BILL MOYERS: Heather McGhee speaks of how the neoliberal economic experience of the last 30 years – including cutting taxes on the rich and waiting for the wealth and prosperity to trickle down -- has left her generation of Millennials standing under a spigot someone forgot to turn on. After a few drips and drops, it went dry. So did the very notion of equal opportunity for all. And today we’re living in a country deeply divided between winners and losers. Nowhere is that more evident than in our tax system – so distorted by loopholes, exemptions, credits, and deductions favoring the already rich and powerful that it no longer can raise the money needed to pay the government’s bills.

Among the people who saw this crisis coming was the conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, the supply-side champion who wrote the manifesto for the Reagan Revolution. Bartlett became a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House and a top official at the Treasury Department under the first George Bush. Yet for all those credentials, he is today an outcast from the very conservative ranks where he was once so influential. That’s because Bruce Bartlett dared to write a book criticizing the second George Bush as a pretend conservative who slashed taxes but still spent with wild abandon. The subtitle says it all: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.

For his heresy Bartlett was sacked by the conservative think tank where he worked. Undaunted, this card-carrying advocate of free markets and small government has been a prolific writer for popular and academic journals and has just published a new book: The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform - Why We Need It and What It Will Take. It’s a layman’s guide through the jungle of a tax system that, thanks to rented politicians and anti-tax ideologues like Grover Norquist, enable the one percent to make off like bandits while our national debt soars sky-high. I talked to Bruce Bartlett soon after he had finished his new book.

BILL MOYERS: You've made the point that America's top earning one percent had an effective 33.1 percent federal income tax rate in 1986, and an effective rate of only 23.3 percent in 2008. And you say if the top one percent had kept paying at the 1986 effective rate, quote, "the federal debt today would be $1.7 trillion lower." That's a lot of money.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Well, that's right. And when I say effective rate that means the taxes that they paid divided by their income. So that tells you what the revenue is that the government gets from taxing them. And clearly, they were doing okay at the beginning of that period.

And that was Ronald Reagan's administration. Up until 1986, the top marginal rate, the top statutory rate was 50 percent. Now it's 35 percent. And all the pressure is on to lower that even further. And this just doesn't make a great deal of sense to me. When people say, 'Oh, we can't raise taxes on the rich. They'll go on strike, they'll move to another country.' But within recent memory, it hasn't been that long ago that we had rates that were substantially higher. And these people did just fine.

BILL MOYERS: Well, when I was growing up in the '50s the top marginal tax rate, if I remember correctly, was 91 percent.

BRUCE BARTLETT: That's right. And I just think that there's a disconnect between the facts of what taxes do and the sort of mythology of what they do.

I think in many ways, the tax debate is a code for an attitude towards the individual vis-à-vis government. If you think government is bad or incompetent, if you glorify the individual against the state, then taxes is sort of your, the territory where you're going to fight these battles.

It's a signaling mechanism. It tells people you're one of us on the tax issue. You're for tax cuts and low tax rates and things like that. And that translates into an attitude towards government that goes into spending and lots of other issues.

BILL MOYERS: It's also a case, though, isn't it, that if you pay taxes, whatever taxes you pay, you want to get some services in return. You want your mail to be delivered on time, the potholes to be fixed, the bridge to be safe, the schools to teach your children. And there is that dissatisfaction with government because it hasn't been delivering the services that people really have a right to expect.

BRUCE BARTLETT: That's true. The composition of government spending has changed enormously over the last 50 years or so. The vast bulk of federal spending goes to Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, interest on the debt. And that has a lot to do with, I think, people's attitudes towards government. They view this redistribution policy as taking from me and giving to them, so there is an antagonistic attitude towards that kind of just shuffling money around. And, but people don't seem to be willing or able to confront that fact, and instead, have concentrated solely on the tax side of the equation. But you can't do one without the other. You just can't keep cutting taxes unless you're going to start cutting spending meaningfully, which means essentially, cutting Medicare. That is the 600 pound gorilla.

BILL MOYERS: You write the Bush tax cuts have added at least $3 trillion to the debt. When Bush took office, budget projections showed a $6 trillion surplus, enough to pay off the pending $6 trillion national debt.

Instead, by the time Bush left office, the national debt had ballooned to over ten trillion, and the Republicans are refusing to take responsibility for having driven the borrowing binge that put the nation in the hole it is in now.

BRUCE BARTLETT: That's exactly correct. One of the things that Bush argued during the campaign, not so much after he took office, is that budget surpluses are a bad thing. Because they might get spent. It really sounds silly when you say that. But he did say this over and over again.

And so, the idea of cutting taxes was a part of a policy that I call starving the beast. It's you take away the government's credit card, as Ronald Reagan said. And this will force spending down. This will shrink the size of government. And conservatives believe that there's only so much freedom out there. And the more the government, the more power government has, there's less freedom for the people.

And they have a tendency to look at this in terms of spending as a share of GDP. So it can be measured very precisely. So if the federal government takes 25 percent of GDP, then essentially, we have only 75 percent freedom. We're not 100 percent free. You know, if we could cut government spending down to 20 percent of GDP, then we would gain five percent freedom. We'll go from being 75 percent free to being 80 percent.

I'm serious. This is the way they think. And this drives a lot of these policies that on the surface don't make any sense. They're just about taking away the government's resources to force it to shrink to -- if you cut the budgets of the regulatory agencies, then they can't regulate. This is a good thing.

They really believe that there's absolutely nothing good that comes out of government, unless it comes out of the Pentagon.

And the starve the beast theory is really extraordinarily pernicious, because one of the things that it is related to is the so-called tax pledge, which my friend Grover Norquist came up with. And which has become a ban on raising taxes at any time for any reason.

But at the same time, all tax cuts are okay. So you just have this constant ratchet down. Every time you can cut taxes, you've lowered the threshold that you can never then go up against. So it's like you're coming down a series of stairs. And this is all very conscious, because Grover believes that if you take away the government's ability to tax, it will necessarily be forced to spend less. Government will shrink. Freedom will increase. It's that simple.

BILL MOYERS: Grover Norquist is the one who famously said that he'd like to shrink the government to the size where it could fit into a bathtub and be drowned, take it back to the size it was before World War II.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Well, we'd have to go back before World War I, really, to get to that size.

BILL MOYERS: You remember back when the first George Bush was in the White House, and he raised taxes because even though he had said, "Read my lips, no new taxes," in his convention speech, his acceptance speech, he raised taxes because he felt the economic situation necessitated new taxes. And the conservative Republicans went after him. They were willing to take down one of their own.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Yes. And they did. Remember, you had Ross Perot running. You had -- and a great many Republicans voted for him because they thought that George Bush was a turncoat, and I think Mr. Bush's support for a tax increase in 1990 was an enormous act of courage that no Republican has been willing to show since, and probably never will.

I mean, would you want to be a Republican running in a Republican primary, where Grover Norquist comes in and says, ‘This guy must be defeated because he violated the pledge, or he refused to sign the pledge’? The members of the Tea Party don't need to know anything else. That guy's history.

And we saw during the 2010 campaign that these Tea Party people are capable and perfectly willing to defeat incumbent Republicans even when -- at the cost of having that seat go to the Democrats. You saw guys like Robert Bennett in Utah, who is no liberal by any means.

BILL MOYERS: He was the epitome of the conservative--

BRUCE BARTLETT: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: Stalwart. And--

BRUCE BARTLETT: But he wasn't conservative enough. And so, they tossed him out.

And Republicans lost seats in places like Colorado and Delaware, where the Tea Party people were so insistent that their own people be in there, and that they don't have these RINO Republicans, you’ve probably heard that term, stands for Republican in name only. And believe me, among Republicans there's nothing worse that you can be called. But there’s other groups as well. The Club for Growth has been extraordinarily important.

Because they ensure that there will always be unlimited or virtually unlimited financing available to anybody who runs against a RINO, against a tax pledge breaker, or somebody who refuses to sign the pledge. They're very, very obsessed about this.

And they just have vast sums of money. And even before the Citizens United decision made it easier for them to raise money, they still had an enormous amount of money available. And I honestly don't know where it's coming from or what we can do about it.

BILL MOYERS: You've made it clear that the Bush cuts were worth little to those making $150,000, but a huge amount to those making five, ten, 15, $25 million. Do those folks in the Tea Party get that?

I'm not sure. I'm not sure if they really know very much about taxation. Back when the Tea Party first came into existence, back in 2009 they had a big demonstration in Washington. And we went around and we surveyed a good percentage of the people in this demonstration about what they knew about taxes, what they thought the top rate was, what they thought their tax rate was. You know, questions of just straight factual knowledge, not opinion.

And it turned out that these people all thought taxes were vastly higher than they really are, and that they were paying exorbitantly high tax rates that would be impossible for them to pay. And so, I think that this is part of what's going on here, is simple misinformation.

And there have been other polls and things that are showing the same thing. I mean, if you really thought, if you're a typical middle class person, you really believe the government was taking half your income, you'd be out demonstrating. But the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people pay less than 10 percent federal income taxes. So they simply have a wrong understanding of what they pay.

BILL MOYERS: Well, there are all the other taxes, of course. State taxes, sales taxes, toll fees and all of that.

BRUCE BARTLETT: That's true. But all taxes taken together as a share of GDP is only about a third, or even less. More -- it's like 30 percent. That's all federal, state and local taxes all put together. So that you're not going to have taxes being much higher than that for anybody.

BILL MOYERS: You remind me that ideology is a worldview that can be believed despite all the evidence to the contrary.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Well, it's very much like religion. And I think that it's not a surprise that so many very, you know, devout Christians are a part of the Republican Party and accept a lot of this. Because the nature of deep religious belief is faith, which means you accept things for which there is no proof.

And so, I think it's not that hard to shift that faith over to believe a lot other things that you've been told are true so many times that you just accept that on faith as well. That if you cut taxes, revenues will go up, you know, and things of this sort. That all tax cuts are good and all spending cuts are good, and all government is bad.

BILL MOYERS: Are you pessimistic?

BRUCE BARTLETT: Oh, absolutely. I'm very pessimistic.

BILL MOYERS: What makes you most pessimistic right now?

BRUCE BARTLETT: The gridlock in Congress. Or I don't know. It's the lack of willingness to discuss issues in a reality-based way. We just seem to live in a zone in which people no longer really seem to care about facts or analysis. And we talk in sound bites.

And the media of course contribute to this. The decline of the major media. People don't want to read magazines. They don't even want to read a newspaper article if it's more than a couple of inches. And if it doesn't mention Lindsay Lohan, they move on.

Clearly people don't seem to know as much. And they don't seem to care that they don't know as much about public policy or just the basic facts of, you know, how much does the government tax, how much does the government spend? What does the government spend money on? I've seen more than one poll that shows people believe that 20 percent of government spending goes to foreign aid.

20 percent. It's actually one percent. But of course if you believe a huge percentage of government spending is going to just giveaways to foreigners then why not cut taxes and slash spending? It's not coming out of anything that matters to you. People have to be given the factual information they need to make decisions. And they're not getting it. And they may not even want it.

BILL MOYERS: I just read a summary of a study done at the University of Michigan that over a period of time shows that people have confronted with facts they believe to be true will reject them nonetheless if they offend or undermine their belief system. That their beliefs -- our beliefs are more important to us than the facts.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Oh, I think we need some -- instead of talking to economists like me, we need to be talking to psychologists and sociologists to try to get at the root of this problem.

BILL MOYERS: You wrote in the Washington Post, "The growing inequality of wealth and income distribution is both a moral and economic problem." How do you see it as a moral problem?

BRUCE BARTLETT: Well, I think it's wrong to have people with such extraordinary wealth that pass it down from one generation to another, with people not having to work for a living, being able to have control perhaps over government. Clearly wealth and power are interrelated at least to some extent. And, of course you see members of both parties now going hat in hand to the exact same group of people on Wall Street.

And it's naïve to think that they're not getting something for their contributions. I don't think it means that politicians are being bought. But when the class of people that they spend all of their time with, talking to and so on, they're bound to pick up part of their point of view, their attitude. And, of course, many politicians these days hope to be able to join those groups of people.

BILL MOYERS: When they leave office--

BRUCE BARTLETT: When they leave office, that's right.

BILL MOYERS: 300 former members of Congress are now lobbying in Washington.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Yes indeed. But it’s more, I don't know, class consciousness is the only word I can think of, but it doesn't really get quite at what I'm talking about. It's the community of shared interests.

But we have public policy problems. For example, we have a large budget deficit that many people, myself included, believe will require higher taxes to deal with at some point. But -- and so, if the wealthy don't contribute more, then the rest of us are going to have to contribute more.

