pay attention.

GREGORY: Well, and I'm curious about whether Republicans realize that--it doesn't seem to me that that message is resonating, that is, if we don't deal with our fiscal problem, we have uncertainty, and therefore the economy can't grow. That's the line that they're drawing through it. And you see from our polling, people want that focus on immediate job creation. And that gets to the president's point, which is you got to get the balance right.

BROOKS: Yeah.

GREGORY: You can't grow if you keep cutting so much.

BROOKS: Yeah. You've got to have some priorities, and I'm not sure they've gotten there. For example, you could say we're going to cut but we're not going to cut things that invest in our future. We're going to cut things that are consumption or we're going to cut--and this is the politically hard part but the unavoidable point--we're going to take money away from affluent seniors and we're going to direct it to young people who are learning the most. We're going to transfer money to those who we can really invest in. And that's the politically difficult thing. But the fact is, we have a redistribution machine sending money from the young to the old. We've got to reverse that.

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