From Fox News Sunday March 15, 2009. I think the only interests Chris Wallace may have in mind during this line of questioning are his own as he hammers Austan Goolsbee about a line in the introduction of the President's budget.
Wallace: Finally I want to get into a little bit of the Obama budget with you. 3.6 trillion dollars which calls for major tax increases on the wealthy. And I want to read you something from...the President's budget. "While middle-class families have been playing by the rule, living up to their responsibilities as neighbors and citizens, those at the commanding heights of our economy have not."
Mr. Goolsbee, it's a blanket statement from the Administration. People who make money have not played by the rules?
Goolsbee: I think you're stretching a little bit the blanket statement. It's not saying that it's been illegal. It's saying the rules of the game that the American economy has followed for decades is that the core strength of the economy is middle class workers. Over the last eight years before this President came into office we saw an unbelievable squeeze on the middle class like nothing we have seen in decades.
We go through the first boom in recorded economic history of the country where the median family income falls by $2000 while corporate profits and overall GDP rise dramatically.
Wallace: But, but...
Goolsbee: The President is saying in his budget that he is carrying out the recovery package and in the budget giving a tax cut to 95% of working people and that people who make more than $250,000 a year will go back to the rates that they were at the end of the nineties. That they pay a bit more. That isn't going to bring the economy down. And that style of thinking that it's going to trickle down and we should just keep cutting taxes at the top got us where we are today. It didn't solve the problem.
Wallace: But Mr. Goolsbee, again I'm quoting directly from the President's budget here, this is page five of the President's budget. Again he's saying those at the commanding heights of our economy, I assume that means people who are more than middle class have not played by the rules and then again let's go to this statement from page five "There's nothing wrong with making money, but there is something wrong when we allow the playing field to be tilted so far in favor of so few."
And again I guess what I'm asking is there seems to be a moral argument here that somehow people who have made money have done something wrong and need to pay for it and what you're saying, you say "there's something wrong when we allow the playing field to be tilted". The argument seems to be there's something wrong when the government allows people, rich people to keep their own money.
Goolsbee: Well we cut taxes by trillions of dollars for people making more than a quarter million dollars a year over the last eight years. That wasn't a magic elixir for growth. It was a very week recovery and we stumbled into the worst economic crisis in multiple generations.
Wallace: Why make the..I understand the economic argument. Why make that a moral argument? Something wrong. People at the commanding heights of the economy have not played by the rules. Why the moral argument?
Goolsbee: Well look you're taking a line from the introduction that sets the stage for the discussion which is we need to go back to an issue of balance. So in the nineties we had a more balanced view. We've gotten out of balance. People at the commanding heights of the economy with incomes over $250,000 a year have been receiving trillions of dollars of tax cuts while the middle class has been squeezed like never before. That squeeze on the middle class is what got us into this crisis. It's why the President is committed to renewable clean energy that makes us secure from foreign energy dependence. For reforming the education system. For health care. All of those things are about relieving the squeeze on the middle class so we don't get into this again.
Wallace: Simple question. Do you think maybe this is over-written?
Goolsbee: I think it's very well written.
Wallace: Did you write it?
As long as Wallace plays the good water carrier for the haves and have mores I'm sure his anchor chair is safe at Fox News.