If the wealthy are unwilling to pay more taxes, then this is going to lead to spending cuts. And if you put off the table things like national defense, then you're going to end up cutting more and more out of programs that aid the poor. So, I think there are consequences to this idea that tolerance for inequality requires us to -- to just do nothing to make the wealthy contribute a higher share of resources to fund the government.

BILL MOYERS: Here's some data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Let me see what you think about this.

Between 1979 and 2007, about 30 years there, roughly 40 percent of all income growth, post-tax, post-benefit, accrued to the upper one percent. And in just the five years between 2002 and 2007, over half went to the top one percent. What do you make of that?

BRUCE BARTLETT: It's extraordinary. But I think it's even worse than the data show because if you disaggregate the one percent, you find out that the vast bulk of the gains made by the one percent were by the top 0.1 percent. So -- and this also makes another point, which is that if you ignore the top one percent, the increase in inequality is not that great.

The income classes of the bottom 99 percent have moved more or less together. It's the top one percent that has just skyrocketed up out of proportion to everybody else. So, in other words, there's a huge difference between being in the ninety-eighth percentile and being in the ninety-ninth percentile. And it's important not to lump in people who merely make, you know, a couple hundred thousand dollars a year with people who are making millions upon millions, and even billions of dollars a year.

And that's something that I think is not -- doesn't always come through in the context of the debate. We're talking about a really small number of people, in the hundreds, who have really acquired a huge outsized share of all of the gains that this country has made in terms of income and wealth over the last few years.

BILL MOYERS: More than any other group, the tax rates for the wealthiest Americans have been coming down these last 30 years. This couldn't have happened without a bipartisan consensus that it's a good thing.


BILL MOYERS: How did that happen?

BRUCE BARTLETT: Clearly, ideology has a great deal to do with it. The conservative side of our political spectrum has had an outsized voice over the last few years. I think especially since the establishment of Fox News, which has created an echo chamber in which people just hear the same ideas repeated ad infinitum.

And you know, it's just basic advertising, basically. You hear the same idea over and over again. Or you can call it propaganda if you like. It's broadly believed and people just keep saying these things all the time, that ‘Rich people create jobs.’ ‘Yes, rich people create jobs.’ ‘They're motivated primarily by taxation.’ ‘Yes, they're motivated by taxation.’ ‘We must cut their taxes.’ ‘Yes, we must cut their taxes.’

BILL MOYERS: Becomes a mantra.

BRUCE BARTLETT: That's right. Year after year after year of people watching Fox News and listening to talk radio, had conditioned them in advance to believe that the government is responsible for all of our problems.

BILL MOYERS: Your old boss, Ronald Reagan, said government is the problem, not the solution. And Bill Clinton, Democrat, echoed that refrain when he was in office.

BRUCE BARTLETT: One idea that a friend of mine, Mike Lofgren came up with, is that the conservative side of this political spectrum hates government, per se. And it's in their interest to make it be ineffective. And so, they'll cut the budget, for example, for a regulatory agency such as the Securities and Exchange Commission.

And then, when some problem arises on Wall Street, they will then say, ‘Ha-ha, this proves that the SEC doesn't work.’ And this will justify further cuts in the agency's budget, so that everything that they do reinforces their basic ideology, which is that government is the source of all of our problems. Government doesn't work. And then they make sure that it doesn't work by cutting its budget and tying its hands so that everything is a race to the bottom and it didn't use to be that way.

I think coming out of World War II in particular, people had a much more positive attitude towards government. It was something that was capable of doing good. And, of course, that led to the creation of many programs, to aid the poor and the middle class. Housing programs, things of that sort.

BILL MOYERS: But if it's true that in some profound way Washington, the government, has made the rich richer, and turned its back on the middle class, you can hardly blame Tea Partiers and others for saying, ‘Why should I be taxed more for the government? The government's working for them. It's not working for me.’ Isn't that dynamic working out here?

BRUCE BARTLETT: I think so. I mean, certainly the Occupy Wall Street group has some similarities with the Tea Party group in that regard. And I've always thought that a lot of these Tea Party people could easily switch sides, like, overnight depending on the circumstances. For example it's obvious that a lot of Tea Party members tend to be elderly. You've seen that famous sign, "Tell the government to keep its hands off my Medicare." And I think as long as the government does keep its hands off their Medicare, they're fine with talking about low taxes.

But once they start to realize that the Republicans really do want to not just cut Medicare, but essentially abolish it, you know, I just think those people are not going to be part of the Tea Party. They're going to be over with the Occupy Wall Street.

BILL MOYERS: Bruce Bartlett, thank you very much for sharing this time with us.


Bruce Bartlett on Where the Right Went Wrong

In this Moyers & Company segment, Bill Moyers talks with conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, who wrote “the bible” for the Reagan Revolution, worked on domestic policy for the Reagan White House, and served as a top treasury official under the first President Bush. Now he’s a heretic in the conservative circles where he once was a star.

Bartlett argues that right-wing tax policies — pushed in part by Grover Norquist and Tea Party activists — are destroying the country’s economic foundation. When he called George W. Bush out as “a pretend conservative” in his book Impostor: Why George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, Bartlett was fired from his position as a senior fellow at a conservative think tank. His new book is The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform — Why We Need It and What It Will Take.

  • submit to reddit
  • Hinmahtooyah

    Bruce Bartlett gives hope that there are still decent good hearted conservative minds out there.

  • Bonnie Smith

    Good work !

  • Jas

    The news is out…all over town…
    You working stiffs pay @35:disqus % in taxes.
    The money boys who work their money to make more money pay 15%.
    Loaded deck?

  • Seiberj

    One of the most interesting programs I’ve seen in a long time!

  • Anonymous

    The Bruce Bartlett interview was one of the most valid and confirming interviews yet. When people no longer care about facts and analysis and that their beliefs are more important than the facts themselves, says it all. The “Fox So Called News” echo chamber must be called out consistently for preaching, what Bill calls, a “mantra” of misinformation!

  • Anonymous

    It amazed and edified me to hear Bruce Bartlett articulate–with great precision and eloquence–what I have been grumbling about for decades: the economic and policy problems we face, as well as the political choices far too many Americans make, arise from unquestioned rationalizations based on belief alone, rather than an ongoing, honest balancing of cost and benefits and attention to what one actually sees–not what one wants to see.   I have the following quote from  Francis Bacon (1521-1626) over over my desk, as much as a caution to myself as anything else:  “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.” 
    I would add, “even if it destroys him and those around him.”  Indeed, it is a national psychological problem. Thank you Bruce Bartlett and Bill Moyers

  • Julogue1

    One way to describe the phenomenon that has become the “conservative movement” is to compare it to a posse where a crowd is inspired to put aside normal intelligence in a psychologically satisfying blood lust.  And, in fact, there appears to be rightest group which refers to itself as Posse Comitatus.  (Check it out.)  In western movies,when the sheriff was a good guy, he faced down the leader of the pack and the crowd came to it’s senses.  Trouble is that the this possee has been mesmerized by the repition of ridiculous lies and half-truths.  
    The leaders of this possee have fortunes to lose and spend.  They will not easily give up their hold on otherwise healthy minds.  The problem is how to cut through this religious, emotional hold on otherwise resonable people.   As Mr. Bartlett points out and what should be obvious is that this movement has the effect of religious ferver – based on blind faith in ideology and not reason. 
    Kudos to Mr. Bartlett and others who are speaking out.

    Once again, thank you Bill Moyers.

  • Liz

    I would love to have all of the factual data about taxes that this fellow is discussing.  I believe that we are communal creatures and that it is important for us to share wealth and to be responsible to each other.  However, I am often faced with angry people who are terribly misinformed and I do not have the exact numbers on me to present to them.  Why is this information so hard to get out and how do we get it out there?  Thank you Moyers for bringing the discussion to us.  It is important to bring to us smart conservatives that remind those of us who are not conservatives that not all conservatives are uninformed and uninterested in real information.

  • Lacy Bookeater

    Mr Bartlett is the same type of Republican I have been since I 1st voted…. we are both now RINOs…. and for me it is very gratifying to know that somebody out there remembers Reagan and the GOP as it really once was… not how the current Right has canonized it… nor as the Left has villified it. The truth was that it was neither. It was pragmatic, fiscally responsible, socially progressive, and religion had no place in politics.

  • Little Grey

    Is mindblowingly a word? It should be its  what happened to me after i listened to Mr. Bartlett tonight.  We may resist the facts if it flies in the face of our belief system.  So true.

  • Taichi-wuchi

    The big problem is monopoly economics that makes sure all of  the money goes to the top dropping people out of the economy in the process.
    It is similar to what the Nazis did with their concentration camps and crematoriums.
    Most of the early victims were living in ghettos and were under the radar as far as the rich and middle class where concerned.  It was not until the Nazis started rounding up middle class and rich Jews that people became concerned and by that time the Nazi machine was in place and there was nothing that anyone could do.
    The present tactic is even more cinical because people assume that they will not be affect, it will be someone else who loses their job or their social security.
    In the mean time jobs go off shore and Companies move to other cheap labor Nations.   Money goes into foreign banks and it is too late to reverse the trend. 
    There will not be enough money to support the population and the demand side of economics will fail.
    The result will be that the supply side of economics will also fail.  That will force people to take drastic measures and no one will be safe on the roads or in their house.  The gun nuts will have a field day.
    It is necessary that people start now getting assertive and demand change.  Otherwise, we will be come a poverty nation with a few very rich people not intentionally but because of faulty economic systems and wrong ideas.

  • sbuzz16

    Spot on quote by Bacon. 105 years is a long life back then.

  • davidp

    Why not send this message to Washington and fix the problem(s) before it goes deeper and deeper and becomes like Greece..if they are not there already.

  • Brux

    Argh, most of what George W. Bush said sounded silly, and was silly.  If the rational people in the GOP know this, how does it happen, who drives it through, really, who is responsible for this while Bush, and even Obama put on the distraction show for us?

  • Brux

    The moral problem – “it is wrong to have people with such extraordinary wealth that pass it down from one generation to another with people not having to work for a living being able to have control over government, clearly wealth and power are related.”

    We have a parasite class that has absolute power, no responsibility or answerability, understanding or empathy for the average American that is just going to get worse as they drift off into fantasyland while making everyone else pay for it.

  • Genkakukigen

    Listening to Bruce Bartlett’s quiet and careful assessments, it is hard to remember that there was a time when conservatism, like liberalism, could present cogent and well-enunciated arguments.

    Today’s raucous sincerities, as enunciated by Fox news and its adherents, make it difficult not to nod assent when hearing LaRochefoucauld’s maxim, “The intelligence of the mass is inversely proportionate to its number.”

    Thanks for a good interview.

  • Ramesh

    Very good point, Liz. I would urge Mr. Moyers to provide “unbiased”/”factual” data on the federal income tax, average state income tax, average sales tax, property tax etc. in a TABULAR format. Show it by “Income” ranges (starting at say 20,000/year,  and in increment of 25000). Show it over 30-40 years span.
    That will allow “fact based” conclusions. Right now, for those of us who “do care” about facts and analysis over faith don’t have this information handy. It will also allow us to challenge those who quote “convenient” statistic out of some opinionated person’s book or article.

  • Ramesh

    Mr. Moyers: Excellent program, please focus on this theme, not just thru’ this election but for a very long time.
    I’d request that you invite Mr. Mike Lofgren who was quoted by Mr. Bartlett. Ask about his theory and explanation of “starving the beast”.

    For a long time now, I have come to the same conclusion. Mr. Bartlett quoted one Federal agency, SEC, here. But you can see the same thing happening to IRS, FDA, and many more. 

    Why is there so much medicare/medicaid fraud (and nothing even close to it in private sector insurance)? Because there aren’t enough people/resources for those who have to investigate the medicare/medicaid claims. THEY may not even have sophisticated computer systems (unlike private insurance co’s) to tie various claims to follow abuse. Every now and then, they will find a pharmacy or a doctor or clinic and collect few millions of $, but the overall abuse is easily in $100+ billion. IF THOSE AGENCIES are given more money/resources/computer software/hardware upgrade funding, they will give us 10 to 1 return and catch (and more important) prevent such abuses.

    On the other hand, the govt contracts in defense dept to private companies, how much waste/fraud is there? Who investigates this? We hear some cases where a contractor got $500 for a toilet seat, but that’s just miniscule. How much money is wasted in procurement? How about Iraq/Afghanistan where I am certain that huge amounts of money was wasted in such contracts? Which govt agency can uncover this? If such agencies have more money/resources AND CAN CATCH them IN A TIMELY manner (not after 5-10 years), then other abuses can be exposed and/or prevented.

