August 14, 2010


(David Stockman - Forecast: Murky with periods of Fog)

If the panel of interviewers on this Face The Nation broadcast from February 6, 1983 seemed baffled by the Reagan economic program, most of the people in country watching and listening weren't any clearer.

So when David Stockman came on to explain just what was going on with the budget, the panel and the audience were treated to more bobbing and weaving than a remedial arts and crafts class.

George Herman (CBS News): “You said that domestic spending hasn’t come down as projected nor, you said ‘do I think it can’. Are you getting with domestic spending to the point where you’re bumping up against what the American people want for their poor or their elderly and so forth, things that you cannot really politically or in America’s idea of what it wants to be that you cannot further reduce?”

David Stockman: “Well I think there’s some element of that. I think there’s some element of the practicalities of the legislative process. I think if you look at the half-trillion dollars, that we have in this budget that’s being criticized for domestic programs, and that’s the truth; one half Trillion dollars, and you hear the criticisms what people on the Hill are really saying is that here and there we disagree with the priorities, but in the aggregate we could probably do with less. The problem is, the Congress isn’t capable of making decisions in the aggregate that result in less because of the way it’s organized . . .

Herman: “Well I’m not sure it’s fair, Mister Stockman, to blame it all on the Congress. When you get to questions of ‘should we cut Social Security’s Cost-of-Living Adjustments, or as you call them ‘cola’s’, should we reduce Medicare and so forth. This just isn’t Congress, the American people are troubled by . . .

Stockman: “I indicated that my statement reflected some of both elements. The bi-partisan solution on Social Security for instance, indicated that yes, in the last four years Cost of Living Adjustments have been 50%, wages have gone up 38% , we can have a six month delay. The speakers agree that will save $25 billion over several years. On the other hand, it was also felt as part of a consensus that no abrupt reduction in benefits ought to be imposed in that big system.”

Dodging, bobbing and weaving. In short, pay no attention to the men behind the curtain. You will hopefully forget soon enough.

Stockman would leave in 1985 and go on to another story.

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