Maher On The Tea Party: If Your Agenda Is The Same As A Billionaire, You're Not Really A Populist Movement

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Bill Maher states the obvious when it comes to this astroturf "tea party" Republican re-branding effort.

MAHER: The Tea Party, it's supposed to be a party of the common man. A populist movement. And yet somehow everything they want is also what Steve Forbes wants. I mean, if your agenda is the same as a billionaire, you're not really a populist movement. And if they're supposed to be all about taxes and deficits and debt, most of the money, most of the deficit money, the debt money, was from under Bush. These are facts that they don't care about. Two wars that we put on the credit card.

He blamed our politicians and President Obama for not countering that rhetoric which I agree with but he left out the other culprit, the media and the problem with the amount of money it takes to get elected in America and the need for campaign finance reform. We're not going to fix the problem with our politicians catering to big business until we stop them being dependent on their money to get elected. It would be nice to see Maher get on the bandwagon and start advocating for public financing of our elections.

They also discussed Elizabeth Warren and the good work she's attempting to do to protect consumers and how she's one of the few actual advocates for the working class we've got out there trying to tip the scales back in the other direction for the little guy or gal out there.

Transcript via CNN:

SPITZER: I want to pivot for a minute to domestic politics. It seems to me -- and Bill, I think you and I pretty much agree on this. Two things that are remarkable about the last couple of years. The first 30 years -- for the past 30 years, the middle class has been squeezed and has suffered. Middle-class incomes have not gone up at all. The top 2 or 3 percent has profited amazingly well.

And the second thing is, we had this financial meltdown caused primarily by Wall Street. And yet out of that combination of things when you might have thought we'd get a turn politically towards a new vision of what government should do, it hasn't happened.

We've gotten the Tea Party and we've gotten anti-government rhetoric and a push once again for less government, less regulation. How did that happen?

MAHER: Well, if you read "Newsweek" this week -- our guest Friday is Tina Brown, by the way, one of our guests on the panel. There's a big story called -- I think it's called "Why are We So Dumb?" They did surveys. This happens all the time. And they ask Americans very basic questions.

I think they gave them the citizenship test that people who are trying to immigrate to this country have to take. And of course people just don't know very much.

The Tea Party is a party named after a tax revolt that does not know very much about taxes. It's very hard to get effective policy in place if the people are voting against their own economic interests.

The Tea Party, it's supposed to be a party of the common man. A populist movement. And yet somehow everything they want is also what Steve Forbes wants. I mean, if your agenda is the same as a billionaire, you're not really a populist movement. And if they're supposed to be all about taxes and deficits and debt, most of the money, most of the deficit money, the debt money, was from under Bush. These are facts that they don't care about. Two wars that we put on the credit card.

SPITZER: But Bill --

MAHER: The prescription drug bill --

(CROSSTALK)

SPITZER: Bill, let me interrupt you just to ask you this question. Let me ask this question. Where have been the elected officials educating the public instead of creating the void into which you get the sort of empty rhetoric that fuels the Tea Party?

In other words, where has the leadership been on the other side to explain --

MAHER: Right.

SPITZER: -- as articulately as you just did what got us to this precipice?

MAHER: I couldn't agree more. This is one of my big problems with our president. He never blames the Republicans for anything. He's their best friend. He always helps them with their narrative.

There's an oil rig that blows up in the Gulf of Mexico, and the party of drill, baby, drill does not get blamed. There's a financial meltdown, and the party of bank deregulation does not get blamed. There's an attack in Arizona with assault weapons, and the party that backs assault weapons doesn't get blamed.

SPITZER: Let me ask you this --

MAHER: You know when you see him talk to the -- yes?

SPITZER: Is it a perfect metaphor for everything that's wrong with our politics? That Elizabeth Warren, one of the few people who stood up and wanted to protect consumers, cannot be confirmed by Congress to be head of the consumer protection bureau. And yet any partner at Goldman Sachs could walk right in there and get virtually every vote in Congress?

MAHER: Well, you know that area way better than I do, Eliot. And you know, I have little crush on Elizabeth Warren. She's a frequent guest on our show. So I'm biased in that area. But you certainly -- she is if anyone is at this moment in our history the spokesman for the middle class, and who needs a spokesman more than the middle class?

Well, yes, perhaps the poor in this country. But both are struggling mightily. And why does she have to fight for this position? She's really only fighting to take a job to stop banks from basically screwing people with fine print. I mean, it seems like the banks do nothing but have entire divisions to figure out how to -- how to fake people into charges that they don't -- they shouldn't be paying, fine print that they didn't read, fees, and this is one person who was just saying, we're just trying to level the playing field and make it so you can understand it and you can't get charged for something you don't deserve to be charged for.

SPITZER: Well --

MAHER: And somehow that person is controversial? I don't understand it.

SPITZER: It is one of the great unfortunate paradoxes, as you have just said. That there are so many people out there who are voting against their own economic self-interest. And I'm with you, it is because we haven't explained it adequately and explained the facts and actually what he led to the financial debacle and to this maldistribution of income that we've seen over the last 20 years.

Anyway, Bill Maher, thank you so much for joining us. Your show is brilliant. I love watching it.

MAHER: Always a pleasure. We'll see you on it soon.

SPITZER: Look forward to it. Thanks, Bill.

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