I guess MSNBC thinks that Joe Scarborough doesn't get enough face time on their network since they just had bring him on the panel on today's Meet the Press. And who would think that Harold Ford Jr. and Juan Williams would be the two voices of reason in this week's Sunday lineup? Scarborough tried to compare Bush's spending to what's in Obama's budget.
MR. GREGORY: Welcome, all of you. Well, here it is. It's not a, a big document for $3.6 trillion, but it is a significant document. "A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise." And this is no ordinary budget. This is how David Leonhardt described it in The New York Times this week: "The budget that President Obama proposed is nothing less than an attempt to end a three-decade era of economic policy dominated by the ideas of Ronald Reagan and his supporters. ... More than anything else, the proposals seek to reverse the rapid increase in economic inequality over the last 30 years."
Joe Scarborough, tax increases and a real focus on, if you like, wealth transfer from the wealthy to the middle class.
MR. JOE SCARBOROUGH: If you like wealth transfer, this could be great.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: The, the thing though is I keep hearing people saying that this is a bold step forward, it is a new direction. I think, as a fiscal conservative, it's more of the same. For people to say that George Bush didn't engage in stimulus spending over the past eight years--I would say reckless spending--when you had two wars, tax cuts, a $7 trillion Medicare drug benefit plan and, and the biggest increase in domestic spending since LBJ, they--the Bush administration was about as reckless as it got. So to say that we're turning the page and we're actually going to double what George Bush did or triple what George Bush did doesn't seem like a new direction to me.
Yeah Joe. It's just the same. Why didn't I think of that? Ripping off tax payers to profit the drug companies. Starting endless wars with billions unaccounted for. No bid contracts for hurricane recovery and military occupations. Tax cuts for the rich like you voted for before you left office. It was stimulus! Yeah... that's the ticket.
And it gets worse from there. Gregory sounded like Brit Hume was not the only one to get the GOP talking points memo for the day. Harold Ford Jr. actually did a pretty good job of going after Scarborough for once. And Mike Murphy really, really wants someone else besides the very rich in this country to pay more taxes as well if we're going to raise taxes on those making above $250,000. What a guy.
Read the rest of the transcript below the fold.
MR. GREGORY: But, but, Mike Murphy, there is a fundamental shift here in the approach that Washington has basically been governed by for 30 years.
MR. MIKE MURPHY: Sure.
MR. GREGORY: It's a redefinition of government's role.
MR. MURPHY: Oh, it's an absolute earthquake ideologically. I mean, he was elected not--he didn't only win the election, in the House and Senate he has almost unstopped power. I mean, Republicans now are as close to irrelevant in Washington as we've been. We're kind of like eunuchs invited to a wild party at the Playboy mansion, you know. We get to watch, we have very detailed opinions about everything, but we're not participating. The problem is it allows him to lurch ideologically with tremendous speed.
And what bothers me about this is--as a fiscal conservative I don't like the policy, but we, we lost the election. OK. I hear all this talk about responsibility and sacrifice, but this thing massively increases public debt from about 8 trillion to 15 over 10 years, and it's all going to be paid for by the mythical rich who already pay that 5 percent, 62 percent of the taxes. So fine, I say, raise all their taxes. But I think everybody over about $50,000, if we're going to go into a big spending new French republic of America with a huge public sector, should pay a little more taxes. Get everybody to buy into this.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. MURPHY: Because it is a huge shift in the size of government.
MR. GREGORY: Let's break down some of the, the tax increases from more of a conservative point of view, as reported by the New York--excuse me, by the LA Times this week. "Brian Riedl," the coverage--the article points out, "a budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation, says `Obama's plan amounts to an unfair redistribution of the tax burden.' He said that the top 20 percent of taxpayers now pay 80 percent of all taxes collected by the government. And 40 percent of households pay no income tax. Under President Obama's plan, he said, the top 20 percent of tax filers would pay 90 percent of all taxes, and the number of families who owe no tax would climb to near 50 percent."
The question, Dee Dee, is in this kind of economic crisis--the Obama administration says there's no tax increases till 2011; nevertheless, is this what you do in the middle of a recession?