    You should invite one agency dept per program, ask them what can they do “effectively” if their budget was increased by 1% every year for next 5 years? What advanced computer systems and “people” can they hire to go after this? I AM CERTAIN THAT WE WILL GET OUR MONEY BACK (THRU’ HIGHER TAXES) VERY VERY EASILY.


  • Dave Wisconsin

    Great interview, and it is good to see some honesty from influential people.

    If there is a single fundamental cause of our current problems it is people in influential positions acting in fundamentally dishonest ways.  Regardless of what political divide we have among the voters now, it is to be expected in any system where we have exactly 2 sides to every problem and people in influential positions lie to force people back to their side.

    Psychology and sociology can explain why voters are reacting to the system the way they react, but it cannot help to eliminate the dishonesty at the top.  If we understand that this reinforcement of power at the top is a fundamental, repeating trend of all cultures, then we know how to prevent it from happening, and that is to prevent such an asymmetric reinforcement of power in the first place.  But if we feel the need to use psychology and sociology to understand our leadership, then we have chosen bad leadership.

    Once the kings are in place, they want to stay kings.  If people understood how the kings became kings, perhaps they wouldn’t support them, but it is too late for that.  The kings are already.

    If we were living in a time before the internet, there would be less hope in avoiding a repeat of tragic history.  But we have the ability to go outside the power channels for information these days, so I do retain hope that the masses will catch on before it is too late.

    This show is helping also.

    If influential people are being dishonest, the people with knowledge should beat them into shame with their weapons of knowledge and condemnation.  Is this an elitist view?  That we should recognize that some people do understand these problems and some do not, does this make a person elitist?

    We should want our leaders to be elite.  Choosing leaders who are not elite is a major reason we are where we are.

  • Anonymous

     Actually,  not 105 year! My bad typing: 1561 to 1626. But even 65 years was a remarkable age to attain back then and plenty of time to observe human nature.

  • Marcus Davis

    We have seen this phenomenon before. It gave us the French Revolution.

  • Anonymous

    It is difficult not to feel somewhat pessimistic about what seems a cultural obsession with feelings over facts.

    Particularly if you add that increasingly people consume whatever facts they stumble upon (pun intended), through self-selected channels on social networks. When every one is his or her own copy-editor, influenced by closest friends only,  “news” can become just another way of looking at ones own reflection, rather than a way of looking out on the world. 

    I guess all I can do is to “re-tweet” and “share” my admiration for the sane and sensible discussions on this service as widely as possible. And thank you for another singular programme.

  • Anonymous

    While I was a democrat and now an independent, I am in total agreement.  I remember the GOP as you do.   They were the other side of the coin that helped maintain a balance between fiscal and social policies.    I sigh for our country.

  • Arethusa

    Taichi-wuchi, you are spot on except for one thing. It is intentional. The very rich are getting exactly what they pay for.

  • ThinkerFeeler

    A bit crude,  but Grover Norquist explains how trickle down does work:

  • Voxfmm

    guillotine Grover?

  • Jesse L. stewart

    “Tax cuts don’t cost money; government programs do.”
    ~ Sheldon Richman
    “If “we are the
    government,” then anything a government does to an individual is
    not only just and untyrannical but also “voluntary” on the part
    of the individual concerned. If the government has incurred a huge
    public debt which must be paid by taxing one group for the benefit
    of another, this reality of burden is obscured by saying that “we
    owe it to ourselves”; if the government conscripts a man, or throws
    him into jail for dissident opinion, then he is “doing it to himself”
    and, therefore, nothing untoward has occurred.” [“The Anatomy of the State” by Murray N. Rothbard (Auburn: Mises Institute, 1974), pp. 55-88]
    Also see: The Myth of Neutral Taxation, Murray N. Rothbard; “The Cato Journal”, Fall, 1981, pp. 519-564

  • Ta52

    “Trickle down economics” only works when there is A LOT to “trickle down”!!…There actually needs to be SO MUCH that those at the top are “sated”, passing the excess down to the next “tier”, who are sated, and pass the excess, and so on, and so on!…It works well in theory, just as communism works well in thoery, …but, in fact, it DOESN’T work, because of greed!!…To quote another Republican President, George H.W.Bush, when running against Reagan in the primary, it is “voodoo economics”!!

  • Phillip Van Garrick

    I seem to recall quite a bit of controversy over the emergence of the “Religious Right” during  that time. 

  • Anonymous

    Wow!  A Reaganite who is actually willing to admit the truth and baldly state that taxes for the rich need to be raised, that Fox News is a propaganda shop, that Republicans are out to eliminate Medicare (and virtually all government programs except the Pentagon) and that their voter base is ignorant!

  • John Kelsch

    It’s good to here someone who is actually cognitive to what is actually going on with our economy! Congress has one hand on the lobbiest wallet and the other hand on their genitiles.

    From 1920-29 the Dow quadrupled, the cost of living tripled, plunging the economy into the great depression! From 1995-2007 the Dow nearly quadrupled, the cost of living tripled, plunging the economy into the great recession!

    The stock markets are mearly a vessel for the greedy to skim wealth from the economy and Congress facilitates this fleecing via investor incentives, tax breaks, tax loopholes, etc.!

  • mike


    I love it. Perfect and so straight and true.
    what can be done??

  • Rolland Carpenter

    Thanks for Bruce Bartlett.  I certainly agree with everything he said, but our “foreign aid” does cost us a lot more than 1% when you include expenses such as (for example) patrolling the Straits of Malacca to protect Singapore and  shipping there.  This is “foreign aid” as much as our cash and other “grants”.

    Also, there is no excuse for the failure of the Justice Dept to prosecute the Wall Street looters–even though the SEC has indeed suffered from the work of regulatory haters.

    Thanks for coming out of retirement, Bill.  America needs you more than ever.

  • Assoc. Prof Toby Deal

    I have now posted Moyer’s site as required for my Microeconomics classes.  One of the reasons for America’s ignorance about economics is the dribble that most of the right-wing economics authors write.  I have yet to find a balanced text that is accurate and realistic–what a shame and disgrace!

  • Tstarr

    God, I miss the days when I could listen to a conservative and in the discussion alter my own outlook!  Perhaps the day will come again.  Thanks Bruce!  And thanks Bill for your great program!

  • Piksnilderf

         For 30 years we’ve heard mantra “all taxes bad- especially on wealthy”. So what has been policy, especially during GOP administrations?-  BORROW and SPEND, of course. National debt tripled under Reagan and doubled under W.   If we just keep borrowing and making sure the wealthiest few are taken care of all will be peachy! And they were right- all is peachy – for the wealthy few.  If we ever get a surplus- can’t have that- let’s give it as tax breaks to the wealthy.
          But for those who have a grain of compassion in their spirit, America isn’t all about the wealthy – and that was not founders intentions.
           It’s not about soaking the rich, it’s about encouraging those who this country has done so much for to invest in America.
        And with GOP policy of “starving the beast”, by simplest of logic, it is impossible to PAY DOWN DEBT that 30+ years of absurd fiscal policy have created.

         Let’s not destroy the country just to protect the “greed is good” crowd from making sacrifices.
         That’s what was done just before Depression and it didn’t work out well.

  • Anonymous

    This interview provides crystal clear and truly vital insight into the issues of governance, taxation and the ideology that threatens American democracy itself. Moyers (and PBS) give powerful voice to true patriotism, and We The People must propagate it with great care and energy in hope  that we aren’t waking up too late. 

  • HHH

    So one of the creators of the trickle down theory is  wondering why the top block is just soaking it up. Seriously he didn’t see this outcome coming when he helped to put it in place? I find that hard to believe. It was being called the trickle on theory by people when they first promoted it. You mean to tell me the average citizens were financially smarter than the economic whiz kids? Regardless, these whiz kids created this out of control monster and no it isn’t a failure because of the tea party, it was and is a flawed idea from it’s inception. Nobody then and nobody now really believes the wealthy are going to willing let anything trickle down that isn’t pried from their fingers with a jack hammer.
    It is common knowledge and personal experience that the wealthier people are the tighter they are with their money, most are misers. But lets let them decide how much to let trickle down? Laugh.

  • David Patterson

    I liked the whole show; I always do.  Bill Moyers is like my own voice.  I don’t know anyone anywhere as elequent as he.  I am delighted he is back on PBS.

  • David Patterson

    See below

  • OldPoop

    By parasite class having control of our governemnt, are you talking about the 1% rich or the 51% that receives more from the government than it pays in?   You need to give more specifics as to which direction your bias leans, because I can’t tell from what you wrote.

    If you’re talking about the bankster/government hermaphroditic monster that has been robbing every American of his earinings since 1913 when the banksters were allowed to print their own money at will after setting up their own private Federal Reserve Bank, and increased their theft again through FDR confiscating and revaluing gold, and much much more when Nixon turned our dollar into worhtless colored paper in 1971, then I have to agree with you 100%.   Welcome to the fringe minority of Independents and Libertarians that actually understand what is really going on with our fiat currency and the purposeful debasement of the dollar in order to steal from you by the wealthy <1% and their corrupt government lackeys.

    If you're talking about the many millions that outnumber the producers and are firmly latched onto the golden government teet and will never let go, and will always vote for which ever Congressional crook that promises to make the milk flow even faster, at the expense of the working middle class, then I have to agree with you 100%.   Welcome to the fringe minority of Independents and Libertarians that understand the current system is doomed to failure and collapse, and probably sooner rather than later.

    Whichever way your bias leans, may I suggest you check out Ron Paul.   I know the media falls all over itself 24/7  to convince you he's fringe and unelectible.  Maybe he is.   But consider the alternatives.  The top two Republicans, Plastic Man and Obnoxious Man are at a minimum 99% certain to make America worse off.  The Democrats have the Chicago Crook, schooled and trained by the most corrupt polical machine in the U.S., who has already proven he will make America worse off, and just wait until he doesn't have to worry about reelection, you ain't seen nothing yet. 

    At least give it a thought.  Try to fight against the brainwashing.  The information is out there, but you have to seek it out.  It will take some effort because the ones in power are not going to willingly spoon feed it to you in the daily newscast.   Take advantage of your free access to the Internet while you still have it.

  • BP Cross

    Bruce Bartlett’s assessment, in terms of the causes and conclusions was spot on, however, it was also self-deluding or self-serving for his failure to admit that all of these ills began or were exacerbated by Ronald Reagan.  GWB didn’t ruin his legacy – he was the Reagan legacy.

    Perhaps most laughable was his failure to mention that it was the Reagan administration that fast-tracked Rupert Murdoch’s citizenship because a foreign national could not own a broadcasting company … they created this right wing echo chamber!

    I was disappointed that Bill did not call him out on this. Government bad … Reagan.
    Us versus them (liberals bad) …Reagan
    Huge deficits owing to tax cuts for wealthy/corporations … Reagan 
    No new taxes … Reagan
    Cuts to the social safety net … Reagan
    Fox News …Reagan.
    Rush Limbaugh talk radio echo chamber …Reagan
    GWB and the current slate of right wing nuts …Reagan’s legacy

  • Lorraine Devon Wilke

    Beyond the wisdom of the speaker, the host and the cogent presentation of the topic discussed, I am stunned by the civility and smarts of comments that follow this piece. I’ve become so accustomed  to reading meaty, thought-provoking articles only to be assaulted by the idiotic, hateful, spittle-flying comments left in response by readers who appear to lack any sense of manners, decorum or even intelligence. THIS thread? Comments as thoughtful and considered as the piece…how utterly refreshing. Humanity has been redeemed! :)

    As one who writes often on the inexplicable polarity and lack of empathy in this country, it is both disheartening and validating to hear from a GOP vet who came from a different era and views the myopia, greed and selfishness of the current cabal as not only counterproductive, but ultimately destructive. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how supposedly good, God-fearing, family-values Republicans can so widely accept the narrow and protectionist mantra of “us against them,” or “wealth against freeloading” (as if anyone not wealthy is also not worthy!); circling their wagons so tightly around themselves that no sense of compassion or even perspective is possible. 

    It seems unlikely that the GOP as it exists today will ever evolve into anything remotely resembling the party of old; we can only hope that veterans such as Bartlett educate the more openminded of the bunch to splinter off into something less intolerant and self-serving.    

  • Ccarnein

    Wait a minute–the “Reagan revolution” is a big part of the problem.  I’m pretty tired of hearing this stuff people who ignore what went on during the Reagan years.

  • cipher

    Everything this man is saying is spot-on.  The Tea Partiers don’t know much about taxation (or anything else), it’s a form of religious belief, people don’t know and don’t care that they don’t know… . This a nation of morons.

    Unfortunately, I see no way to fix it; America’s too badly broken. We simply aren’t going to come back from this – and as we continue to go down, we’ll be taking the rest of the world down with us.

