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There's something refreshingly satisfying when you hear former Reagan Budget Director Bruce Bartlett dismiss Veronique de Rugy after her multiple attempts to inject the standard conservative economic talking points into the discussion: everyone knows that raising taxes hurts the economy; that there's a massive crisis in entitlement spending; that federal dollars spent at the state level meant there were no austerity measures, etc., etc. When de Rugy questioned whether taxes could restrain future spending, Bartlett blew up:
“But if you raise taxes first, then you wouldn’t have the deficits,” Bartlett said. “Your idea is so g–damn dogmatic that you’re living in a fantasy world where we’re going to balance the budget by abolishing Medicare and other ludicrous ideas.”
With the exception of the vulgarity, it's little different from the conversations occuring on any other Sunday news show.
But you know what important piece of information you were missing? Veronique de Rugy is a Senior Fellow of the Mercatus Center, which is housed at George Mason University. She is not paid by George Mason. Guess who funds the Mercatus Center?
n the mid-eighties, the Kochs provided millions of dollars to George Mason University, in Arlington, Virginia, to set up another think tank. Now known as the Mercatus Center, it promotes itself as “the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas—bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems.” Financial records show that the Koch family foundations have contributed more than thirty million dollars to George Mason, much of which has gone to the Mercatus Center, a nonprofit organization. “It’s ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington,” Rob Stein, the Democratic strategist, said. It is an unusual arrangement. “George Mason is a public university, and receives public funds,” Stein noted. “Virginia is hosting an institution that the Kochs practically control.”
The founder of the Mercatus Center is Richard Fink, formerly an economist. Fink heads Koch Industries’ lobbying operation in Washington. In addition, he is the president of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the president of the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, a director of the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation, and a director and co-founder, with David Koch, of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
That's right, the woman whose dogmatism prevents her from anything resembling an honest discussion of responsible fiscal policy is employed by a think tank founded and run by a lobbyist whose sole focus is the deregulation on behalf of energy companies.
It's this kind of cronyism that gave Time Magazine's Michael Grunwald his own Howard Beale moment (h/t David Atkins at Hullabaloo)
Given the rotten state of journalism in this country, it's nice to see not only cheetos-eating bloggers like me and Digby, but someone on the inside of the Village stand up and tell the emperor they have no clothes as well. Case in point: Michael Grunwald, senior editor of Time Magazine, calling out the not only the fiscal cliff fiction, but also journalists' role in perpetuating it:
Fiscal Cliff Fictions: Let’s All Agree to Pretend the GOP Isn’t Full of It
It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully passing along Republican complaints that President Obama’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff talks is just a recycled version of his old plan, when those same reporters spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan. It’s even more amazing to see them pass along Republican outrage that Obama isn’t cutting Medicare enough, in the same matter-of-fact tone they used during the campaign to pass along Republican outrage that Obama was cutting Medicare.
This isn’t just cognitive dissonance. It’s irresponsible reporting. Mainstream media outlets don’t want to look partisan, so they ignore the BS hidden in plain sight, the hypocrisy and dishonesty that defines the modern Republican Party. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans insisted that anyone who said they wanted to cut Medicare was a demagogue, because I’m more than three weeks old.
I’ve written a lot about the GOP’s defiance of reality–its denial of climate science, its simultaneous denunciations of Medicare cuts and government health care, its insistence that debt-exploding tax cuts will somehow reduce the debt—so I often get accused of partisanship. But it’s simply a fact that Republicans controlled Washington during the fiscally irresponsible era when President Clinton’s budget surpluses were transformed into the trillion-dollar deficit that President Bush bequeathed to President Obama. (The deficit is now shrinking.) It’s simply a fact that the fiscal cliff was created in response to GOP threats to force the U.S. government to default on its obligations. The press can’t figure out how to weave those facts into the current narrative without sounding like it’s taking sides, so it simply pretends that yesterday never happened...
This, a thousand times this. Not all sides in this debate are equal and the 'truisms' that partisans like de Rugy tried to steer the debate are anything but. They've been long debunked and one can simply look at the state of our economy with an eye to its historical cycles and intellectual honesty to see that they're still manifestly not true.
I think it's fine to have conservatives making their case to the viewing public. But let's be open about who pays them and what their agenda actually is, so that the viewing public has the opportunity to make a judgment about just how god-d*mned dogmatic they're being.