MS. DEE DEE MYERS: Well, the--like--as you just stated, the tax increases don't kick in until 2011 theoretically, at which time the Obama administration's projections are that we'll be back on a path toward pretty robust growth. There's some question as to whether those projections are actually going to hold up, whether we will actually be growing at a 3 or 4 percent rate by the time it's...
MR. GREGORY: Yeah. I don't know that there--anybody's saying there'd be robust growth by that point.
MS. MYERS: Well, 3 or 4 percent is, is pretty robust.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
MS. MYERS: That's what's in, in that document.
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
MS. MYERS: And so that raises some, some interesting questions. But Obama's working very hard to keep his promise, which is not to raise taxes on the 95 percent of, of middle and working class and lower class taxpayers.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
MS. MYERS: Can he pull this off without going back on that at some point and sharing the sacrifice more broadly?
MR. MURPHY: Because he has to pay for it with massive debt. That's the dishonest part about it.
MR. GREGORY: And we're going to get into that in a minute. Yeah. But...
FMR. REP. HAROLD FORD JR.: Let's put some of this in perspective.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
REP. FORD: In 1980, the top 1 percent of earners in the country controlled about 8 percent of the total economic pie in the country. Twenty-six years later, the top 1 percent now controls almost a quarter of the nation's total economic pie.
Two, back in 1993 when Bill Clinton passed his first budget, there were cries that if indeed it went through, the tax increases on the top earners in the country would cause a massive redirection of wealth from investment in the country, it would cause people to lose jobs, it would cause the government to run debt. As a matter of fact, the exact opposite happened. I remind people that no Republican, not one in the House voted in favor of that budget.
MS. MYERS: (Unintelligible)
REP. FORD: What happened? The largest peacetime expansion that we've ever had.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: But, but, but, Harold, you're, you're, you're just making Mike--you're making Mike Murphy's point, though, here. Back in the 1990s...
REP. FORD: No, I'm actually making a different point.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: No, you're not. You--in the 1990s there was a leveling wind that was called the Republican Congress in 1995. And I say this time and time again about this current crisis, this is what concerns me. You had Bill Clinton who loathed those of us that were in the Congress. Congress loathed Bill Clinton. But you know what, at the end of the 1990s it worked. We balanced each other out.
REP. FORD: But...
MR. SCARBOROUGH: We had the best of Clinton economics, the best of Republican economics.
REP. FORD: But the--but...
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. The economy exploded and our economy was only 18 percent of GDP. That was conservative leadership from Republicans and Democrats.
REP. FORD: But the same, but the same complaints...
MR. SCARBOROUGH: There's no balance now.
REP. FORD: The same complaints that come today came then, that we would find ourselves in a position a few years down the road where government would be, government would be too large, that somehow or another people would not invest in the country.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Well, Harold, Republicans balanced that out.
REP. FORD: The reality is that this is the most--this budget, whether you like it or not, is a totally different construct. This budget believes that government has a constructive, positive and even practical role in, in trying to not only correct markets but redirect them...
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Republicans believe that.
REP. FORD: No, no. But, but you can't...
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Harold, that's the false stories that you've been making...
REP. FORD: But you can't have it that--you can't have it every which way.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: ...or that Barack Obama's been making.
REP. FORD: You can't have it every which way.
MR. GREGORY: All right.
MR. MURPHY: (Unintelligible)...that's the difference. This is so big. I mean, we're quasi-nationalizing the auto companies. We're taking the, the federal debt in the next 10 years greater than the total federal debt of the history of the country, and we're paying for it by taxing the people who pay 62 percent of the taxes now, that 5 percent, which still is not nearly enough. It's, it's--that's what's dishonest about this. If we're going to build a French republic of a public sector that big, let's be honest with the American people...
MR. GREGORY: All right.
MR. MURPHY: ...and let everybody get in the boat and pay for it.
MR. GREGORY: Let, let me get in...
REP. FORD: Obama has said he's not going to take us down the same path we've gone the last eight years. We--the--in November voters said, "We want a different path." If it doesn't work, he's indicated, "I own this budget. I own this economy, and we may have to go in and get...(unintelligible)..."