  • cipher

    All true, but it’s so refreshing to find a Conservative who isn’t afraid to do more than merely parrot the party line that I’m willing to overlook it.

  • OldPoop

    Piksnilderf, we cannot pay down the debt.  It would destroy the f’d up monetary system we employ that is based on debt and not value like our old gold standard.   If you want to understand why the debt is necessary read chapter 10 of The Creature From Jekyll Island (a book on the Fed), excerpted here:

    I promise I am not singling you out, but I just couldn’t stand any more of the simple mineded platitudes and had to stop reading these posts and say something.  
    I stumbled onto this from trying to find out how to order the book for my 85 year old mother.   She called me after watching the show.

    You guys are as thoroughly brainwashed, if not worse, than the Right.   Fox biased, Republicans stupid and evil, blah blah blah.   Replace Fox with Main Stream Media and replace Republicans with Democrats and you have the same crap that is being spouted on Far Right sites.

    I am in no way saying that Fox is not biased, but I know from first hand exeprience from watching the news for many years (I’m 63) that it is the least biased of all the newscasts. (Newscasts, not opinion programs.)   It is so easy to spot the pathetic mind-numbed robots that dutifully repeat the talking points passed down to them from their masters.   Right or Left, everything is black and white, we’re good, they’re bad.   You can spot the people that have never watched Fox News when they only complain about the bias on Fox and don’t mention any of the other networks, including PBS.  (OMG not PBS you nutjob.  The government handouts have no affect on their opinions.  They are above bias.)  Keep drinking the koolaid.

    There is no real difference between the two parties on the things that really matter, like our rights, our freedoms, keeping the banksters and government from stealing what we earn, and the survivability of the dollar and the U.S.   Bush Jr and Obama (Bush Jr x2 or maybe x3) have grown government big enough and have stollen enough of our freedoms.   The two parties each have their own shtick, like abortion for Dems and the promise of lower taxes for for the Reps in order to divide and divert attention from what they are really doing.   Don’t believe me?  Look at what our Masters, I mean our Public Servants, have been up to recently:

    I’m sure all of you understand why the Evil Republicans don’t care about how much money the Wall Street banksters steal from us through their private money making machine, the Federal Reserve, by secretly creating money out of thin air for themselves and by debasing our currency to steal from the pocket of every American.   But what is your excuse for the Democrats not caring?    Are they too stupid to understand what is going on, or are they in on the scam with the Republicans?

    Just one very small example: 
    Google the surprise audit last year that discovered that between 2007 and 2010 the banksters (Fed) had secretly created $16 trillion off the books and gave it to themselves and their bankster buddies around the world.   Guess what?  Another $10 trillion has been found since then.  This was in the media for a day, then they shut up about it.  Now you have to search the Internet to find it.   Why does no one see a problem with this?   Whose side are the Reps, Dems, and Media on?  Hint: It’s not yours.

    Inflation, debasement of the dollar, and the daily theft of your earnings are accepted as normal today due to years of brainwashing.  It is NOT NORMAL!  We had 2% inflation the 100 years before the Fed, and 4000% since then.  Look it up.  Stop parroting what your masters tell you and put out some effort to learn what is really going on.  You will not be spoon fed the truth, you have to care enough to search for it.

    Sorry, I will not be returning for the mandatory name calling responses.  Life is much too short to waste doing that, and I prefer trying to live in the real world, not the fantasy world created by the <1% that are running things, even though it can get depressing when you see what's really going on.

  • Cmorgan08108

    Unfortunately this post is another example of beliefs and dogma overcoming intelligence and facts. Never let real facts get in the way of a good story.  The poster puts Chicken Little to shame.

  • Patriokat

    Sadly missing from this discussion is the fact that taking all the money from all the rich will not pay the budget but for a year maybe two. 

    Therefore, when the door is opened to tax the rich more for even more programs as in the case of Pres. Obama’s up in spending, a deceit is going on.  It is the average workers in America that will pay the bill.  That is why the government should not be trying to do for people what they should do for themselves as that forces a family to provide for others before their family is provided for, as in most cases taxes are removed before the takehome pay gets to provide for the family. 

     But government & taxes do have a place such as doing things that benefit all(directly) that people cannot do for themselves, such as make highways, fix potholes, maintain a military, etc.

  • Anonymous

    Once again I am moved by an array of reasonable information and a platfrom from which to present it.  Thanks Bill Moyers for the platform and Bruce Bartlett for the information.

  • Burtwiggins

    I thank God there are people like Bruce Bartlett who put the countries future ahead of partisan politics and for Bill Moyers for having them on his program so the people can learn the facts.


  • Lweisberg1

    Mr Moyers. We are so glad you’re back. Your voice is essential today. You inspire.
    The one tax Mr Bartett didn’t discuss is property. That’s the one that is sticker shock every year. In our conservative community, the blame s placed on Obama or Pelosi. The stupidity of the average citizen is mind-boggling!

  • Anonymous

    Bill Moyers is a fat rich menace who has never been off the public nipple. Taxes? Why of course.

  • PattiUxbridgeTavern

    I thoroughly appreciated Bill Moyer’s interview with Mr. Bartlett. It makes me nostalgic for a time when intelligent discourse between policy makers kept the governmental ship on a reasonable course. The president, house and senate must steer clear of prevailing, gale force winds coming from all too influential lobbyists and misinformed pundits.

    The title of this video is unfortunate however. I would like to bring this compelling discussion to the attention of my politically diverse friends, but find the title – Bruce Barlett on Where the Right Went Wrong– to be divisive and contrary to Mr. Bartlett’s message.

    Thank you though for an excellent interview and program. I’m writing a check to my local PBS station (WTTW) today.

  • Blingald

    Bartlett’s assessment on the right-wing’s look at tax policies was a real “eye opener” for me–it made a lot of sense.  I cannot believe that people can even believe in the right-wing policies that are so ridculous and undermining to the people of America.

  • Capt. Charles G Willard

    On taxes…….Everything on taxes in this country is backward.
    For the $100 we send to IRS…we get back a pennies worth of services based on how effective our representatives are who lobby for that money. Yet t he bulk of services from our various levels of local governments cost pennies in proportion.  Why don’t we  pay our local tax bill with that $100, and send the pennies to the IRS’ and cut out the handling charges of the Federal Government.  This alone would reducethe need for the biggest business in this country ..The Federal Government.
    According to  my granddaughters civics textbook.
    The only 2 reasons for any Federal Government:
    1. To proect us from an invasion of other countries.
       (Reason for protective forces}
    2. To protect our citizens from each other.
       (Reason for laws, courts and a jusice sysem)
    Amen !
    for what it’s worth.. 
    Charles G. Willard


  • Anonymous

    Mr. Bartlett commits the same sin he accuses others of, (4:49) “The vast bulk of federal spending goes to Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, interest on the debt.” Wrong.  The vast majority of our spending goes to warmongering, and then the interest on the money borrowed to support war making.  I’m disappointed Mr. Moyers didn’t call him on this.

  • Piksnilderf

    Bill interviews fFASR too many people who are interested in facts.
    PLEASE Bill, less facts , more mantras, like:

    “all taxes bad”, “less revenue equals more revenue”, “deficits don’t matter”, “the more wealth that accrues at the top, the better off we’ll all be”.

    Please Bill more distortion- less facts:
     that’s what America needs.

  • Piksnilderf

     At one time the tax rate of highest earners in this country was 95% under that comi socialist Dwight Eisenhower. The economy prospered. Unemployment was low. Debt and deficit low. And infrastructure projects, with which you seem concerned, abounded.
    AND the wealthy were still wealthy.

       The purpose of these rates was not to “take all the money from the rich”, but to encourage the wealthy to reinvest in the country that did so much for them.
       I’m not advocating a 95% rate, but we just underwent a 30+ year experiment in which majority of nation’s resources have been transferred to those at the top which was supposed to “trickle down”. The results are in. You apparently like these results-
     I don’t.

  • Piksnilderf

     Too criticize Reagan’s policies is to criticize GOP’s God and “raison d’etre”-
    Be careful.

  • Drewjkelly

     Greenspan’s contention was that corps should regulate themselves, let “free market” sort itself out and all will be well.

    Just like GOP administrations believe industry should be able to set and monitor their own pollution standards.


  • Piksnilderf

     American public seems to wake up very slowly.
    And America’s major media outlets are perhaps most to blame. But then again they are not likely to “bite hand that feeds” (corporate sponsorship)- they are much more likely to create further misunderstanding. Controversy is great for ratings. Facts can ultimately be boring.

  • Piksnilderf

     What specific facts concerning taxes are you referring to/lacking?

    It would seem to me that at a blog site like this, if there is a FACT you are lacking someone will help point you in the right direction.
    Facts are facts. Opinions, opinions.
    One would hope people’s opinions were grounded by facts.

    Ask a question Liz-
    I will be greatly surprised if someone doesn’t come to your aid.

  • Piksnilderf

     Above word in first sentence was supposed to be FAR- my apologies

  • Tar Nella

    As a concerned Canadian I continued to be amazed at events unfolding in the home of our loved neighbor. No taxes, no government, no conversation, no compromise, no vision, no compassion, no future.

  • Shadlu62

    My thoughts exactly!

  • Shadlu62

    While that sounds like a great idea, it would be impossible to do with state taxes, having 50 different rates, and property taxes that change every year! I do think, however, that most people who are protesting about their taxes are confused as to what is federal vs. state, in addition to not even realizing that their federal taxes are the lowest in 50 years!

  • Glib4

    The cumulative tax rate for the top bracket is 51%. Equating the total tax revenue to th GNP may make sense to a bureaucrat, but to those of us paying for it, it’ s deceiving. I guess if Governing is your business then 91% of GNP might be a good goal. If the major news networks were not so blatantly biased and unabashedly promoting an obvious agenda Fox News would go away

  • Piksnilderf

     That’s quite the rant there.
    You’re first sentence was,
    “we cannot pay down debt”.
    Sort of thought that that is exactly what Clinton administration did. Been there, done that.
    Then “conservatives” took over and debt exploded.

    Sorry, I disagree with your contention that Fox “news” is the most “fair and balanced” source out there.
    Fox is run by Roger Ailes a political strategist in numerous GOP campaigns before coming to Fox. And that is what he is now- a political strategist. Fox “news” is propagandist arm of GOP owned by Rupert Murdoch. The exact same CEO and board of directors also owns Wall Street Journal, which is also used as a political tool.
    I’m not saying that on a good day there may be a decent interview on Fox or worthwhile article in WSJ (especially to investors), but their mission statement is pretty clear.

    Look this stuff up please- don’t take my word.

    “There is no real difference between the two parties on the things that really matter”
    I remember that statement being made right before 2000 election. Then W was elected and it became abundantly clear the huge chasm as W divided our nation and  then much of the world against our policies.

    In your “GGW” reference does it surprise you that Republican congressman’s net worth increases more than doubled that of Democrats? Why do you think that is?

    I daresay there are a lot of folks concerned about the role of $ in politics, especially the role of corporate lobbyists. Suspect there are more Dems than GOP members with this concern.

    I read most of the long article you referenced concerning Fed, debt, et al.:

    “if everyone paid back all that was borrowed, there would be no money left in existence. “- It would seem if it was paid back it would be in a bank vault, unless they decided to burn it all behind the building.

    Mariner Eccles, quoted in the article, was largely responsible for helping Roosevelt sort out the legislation that steered America out of the Depression and into prosperity again. Unfortunately his policies would be (are) viewed with disdain by GOP today.

    Your points and allegations are too many to debate in one response. Some of them have some merit. Some deserve further study- I would like to believe my mind is not closed.
    If you are of the belief that Fox “News” is “The least biased of all the newscasts”, I have sincere doubts about your own level of “openmindedness” to new info and ability to discern fact from fiction.

  • Shadlu62

    Really?? Fox News is the LEAST-biased?? Then why did they finally admit that their “news” show isn’t really news, but an opinion based forum…that they only broadcast 30 minutes of “real news”(fact-based) each day??!! 

  • applepie

    Certainly wish this program had originated three years ago when this whole economic debacle hit the fan.  Americans need to know the true facts, not the political claptrap being dished out by congressional  hacks and their lobbyists. 

  • David Thometz

    Capt. Charles G Willard:

    Well, grandfather’s civics textbook or not, and in opposition to the claims of Republicans these days, according to the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. federal government isn’t so limited. It was ordained and established in order to:
    • form a more perfect union

    • establish justice

    • ensure domestic tranquility

    • provide for the common defense

    • promote the general welfare, and

    • secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

    I’m so tired of Republicans asserting that federal government has no place in promoting the general welfare, when it is spelled out so clearly otherwise in the Constitution itself.

    Your “one penny for every $100″ argument is bunk as well.

  • Piksnilderf

       Without an informed electorate there is no Democracy. Unfortunately Americas news sources are woefully deficient.

    Example: How else could majority of Americans for more than 30 years be
    lead to believe and repeat the mantra, “Feed the rich and all will be
    well” and “less revenue is more revenue”.

    And America news rarely admit their mistakes:

    “Oh yeah, remember all that stuff we told you leading up to Iraq War- all of it was bull____”

    Then large newspapers wonder why their readership has dropped.

    Americans apparently believe what they wish to believe and if they want
    to reinforce their beliefs, all they need do is cherry-pick their

  • Spry Grandma

    Great program.  Good to hear a Republican talk like the GOP was.  I was a Republican, but now am a left leaning independent.  I am willing to pay more taxes if the top 1% pay their fair share.  Mr. Bartlett expressed my sentiments exactly.

  • SaneJane

    Not sure about your reference to a parasite class.  To me the “parasite class” consists of the extraordinarily wealth who can buy our government while making us pay for it.  Unfortunately, to some, the “parasite class” consists of those who must rely on social programs and are too poor to pay taxes. 

  • geo3DM

    Bartlett tells it how it is.
    As to prior comments about the purpose of government, please re-read these familiar words:
    We the People of
    the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish
    Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,
    promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to
    ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution
    for the United States of America.

  • SaneJane

    I agree.  Just this week I saw an article entitled “Biggest Holders of US Government Debt”.  Number one was “Federal Reserve and Intragovernmental Holdings”  $6.328 Trillion.  Further research into this number revealed that the Federal Reserve holds $1.650 Trillion while the remaining $4.678 Trillion is money owed to the Social Security Trust Fund and the Medicare Trust Fund.  How can these programs be in trouble if they had $4.678 Trillion in their Trust Funds to be loaned to the government?  Almost one third of our national debt is money owed to Social Security and Medicare and yet there is a determined effort to gut these programs in order to reduce the deficit.   This is insanity.

  • SaneJane

    Like you, I get disheartened and disgusted by the anger and lack of understanding encountered on other sites.  I hunger for meaningful discussion with informed, intelligent people and am delighted to find it here.  I live in the south and almost all my friends, and some family members, subscribe to the FOX- Limbaugh-Beck-Hannity-O’Reilly view.  I often feel isolated and am indeed thankful for this outlet.

  • Cbombix

    objective and factual thinker/analyst

  • Laslo196869

    Amen, “Ye who pays the piper calls the tune”, off with intelligence and reason of the masses……

  • Laslo196869

    That’s exactly what they are banking on (no pun intended),  that we will sucumb to the overwhelming sense of futiliy in any efforts to change the system which has made them richer and more powerful than ever. I see this all around me, spiritless, mind numbed, lost people just trying to stay alive from day to day.

  • Lonely Moderate

    Barlett is so partisan it is laughable.  I am not saying that Republicans aren’t extreme but he doesn’t mention that the Democrats have also gone against their own moderate members .  He calls himself an economist when he ignores most of what is taught in all economics classes across our country called the Laffer curve.  I am astounded how he insults anyone of any Faith implying  that they are all basically stupid people who demand no facts.   Bill I am disappointed that you wouldn’t call him out on that.   Sounds like you are doing the exact thing the psychologists say, only discussing one side that backs up your own theories.  I guess there is no more moderation left in this country.  

  • Guest212

    Reagan’s policy of breaking unions and deregulation is what collapse the Savings and Loans and led to the economic crash of the 1990’s.  Clinton then added to this debacle by repealing Glass-Steagle and enacting NAFTA.

  • Debragoran

    I fear that you are preaching to the choir, because those that need to hear these truths will never watch anything but right-wing television.  I wish there was an enforceable law against intentionally lying to the public to manipulate votes.

  • Illustrator5

    I watched this and thought holy crap this is what we should ALL be talking about!  The total overtake of government by loonies!

  • Laslo196869

    This is another sign the we need to get the Justice system to release their stock holdings and investments in any company, by any Judge: state, superior, and especiallly the SUPREME court.
    Case in point; southern Superior Justice rules in favor of BP et al, against those victims of the oil spill. Within weeks news made public that the Judge Owned stocks that should have made any other judge requese them selves from the case due to conflict of interest!
    This needs to be considered in every case in any court, especially our highest court.

  • Piksnilderf

    The Fairness Doctrine, introduced in 1949,  required the holders of broadcast licenses
    to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so
    in a manner that was, in the Commission’s view, honest, equitable and
    balanced. The FCC, after some heated congressional debate,  decided to eliminate the Doctrine in 1987.
       I  think the results could have been predicted.
    We have gone from a society where both sides of issues are presented to one where everyone just “tunes in” their own views and “tunes out” the rest.

  • Voxfmm

    Americans need to wake up to the fact that all those tax cut dollars, that went mostly to the Rich, were not Free.  It was all borrowed money.  And now the Republicans are finally revealing that they intend to have the 99% pay for it by gutting our government insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare.

  • Fredlinskip

     In an albeit brief search concerning laffer curve, the “empirical data” does not seem to represent anything like a curve.
    But perhaps there’s something to it. Once taxation  of highest earners reaches 80, 90% perhaps the revenue returns begin to decline.

  • Timblair

    the right wing will be gone very soon. humans will come together. within the next few months. when the UFO’s land and get it all fixed up for us. when it happens, remember where you read this…

  • Swiss Frank

    I consider myself a centrist, not “right”.  More specifically I’m in favor of many of the left-wing goals (eg massive social net, progressive taxation) albeit with right-wing-style mechanisms (small govt).  That said I thought I’d watch the video.
    I’m kind of saddened to see that neither the host nor the interviewee seems motivated to tell Americans where they really stand.  Just the first four minutes (I couldn’t take time to watch more) gave me enough material to fill a 3-hour lecture with corrections, but I’ll limit a rebuttal to a single 6-syllable sentence of the host’s.
    Comparing tax rates of “the rich” between 1986 and 2008, the video says the reduction in rates increased the deficit $1.7 trillion.  I don’t have space to rebut that calculation, so lets accept it for a minute as true.
    “Thats a lot of money,” says Bill, in toddler-like amazement!  Numbers like this are hard to understand for real Americans.  Lets put it in terms you and I can relate to.  It’s debt.  We pay interest on debts.  How much interest are we actually paying for this $1.7T debt?  (Following figures all sourced from Wiki.)
    $1.7T, divided by US population 310M, is about $6k debt per person.  US 5 year bonds (representitive of the agverage duration of US debt) currently pay about 1% interest.  1% of $6000 is $60.  So this $1.7 trillion figure, **if true**, should be really thought of as about a $60/year interest bill for someone paying their share of the US federal budget.
    Now, who is paying their share of the US federal budget?
    This budget is $3,456B, or $11k per American.  So if you’re paying $11k fed tax per member of your household, then you’re paying your full whack of this $60/year.  Examples: family of three paying 33k fed tax is paying their full $60 apiece.  If they’re paying 66k fed tax, they’re paying twice their share.  If they’re paying 17k fed tax, they’re really paying only $30/year each towards this debt.
    In fact I think most Americans are paying less than $11k/household member of tax, so they’re paying less than their share of the $60/year interest.  Is this really what’s “destroying the country?”  Do you agree with Bill that this $60/year, that you’re probably not close to even paying your share of, is really “a lot of money?”  Or is it more like what you spent last time you took the in-laws to Applebees?
    Bartlett wants to sell books, fair enough.  I wish he had confidence in his message selling the book without alarmist and false titles about America being bankrupted.  Moyers could tell Americans where they really stand–which is not good.  But its not scary enough to give the same kind of viewership he has by being alarmist.

  • Swiss Frank

    > the top statutory rate … is 35 percent. And all the pressure is on to lower that even further.

    I have to call BS here.  There are not enough calls to lower the top rate to amount to “pressure.”

    This is the classic “straw man argument.”  Ascribe a false but alarming viewpoint to your opposition then point out how ridiculous it is.  Its a great way to make points as long as you’re willing to lie to do it.

  • Karen Sielaff

    Thank you for another great program.  It was refreshing to hear a Republican talk about the economic/social situation in our country in the way Mr. Bartlett did.  He has a moral compass that is registering.  While I am on the whole discouraged about our government, the fact that he is speaking out gives me hope.  
    Your program is the best hour of the week.

  • Guest 25

     Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

  • Brux

    The Laffer curve is hardly scientific, thanks for  making the point that it was a general idea and that no one really knows at what point revenue are going up or going down relative to taxation like some kind of equation to find the max/min.  I agree, we can probably increase taxation progressively and increate the numbers of brackets at the top … stop treating business owners, doctors and dentists like multi-billionaires and gain revenue to fix the country again.

  • Richard Mercer

    I liked both of todays guests. Both made a lot of sense.

     It was so refreshing to hear a real conservative, Bruce Bartlett, who is not bat sh..t crazy.

    And to think he was the architect of Reaganomics. I think like religion so often does, the original idea got distorted and became unrealistic dogma.

  • Anonymous

    The GOP wants to (supposedly) close loopholes and then give away all the revenue in the form of tax breaks for the wealthy — thereby doing NOTHING about the deficit and debt.

    The Democrats want to close loopholes and then use the revenue to decrease the deficit and pay off the debt.

    Note that what the GOP wants to do was already prototyped in Ryan’s pseudo-budget.  In Ryan’s case, he was out to destroy Medicare and as many of the programs that benefit the middle class as possible in order to “reduce government spending”.  But to what purpose?  NOT to reduce the deficit or debt.  The CBO pointed that out.  Ryan’s pseudo-budget turned around and gave away all the revenue from those savings as tax breaks to the wealthy.

    Also, because of Norquist, no fiscally responsible person can ever support any kind of tax cut — particularly for the wealthy.  The reason is simple.  Norquist’s fiscal irresponsibility shared by much of the GOP locks-in those tax cuts whether they can be sustained or not.  Norquist’s fiscal irresponsibility clearly states that taxes must never be raised regardless of how fiscally irresponsible the position is at any time.

    So long as there are adherants to Norquist’s fiscal irresponsibility, the only fiscally responsible thing anyone can do is to never cut taxes.  The risk of doing so makes it too much of a fiscally irresponsible act.

  • Piksnilderf

        Without an informed electorate there is no Democracy. Unfortunately Americas news sources are woefully deficient.
    Example: How else could majority of Americans for more than 30 years be lead to believe and repeat the mantra, “Feed the rich and all will be
    well” and “less revenue is more revenue”.

    And America news rarely admit their mistakes:
    “Oh yeah, remember all that stuff we told you leading up to Iraq War- all of it was bull____”
    Then large newspapers wonder why their readership has dropped.

       Americans apparently believe what they wish to believe and if they want to reinforce their beliefs, all they need do is cherry-pick their sources.

  • Dave Huntsman

    Former Reagan budget official and literal author of “Reaganomics”, argues that right-wing tax policies — pushed in part by Grover Norquist and Tea Party activists — are destroying the country’s economic foundation. 

  • Anonymous

    Actually… now that I’ve thought about it… I want to hear more Democrats say “I’d really love to support cutting taxes, but unfortunately in the age of Norquist it is far too fiscally irresponsible to do so.”

  • Jim Fitzgerald

    I use to be a demo, then an independent and now I just shake my head. We don’t need occupy or the tea party. The problem is the real answers won’t make anyone happy. We live in tough times and the hole we are in won’t get better without taxing those that can most afford it at a equitable rate while restructuring social security (I speak as someone who is 61) but we have a congress that almost defaulted on our debt and both sides resist even having a serious conversation with the other . I say things only change when we the people take back our government and congress only gets re-election votes from the 13% that think they are doing a good job. If we sent these career parasites  packing we would not need campaign finance reform because all the money in the world  for negative campaigning would be useless. In the words of Ronald Reagan when you go into the voting booth you need only ask yourself one question “an I better off than I was four years ago”. If the answer is no then you got to go.
    Jim Fitzgerald
    Martinez CA

  • Jaylenard

    Yes, there are some thoughtful, cogent comments  which seem to be getting more of a hearing. But it’s not the problems we need to be reminded of constantly. It’s solutions we need. We need to drastically change the way we elect our legislators. Money: politics? The problem? Fine lets get rid of the money.  I will never accept that it can’t be done. I will never accept that an equitable system for free air time cannot be found. All broadcast media is licensed by us and there are conditions which must be met to qualify.We must add free air time to those conditions. This requirement along with drastic shortening of campaigns will go far to achieve independence for our legislators…which they should welcome
    if it’s the people they want to serve.
    Of course there are other expenses in running a campaign but those should be borne by we taxpayers.  It will be the best bang for our buck in a lifetime. We need to liberate our legislators. The mantra for our time should be, “IT’S THE LOBBYISTS, STUPID!”

  • George Picken

    As a fellow Canadian I am saddened that our Prime Minister is following in Bush Jr’s footsteps.  The inequality gap caused by big tax decreased for the Corporate elite is growing even faster than our neighbour’s to the south.

  • Piksnilderf

     I think the seriousness  the  of the ’08 economic crash is under-appreciated by some. I don’t think anyone could have  turned it around in 4 years.
    IMO Obama has done a commendable job, especially when  in a time you might think parties might band together for the sake of American people, GOP has done everything imaginable to sabotage the process.

  • Piksnilderf

     Have you listened to GOP prez dabates?
    There have been many allusions to bringing it down the tax rate. Romney would immediately lower the corporate tax rate to 25%-
     which is the rate America adopted just before Great Depression occurred.

  • Peacepointer

    Thank you for having Bill Bartlett on your show.  I appreciated his candidness about the role religion plays in the Republican party’s world view.  I have long wondered if the fundamentalist concept of “being God fearing” is now being projected metaphorically onto “big government” as so large and powerful that it is to be feared.  The mantra of “no taxes” even in service of the greater good also sounds a lot like the price that all “guilty sinners” as the needy and the poor need to pay for being cast out of the garden of eden and damned to suffer for their sins.  If the 1 % think they are rich while others suffer they are poor indeed.  Let us hope that a global inner awakening awareness continues to quietly and peacefully reveal a loving God’s shared vision of heaven on earth as an end to pain and suffering or everyone.  

  • TomPaine

    In his early comments, Bartlett says that gov’t spending has changed in character, and that now most of it goes to Soc. Sec., Medicare, and (in a grudging voice) interest on the debt, and Mr. Moyers let him get away w/ that.  Was this “pundit” asleep from Sept. ’07 through 2009 when $13 trillion was given to the megabanks??  And is he ignorant of the reality that Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself so far so it has cost the gov’t zero??  I turned off the TV when that went past unchallenged.  Why should I listen to such a fairytale spinner claiming to be an analyst of economic reality?

  • Piksnilderf

    Trying to see if Bill & co will give me  post name back

  • Piksnilderf

    My apologies- trying to see if Bill & co will grant me my name back

  • Piksnilderf

     I guess not.  One more try at retrieving my proper name. Over.

  • TomPaine

    Why was my comment about Bartlett’s erroneous comments on the economy censored and removed from the blog?

  • TomPaine

    What I said was that this self-professed economic analyst said that recently the character of  gov’t spending has changed & that now most of the spending is for Soc. Sec. & Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on debt.  I asked whether he was asleep from 9/07 through 2009 when the gov’t gave out $13 trillion to the megabanks, and didn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  And that I was surprised such disinformation went unchallenged.  None of my remarks could be characterized as “Profanity, personal attacks, hate speech, off-topic posts, advertisements or spam”.

    Is anything questioning the infallibility of the guest or Mr. Moyers subject to censoring here?

  • TomPaine

    Or is it only OK after midnight when there is no one to read it?  And when the show is done for the week and there is no longer interest in the segment?

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt.  Where was he from 9/07 through 2009 when $13 trillion were given to the banks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged?

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt.  Where was he from 9/07 through 2009 when $13 trillion were given to the banks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged?

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt.  Where was he from 9/07 through 2009 when $13 trillion were given to the banks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged?

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt.  Where was he from 9/07 through 2009 when $13 trillion were given to the banks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged?

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt.  Where was he from 9/07 through 2009 when $13 trillion were given to the banks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged?

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt.  Where was he from 9/07 through 2009 when $13 trillion were given to the banks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged?

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt.  Where was he from 9/07 through 2009 when $13 trillion were given to the banks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged?

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt.  Where was he from 9/07 through 2009 when $13 trillion were given to the banks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged?

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt.  Where was he from 9/07 through 2009 when $13 trillion were given to the banks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged?

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt.  Where was he from 9/07 through 2009 when $13 trillion were given to the banks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged?

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt.  Where was he from 9/07 through 2009 when $13 trillion were given to the banks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged?

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt.  Where was he from 9/07 through 2009 when $13 trillion were given to the banks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero?  I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged?

  • StephenC

    Burt,  the only problem is, he’s preaching to the choir. The people who need to hear this the most will never ever tune in. They’ll be listening to Rush Limbaugh, and hugging their chains.

  • StephenC

    I saw the show after tuning in late, and had no idea what Mr. Bartlett’s background is. I consider Reagan to be the economic anti-christ, the prince of economic darkness, the seed from which all out economic troubles have sprung. I will be reading Mr. Bartlett’s books to see if he can convince me otherwise, because everything he said on the show made sense to me.

  • StephenC

    Exactly.  Kind of like Robert McNamara back-pedaling on his war-mongering policies, after causing so much futile suffering in the world. A day late and a dollar short.

  • StephenC

     Thank you for pointing that out.

  • TomPaine

    I have sent Mr. Moyers a copy of the comment you’ve removed from this blog, and questioned why it is “inappropriate”.  Have a nice day.

  • DennisNYC

    What a long drawn out pile of bull.

  • StephenC

     Well, isn’t that the trick? If you want to get away with theft, steal a little bit each from a very large number of people, rather than try to steal a whole lot of money from a very few people.
    I don’t think anyone is saying the interest on the debt is what is bankrupting the country, but that the debt which generates that interest would help to prevent our being bankrupted, had it not been blown on useless war-mongering and fattening the bank accounts of the 1%, but rather on constructive projects, research, and education.
    Aside from all the prattle about the $30 interest per year per person, the bottom line is $6k per person was effectively yanked out of the pockets of the average taxpayor, and put in the pockets of the wealthy. Yeah, I’d like my $6k back, thank you very much.

  • StephenC

     Sorry, $60 per person per year is the number stated.

  • StephenC

     Exactly, and the fact that finding that magic point has never been done is a slippery slope indeed.
    Additionally, the Laffer curve is presented in economics classes as a footnote or aberration, not real economics.
    And one other problem Laffer never thought about: There are many other reasons why people work and create, that have nothing to do with how much they will be taxed. It isn’t all about money.

  • StephenC

     Maybe we need some heated debate to bring the doctrine back again. If it was undone by men, it can be redone by men as well.

  • lisa

    I laughed out loud when Bartlett said we needed psychologists more than economists. So true, as was his belief  that Fox News and talk radio has created a disinformation bubble.  I am  amazed at how much harm a few profiteers of fear and prejudice can do.

    I love that you are back on the air Mr Moyers. You are a breathe of fresh air.

  • lisa

     Dear Tom. This is comments page. Your repetitive posts are a great example of Mr Bartlett’s belief that  many right wingers needing a psychologist. Be well.

  • TomPaine

    Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt. Where was he from 9/07 through 2009… when $13 trillion were given to the megabanks, isn’t a lot of money spent on war & the military, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero? I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged.

  • Joannefilm

    Thank you for this great show. I have been searching for explanations for the extraordinary behavior of the Right for some time. It is not that I am a conservative and have never been. But I do want to understand how people – and intelligent people – can actually be fooled by the extent of the lying. 

    Particularly helpful to me was your explanation of the misguided concept that the more government the less freedom for the individual. These concepts help me understand that people voting Republican are simply misguided and not plain mean.

    I don’t know how to reverse the magnitude of the misinformation – although I have been seen jumping up and down and clapping with enthusiasm each time another arrest or firing of a s0-called-journalist or a rogue-police officer in England (my birthplace) is announced over the horrifying events conducted by the Rupert Murdoch Empire. We all knew about it and have watched the mess on tv and movies for years as though nothing could be done about it. But, you see, something has been done. And is continuing to be done. That so-called-man has been called a villain to his face. He even had pie thrown on him.

    If it can happen there; it can happen here. One day we will all be shouting: “The Emperor has no clothes! The Emperor has no clothes!”

  • piksnilderf

       Any suggestions about how more Americans might become more  exposed to fact-based analysis of issues, instead of deliberate distortions or myth-based opinions?
          Surely you’re not suggesting Moyers & Co  should quit trying.

  • Anonymous

    I am with some of the others who have commented. Please educate us as to where we can find factual information that will help us determine where our votes and efforts should be focused

  • Mugabe in Chief

    “les americains….sont de grands enfants.”    Toqueville.

  • AnneLBS

    Hi TomPaine;

    I’ve searched for all of the comments that you’ve posted on our site. The only comments of yours that have been deleted are the ones that were posted multiple times (over 10 duplicates).

  • cuyahogacat

    Most of what is being said by TeaPartyites is due to fear, coupled by ignorance.  That’s what the likes of Fox News and Grover Norquist depends on–unreasoning FEAR.

  • Sgt.Friday

    They were duplicates because the original had been removed (censored).  Thank you for posting it now.

  • TomPaine

    You’ve got the wrong end of the stick on what happened.  I posted a comment at about 1 am last night and after it was removed I tried repeatedly to repost it along w/ questioning its removal.  As you can see by the time stamp, it wasn’t posted until 10:49 am.  I leave you to draw your own conclusions as to why the mod claims that only the duplicates were removed.  And I’m a lefty questioning a rw disinformation statement on the segment.

  • TomPaine

    I’ve scrolled down and see that all my previous attempts (that weren’t visible when I posted them last night were posted en masse at around 7am this morning making me look like a lunatic.  I assure you they had all been removed shortly after I had initially posted each one.

  • Terry Cronis

    The book promises to be intriguing, this is not a widely-held viewpoint.

  • K Edmiston

    Read the book “The Perils of Prosperity: 1914-32″ by William E. Leuchtenburg,  if you want a blueprint for what happened during George W. Bush’s term, and has typically occured under GOP administrations. The more you study history, the more you find the more things change, the more they stay the same, and keep repeating…

  • TomPaine

    I’ve scrolled back and see that clearly there was a glitch w/ your website.  Each of my posts disappeared immediately after I submitted it.  (I refreshed the page to see if it was up.)   The commenter called himself Piksnilderf seems to have been having a similar problem.  Posts that were made late last night did not remain visible on the page until they were all posted en masse at around 7:30 this am.  They would show up on the page, then when the page was refreshed, would disappear.  Frankly I would prefer if you would remove the ones before the one time-stamped 10:49 am (which also had the appear/disappear problem for an hour or so) since the unintentional repetition makes me look like a lunatic.

  • K Edmiston

    yeah, even if you show them, they will just say, “oh, he’s not a ‘REAL’ conservative”

  • TomPaine

    I wasn’t aware that they’d finally gone up until I read your irate comment 20 minutes ago.  They were removed after I’d posted them (and saw each momentarily on the page) between midnight and 1 am, and were still not visible on 4am.  I did not intentionallly post duplicates.   Apologies accepted.

  • AnneLBS

    Hi TomPaine,

    I’m sorry that the site was not cooperative–I’ve seen this happen too, and we will fix the problem. Thank you for your patience and bringing the issue to our attention.

  • Mo Rage

    Actually, Mr. Moyers has been doing and saying things very like this 3 years ago, too, however, on his other PBS program “Bill Moyers Journal” so he was out there. He left, briefly, in 2009.

  • Anonymous

     The silliness and resulting absurdity need a constituency — people who get serious gain from catastrophic policies.  Think of the real estate hustle that underpinned Dubya’s “Ownership Society”. Sure, at first I thought that that meant that public policy would become the usual right-wing “He who has the gold makes the rules”. As a liberal I couldn’t imagine a difference — and even worse — interpretation.

    Forty years ago it would have been impossible; lenders were not allowed to bet on inflation or appreciation of real estate. About ten years ago lenders started pushing loans sure to fail — lending for nothing down on houses that cost ten or more times the purchaser’s income. If the borrower defaulted, then so what?  The lender could profit from the foreclosure in the event of the inevitable. If the borrower got lucky and got some equity, then perhaps the borrower could sell the house and move to something more modest. That would take away much of the risk of a foreclosure. 

    But the lenders then pushed luxury purchases (whether for one-time binges or wasting assets) using the equity as collateral.  Bye, bye equity.

    It was a horrible model of business, but people got away with it for a couple of years. Lenders and their employees got to live large when things were going good.

    Now the capital is gone, the huge salaries for high-risk lenders are no more, and all that is left is for people who got rich on a scam going to prison. Bad business can be profitable for a while and then reality sets in.

  • Anonymous

     It’s not the fiat currency that is the problem. Money is a surrogate for the wealth of a nation. A country is rich because it has desirable objects — whether oil, steel, cars, wood, or wool — to sell. Saudi Arabia is rich because it has oil to sell. Laos is poor because it has nothing to sell.

    The top 1% has the government as an enforcer through the courts and as a defender of “American interests abroad” through the military. It often makes its money through government contracts — as Ross Perot did — or gets huge benefits from government subsidies of business.

    The rest of us? If you are a child, then you are getting more out of the government than you are putting in because you are going to school. If you are elderly then you are likely getting Social Security that you paid into with work done when you were able.  Compound interest explains why you get more than you put in. If you are the ordinary fellow, then maybe the government gives you more value than you put in.      

  • Anonymous

     The Right can no longer be described as ‘conservative’ except as a euphemism. It has become demagogic and reckless — the antithesis of conservative. It is as authoritarian as ever, but now it offers nothing worthy of preservation. It is so ruthless and selfish that if it is followed to the limit it will bring national calamity — and shame. Class privilege and bureaucratic power no longer come with an assumption of service; they are now ends for the Right.

    Even worse is the caliber of the rhetoric. Rove and Norquist have offered so-called “talking points” that, far from enabling discussion, are intended to end it as the definitive reality.    

  • karen

    I would like to hear something about the other gorilla… what is unfunded government employees medical & retirement benefits that I suspect is much more than SS.medicare we hear about all of the time.  hawaii announced yesterday 8B unfunded and I believe Alaska similar and not much population.    Please comment on that big issue no one talks about… Karen

  • Sgt.Friday

    Moderates don’t ignore the very well-documented work of the economist Keynes.  He has carefully w/ historical economic data shown that in times where tax & other gov’t policies contribute to the concentration of wealth in the upper few %, significant economic downturn has always followed.  (Due to loss of necessary demand from the majority for goods & services.  The wealthy often invest in gold, collectibles, or foreign assets which create little or no economic activity in the U.S.)  That means more unemployment & lower real wages for the majority, ergo less revenue.  Just because the many factors involved mean the extent of the downturn and lost revenue varies, and it is nigh impossible to determine exactly how much less is being collected than would have been if the taxes had been more progressive, doesn’t change that truth.

    BTW, are you implying that Bartlett is a partisan liberal?  If so, you missed the introduction which explains that Bartlett says that he is criticizing Bush & Obama from the right.  The main point of his book is that GWB was not a true conservative because he presided over heavy gov’t spending.

    Perhaps he didn’t use “Laffer curve” claims in the discussion because it has been so heavily refuted by so many well-respected economists coming from many different political viewpoints.  It is now only touted by neo-con ideologues.  Your comment puts you in that camp.

  • Bill_USA

     GREAT SHOW.   A technical point:  in your transcript someone missed putting in Bartlett’s name indicating the words are his.  This might confuse someone who didn’t see the show or tape. (see below):

    BILL MOYERS: You’ve made it clear that the Bush cuts were worth little to those making $150,000, but a huge amount to those making five, ten, 15, $25 million. Do those folks in the Tea Party get that?

    (BRUCE BARTLETT: …begins speaking here but it is not indicated in transcript) 
    I’m not sure. I’m not sure if they really know very much about taxation. Back when the Tea Party first came into existence, back in 2009 they had a big demonstration in Washington.

  • Sgt.Friday

    From this article,9171,1692027,00.html in Time Magazine (a squarely centrist publication) regarding the “Laffer Curve”, “Harvard professor Greg Mankiw, chairman of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005, even devotes a section of his best-selling economics textbook to debunking the claim that tax cuts increase revenues.”

  • Piksnilderf

       Obama’s ’08 tax plan was protested  vociferously by TP’ers (& others), because it increased taxation on those who made over 250g & therefore hurt employers who might otherwise hire.
    The increased tax rate for someone who made 500g over that of someone who made 250g, would be an increase of $400.

    Tell me how many employees would be hired with that $400?

    Hire 2 full-time employees and pay them 50 cents a day?

  • Anonymous

    I agree.  The money has got to be limited and air time given freely to everyone. 

    I watched my favorite senator, Russ Feingold, lose his seat trying to set an example for campaign spending.

    I have often said that our congressman and senators had to be evaluated on job performance to continue their “employment”, we would have new ones at the end of their first terms.

  • piksnilderf

     Not in local library. Ordered on e-bay.
    Thanks for tip.

    I find it interesting that many of the same arguments were being made just before Depression, are being made today.
    GOP candidates talk of lowering tax rates of highest earners down to 25%, which is lowest ever and rate we had just before Depression hit.

  • Patrick

    you mention both sides not having
    a serious conversation. Obama tried
    it with health insurance and they gave it to him in the back. They lie and lie and win because of it. You can’t have a serious conversation, it’s
    like talking to a fence post. They are
    out to destroy Obama and the democratic party, even if it hurts the
    country. But they must not even care
    about the country, look what they did to our economy. Cut the taxes and go to war. [Halliburton sure made out.] Deregulating the Wall St.
    laws. But they still get elected and
    re-elected. I can’t believe it. If there
    was a god as they all seem to claim
    and hide behind, they would go straight to Hell and not pass Go.
    Oh, don’t get me started. 


  • Sgt.Friday

    “good hearted” may be going a bit too far.  He still blames the debt on Social Security & Medicare spending (ignoring the reality that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself and cost the gov’t exactly $0), and want to slash or eliminate both.  He feels that as a conservative, cutting taxes needs to be matched w/ equally extreme cuts in spending.  However he doesn’t appear to consider the multi-trillion dollar bailout of the megabanks  “spending”.  It’s nice that he wants dialog (while selling his book), but still seems a bit too comfortable w/ adjusting the facts when they don’t support his theories.  Not to mention no sense of the place of a social welfare net.

  • guest

    Fabulous show! Heather McGhee is w wonderful example of everything that is right and good about our country. Bruce Bartlett should have his own show. What an articulate and courageous man to speak the truth about the Republicans, the aged and many of the rich in our country.

  • Taichi-wuchi

    Where the right went wrong was when they hired Karl Rove to brace up Bush Jr.  Since then the right has been in the wrong consistently with its deception, lies and incompetence not to mention moral depravation. 

  • louie

    i watched you show feb 13 ,about the rich making millions of dollars a year and get a tax cut ,they buy the goverment,you said everything right ,what is the working man to do ,i worked for 31 years just lost my job last year with 2000 other warehouse workers because the owner wanted to make more money after making 21 million dollars clear last year moved out of state to pay less money and no benifits ,if you find a job its 10 dollars a hour you can’t pay your rent and all the other bills on that ,that wage is from 1980 this is 2012.

  • Twlly

    Loved Bruce Bartlett’s interview. About time a conservitive stated the obvious, the conservatives want the government programs to fail so they can push there anti tax agenda, cut funding , fail even more then tell the masses that government can’t do anything right. This scourging of public employees is a disgrace. So what if they get medical insurance, my question for you is “why don’t we all get medical insurance.  We have allowed the conversation to get hijacked by the right.  when did the service employees become the cause of our financial woes? Yet they are blamed for all our problems. How about those at the top that where willing to drive our economy over the cliff and could care less about this country, the “job creators,” you got all the money where are the jobs?  His analogy between taxes and our freedoms nailed it. No one can tell me what freedoms have been taken, but cutting taxes will return them, maybe because we can’t fund government and the plutocrats can run America, and those that can gravitate to the top will get more and the rest of us can die and get out of the way.  When both Bruce and David Stockman stand up and say their parties direction is ruining this country maybe somebody on the right would stand up and listen. Maybe the rest of us reasonable people should listen.

  • P.F. Henshaw

    I’m a systems scientist who studies how social networks become systems for people inventing their own detached realities. So I think the important observation Bruce Bartlett makes is how disconnected from reality people on ALL sides of our crisis management discussions are.    I’d agree with him that it’s just as serious a problem as that sounds.

    You need to think about it historically, and put yourself in the shoes of other highly successful problem solving societies, that also created great problems for themselves they couldn’t solve and began failing as a result.   I’m not sure if there are any that escaped at that point, but there sure seem to have been a lot that didn’t.  

    The “multiplication of languages” is what that’s called, one of several observable natural symptoms of the process that is taking place.   It goes with being addicted to ever increasing wealth and complexity, too, and entering into an “information age” and environmental “plagues” and contradictions as wealth conflicts with natural limits.   With no real way for people to ground their beliefs other than in mutual agreements with friends and peers, everyone’s realities drift apart as society confronts ever greater crises.   

    It might take a bit more explanation, I think.   I write from many different perspectives on many of these kinds of rather interesting “wicked problems”, fyi. 

  • Piksnilderf

     Do you think the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in ’87, which had essentially required media outlets to represent issues in a balanced way,has  played a crucial role in lowering average Americans level of understanding of critical issues??

  • Anonymous

     I totally agree.  Am a firm believer that people of goodwill will band together and fight for our democracy.  It is so blatantly obvious how our country has been dumb-down.  How these rich corp do not pay their fair share of taxes. Mr. Bartlett articulated this fact so well. 

    Folks need to wake up and realized what these right-winged republicans are doing to America. 

  • Anonymous

     Well said.

  • Anonymous

     It is so true.  These radio jocks brainwashed folks 24/7 with their lies.

  • Anonymous

     Its going to backfire on them. 

  • Anonymous

     quite as its kept.  I bet some of them are.

  • Anonymous

     The same BS applies to Iran.  These GOP candidates ate just desperate to start another war to kill off more of our young men women.

  • Anonymous

     We better wake up.  Even lost people find their way.

  • Anonymous

     They are masters at brainwashing people.

  • DPinMI

    I agree SC… Why not address the real problem we are spending MORE than we have simply put we cannot sustain this especially when too many middle class jobs have left the country and our  tax base has evaporated.

  • G. Hall

    Such an odd interview. Mr. Moyers has no interest in promoting Mr. Bartlett’s economic views (other than raising taxes, blaming Bush, and electing more Democrats). 

    It was a very weak exchange regarding what Pres. Clinton left behind to Pres. Bush (what Bush inherited – is how it is played with Obama – is it not?).

    The main reason for the surpluses at the end of the Clinton term, was the income producing effect (and taxation thereof) of the (Enron) bubble of irrational greed and corporate and Wall Street fraud.

    It collapsed in March of 2000.  That spelled the end of the surpluses and guaranteed a quick return to massive deficits. It mattered not (other than the final details of how much) who was President on Jan. 21, 2001; Bush or Gore. We were heading into a recession, and 9/11 was on the way.  Bush wanted long term tax stimulus – the D’s wanted short term first – the tax rebates of 2001 was their’s.

    Progressive economists Dean Baker, Paul Krugman, the tax arm of the Brookings Inst., Heritage  – all are on record here in that little piece of reality.

    The shift from projected surpluses to realized deficits for 2001-2003 (3 yrs) was approx. $1.3 Trillion. Bush’s stimulus (tax cuts) during this period was approx $325 billion.  Through the end of 2003 – the Iraq war costs  totaled $56 billion. 

    I’d bet that Gore would have wanted to spend more on stimulus? Maybe not as much as Obama’s in 2009 – but one could assume that the short term (2-3 year) impact on budget deficits would have been similar to Bush’s.

    Interestingly, following the tax cut’s full implementation, in 2003, tax revenues soared right up to the housing bubble collapse (about the only economic engine that Bush had) and deficits were shrinking quickly — let’s call that period the Bush cycle; the result of his policies.

    Still, and keeping all of that on the table, the total record of the Bush years is that debt skyrocketed.  He did  not control it.

    He did also inherit quite a mess from Clinton – the bubble fallout, and the housing bubble.

    Without the bubble, Clinton would not have left surpluses behind; nor would he have had a crash.

    Had Clinton not created and fueled the housing bubble, Bush would not have had any economy at all.

    Actually, we’d been better off with that. As  we could have begun a discussion about how to re-tool America, without having the great recession hanging over our head.

    All should be on the table for any serious discussion.

  • Bpnjensen

    I agree Mr. Hall.  Despite the fact that I am a liberal, I recognize the the role that the Clinton Administration had in propelling this inevitable crisis forward and that it took considerable short-sightedness to do some of the things Clinton did…things that he still defends, in fact, like the Glass-Steagall repeal and the NAFTA (and its ilk) signing.  What we need to do is learn ALL the lessons of history, and then make informed and judicious decisions about the future.  We need great care and sane cool heads – which I think is what Moyers was trying to get at with Bartlett.

  • Sawyer

    So what your saying is that we shouldn’t blame Bush for the economic crisis that we are now in because it is apparent that it strated with Clinton. However, there was ample warning that the bubble was about to burst (check out old issues of the WALL STREET JOURNAL).

    The fact that Republicans reason to tame the “beast” by spending any surplus had been brought up during Bush’s administration–as well as little concern about the national debt. Free trade was king and the imbalance in the trade deficit did not concern Republicans during the Bush administration. There was never really much of an attempt for fiscal conservatisim throughtout his years in office. We really don’t need to go into the cost of the war–this is still in progress.

  • G. Hall

     No – I didn’t suggest that we shouldn’t blame Bush for the crisis.  I added a little history,  and  propose that all of the history be on the table.

    I was warning everyone I knew about the danger of the housing bubble from about 2001 forward.  Understood clearly that it was a bubble, in 1999. I didn’t yet understand the historic size of what they’d ordered up – all the players, etc.

    Think of it. How in the world does one of the most interviewed men in the the US – Bill Clinton – go all of this time, without being hounded by a press asking him about anything other than Monica Lewinski?

    How about:

    Did you offer any advice to President Bush about how you’d deal with the economic collapse he inherited?

    Do you think that all of your efforts with Enron were a mistake?

    What did you mean when you promised “never again,’ in Rwanda, when the most deadly conflict since the end of WWII was already raging next door, in the DR Congo. Three million more humans were to die, there alone, before the end of your term. What did “never again,” actually mean?

    How do you feel about how rich the CEO’s got, while you were President?

    About the top 1% of income earners share of income soaring up to the highest level since the Roaring Twenties?

    PS – Pres. Obama is on record, in noting how the housing bubble started  – not a soul in the media will ever ask him about that again, will they?

  • daniel.pfeiffer

    Great show last night, Bill.  I appreciate you very much for bringing those who are not afraid to speak the truth onto your show.  I thoroughly enjoyed appreciated both guests, and wondered what policy they might write together.  But, my lingering question remains: What do sane people do TODAY when the rest of our media refuse to do their job in educating the public?

    Case in point, I read in the Opinion section of the NY Times yesterday about how ALEC is heavily involved (if not outright dictating) the writing of our laws (which I already knew)…I could not find an ‘opinion’ in the whole piece, just facts.  Then I did a search for ALEC (in long form) on their site and found only opinion pieces for at least 3 pages.  There can be only one reason for facts to be reported on the Opinion page – so that people who find facts inconvenient don’t have to be challenged.

    Until our media starts reporting the truth – on the Front Page – we are doomed.  It’s time to start calling out the crooks and liars  in broad daylight.  You’re one of the few who do.

  • Scott w

    I am not sure what your reading or where you research is coming from , you are what we call a low information voter or just a rewriter of history
    Your rambling statement is  mostly and factually incorrect,  ,, so  sorry

  • G. Hall


    Try me.

    How so.  What is mostly and/or factually incorrect?

  • G. Hall

     It’s not my desire to pin blame anywhere more than someplace else, nor to deflect some where it needs to be; rather for us all to look at the entire picture. I thank you for your open mind.

    Andrew Cuomo and Fannie and
    Freddie –
    How the youngest Housing and Urban
    Development secretary in history
    birth to the mortgage crisis.

    . . to this from the right:

    June 2009 – CATO – HUD Scandals by Ted DeHaven

    Both will hold you spellbound.

    From the left to the right – all the experts know the story.

    Why has our national media not kept it on the table, so that we never make such mistakes again.

    Without the housing bubble – Wall Street would have had to find something else to play in.  Perhaps a green bubble?

  • Bonnie

    God bless you Bill Moyers.

  • Lance Drake

    Well darn – my comment did not pass your muster.  I would truly like to hear from you as to what were the criteria on which you decided not to include my comments.  Please reply to me, if you will, at my DISQUS email address – Thank you.

  • Piksnilderf

     Your link is corrupt I believe

       While dotcom bubble was substantial, there is no comparison to the systemic foundational collapse that was wrought by financial/credit/mortgage bubble.
       A lot of investors and California in particular were severely hurt when dotcom bubble collapsed.    If what a high % of economists is to be believed, our country came perilously close to another Depression during recent financial collapse.
        If God was elected he couldn’t have brought us quickly out of the hole W & Co dug for us.
       There is no comparison between those two bubble economies.

    The technology sector, in general, still advances and still promotes growth within our economy.
    “Bush wanted long term tax stimulus “-
    There is no data to support the claim that tax cuts for the wealthy stimulate job growth or generates revenue. This is a myth.

    “Through the end of 2003 – the Iraq war costs  totaled $56 billion.” I find this hard to believe, but will research time permitting.
    Of course we all know that W admin wildly misrepresented the cost of the War keeping much of the costs “off the books” .
    Obama immediately included these costs within the budget after his term began.

    “I’d bet that Gore would have wanted to spend more on stimulus?”
    One thing’s a pretty safe bet. Gorr wouldn’t have occupied Iraq.  Imagine the costs that would have saved. More likely, instead of creating the most divisive policies imaginable as did W (both nationally and internationally), he might have brought the world and country together. More likely he would have emphasized policy that lowered dependence on oil and channeled countries patriotic fervor in that regard instead of bloodlust.

    “tax revenues soared right up to the housing bubble collapse” Wow! Why do you think that might be? Could it have to do with the greatest economic bubble this nations ever experienced in which many sectors and individuals were spending borrowed $ like gangbusters?
    A “bubble” is a mirage- it’s not built on a foundation. When it collapsed, the true cost of our overspending showed itself. When the dance ended only a few percent at the top had made substantial gains. 

    Clinton has admitted some blame for housing bubble although he has  said he surely would have acted before it spun out of control to the degree that it did before collapse.

    W is at least if not more culpable. Clinton was not Prez, during most of the boom and therefore could not do anything about it.

    Too tired to do better than that for now.

  • Richard Fleming

    Astounding to hear a conservative economist take on the disastrous policies of the neo-con elites. Mr. Bartlett deserves applause for his honesty and moral courage.

  • AnneLBS

    Hi Lance Drake,

    Your comment is approved; it was automatically (electronically) censored due to a few of the words you used. Once it was checked by a human moderator for the context of those words, it was approved. Thank you for your patience.

  • Jbeile

    Welcome back Mr. Moyers. 
    Your interviews are OUTSTANDING.  Thank
    you so much for returning.  You are an
    American seer. 

    In your interview with Bruce Bartlett you stated that when some
    people receive knowledge that conflicts with their beliefs, they will stick with
    their beliefs.  Bartlett responded that you
    should be talking to sociologists and psychologists instead of an economist to
    get at those problems. 

    I think you touched upon one of the most important issues in
    this whole political debate. Why do we have such extreme right and left wing beliefs?  What is at the heart of this conflict and why
    does the pendulum swings from the far right to the far left over 30 to 50 year cycles.  One wonders if there is any progress made at
    all.  What is the root cause of these different

    I think the answer lies in the social sciences and particularly
    in an understanding of our evolved selves. 
    Paul Rubin wrote an excellent book on this subject titled, “Darwinian
    Politics”.  He identifies two dozen
    political preferences and explains how they evolved over the past few million
    years to influence our thinking and decision making in modern times.

    Other people have written on this subject.  Dan Ariely wrote, “Predictably Irrational”, a
    book that explores the irrational nature of our decision-making.  Thomas Kida wrote, “Don’t Believe Everything You
    Think”, and John Medina wrote, “Brain Rules”, a neurological look at
    reasoning.  Malcom Gladwell, in his excellent
    book, “Blinc”, talks about our sub-conscious, intuitive ability to make decisions.  All these very innovative thinkers, some of whom
    are TED speakers, explore the irrationality of our minds and how evolution affects
    our decision-making processes.   

    I believe it is essential that we understand this part of ourselves
    so we can deal intelligently with it.  Essentially,
    we have a human nature that evolved in a “survival of the fittest” environment while
    democracy is an idea that steps outside that environment.  It’s an idea that is not survival of the
    fittest but survival of everyone.  It’s an
    idea the came out of our intellect and imagination, and not out of our DNA.  Until we understand this we will be swinging
    back and forth between the loudest shouters and the worst disasters, between right
    and left political extremes. 

    We need to approach our political life in the same way we do
    our technological life, fact-based and rational.  The progress we have made technologically over
    the past 100 years has been unimaginable. 
    No one in 1900 could even imagine what 2000 would be like.  Yet politically we’ve practically stood
    still.  Why, because of our evolutionary
    baggage.  We need to recognize this and
    begin to set ourselves free. 

    In my opinion it is essential that we begin to develop an understanding
    of our own human nature and an appreciation for the aspiration of democracy.  Democracy is one of the few ideas that are outside
    the bounds of evolution.  It represents
    the greatest and boldest exploration into new territories ever conceived.  It is what Jesus talked about.  It is the promise of a heaven on earth, which
    was His hope and wish and prayer.

    This is an awesome adventure, a noble and worthy exploration
    – greater than Columbus, greater than Apollo – exploring the unknown of democracy.  The potential of democracy, like technology, is

  • Anonymous

    Just want to say that your PBS program last week was terrific and highly informative…one of the reasons I continue to support public television.

  • Amyerdt

    I wish people would stop talking about the top 1%. The IRS says it takes 1.5 million net worth to get into the top 1%. Other studies show around 9 million net worth. That’s not that much money! A lot of hard working Americans have achieved that.

    IT’S REALLY THE TOP .01%!!! THAT’S AROUND 30,000 Americans that control the majority of wealth, power and legislation in this country.
    Take a look at the Forbes 400:

  • Amy

    What I want is the IRS to publish the total gross income of the top 30,000. Compare that with the combined income of the botom 99.9%. Let’s see those figures!!!

  • Chuck Denk

    Bruce’s insights about what drives his former cohorts was a major help in informing me how those who follow the “No new Taxes, reduce the deficit through cuts alone” ideology could believe something that is so demonstrably impossible. However, it generates more questions that I find even harder to find answers to. To start with, how can someone be so lame-brained as to believe that the percentage of  GDP that government spending happens to be is equivalent to the percentage of lack of liberty. From my perspective, the amount of freedom I have correlates with the amount of income I have available, not with how little my government spends.

    Taken to the limit, government spending reduced to 0% of GDP leads to socio-economic anarchy, which could be Darwinian to the extreme if society breaks down. The amount of freedom I could have would be dependent upon how much of the social fabric remains, and whether a market economy would be viable. There has to be enough government spending to not only maintain society, but more importantly to maintain socio-economic justice within that society. There is a balance between too little government spending and too much. But, before that balance can mean anything useful, what the government does spend needs to be well-spent, not wasted as far too much of it is now, maintaining the long ago failed experiment called Trickle-down Economics. Moreover, the problem is not that the faucet wasn’t turned on, it’s that the flow went (and continues to go) the wrong way and that the faucet is wide open, so that “wealth” is Flooding Up from the 99% to the 1%, or more precisely, from the 99.9% to the 0.1%, so that the rich are getting richer far faster. [But have fewer useful ways of using their wealth because it’s too highly concentrated towards the top while more and more people descend into poverty.]

  • Phillip Van Garrick

    Injecting polemics into an honest discussion!  Shame on you !

  • Harveyv

    By this point, I think everyone who cares, knows what the problem is.  The question is what to do about it???  Perhaps,  we should have a moratorium on redefining the problem yet again and again until we have X number of  proposed realistic solutions to discuss. 

    I’m a bit disappointed by Bill Moyers’ taking President Obama to task on the SuperPac issue.   One only need look back to Kerry/Bush and Swiftboating to see what large amounts of money can do to distract voters.  Is Bill Moyers suggesting President Obama not have money to combat the inevitable similar smears that are surely coming?  If there is anyone with a realistic chance of instituting reform it’s President Obama.  But he can’t do it if he’s not president. 

  • G. Hall

     Well, if you type in dot . com (w/o) the space – it automatically turns it into  link?

    I made no attempt to compare the two bubbles.  The fallout from the housing bubble collapse and resulting financial crisis was much worse than from the earlier bubble.

    Clinton didn’t create the dot . com bubble – oh, he helped along – deeply involved in the Enron mess – and Bush didn’t create the Housing bubble (Clinton’s HUD did that) — but in both cases, neither Clinton, nor Bush stopped the ship – before they became dangerous.

    Dean Baker, CEPR, told me (in 2002) that the total losses in the crash were expected to run in the $10-$12 Trillion range.  Thousands of companies went down.  I think I remember that some 3,600 corporations got de-listed from the stock exchanges??

    CA’s budget, and economy, took an enormous hit (and it persisted), as did many states and the federal budget.

    The Iraq war began on March 20, 2003 – that’s why the costs thru the end of 2003 seem low to you.  I only mentioned it and the tax cuts (stimulus)

    Obama is still pushing tax cuts even today – to stimulate the economy.  I opposed the top end of the tax cuts – from early on – and  have actively lobbied against them.  But, don’t forget, only 18% of all of the 2001  – 2003 tax cuts went to those making over $200K ($250K married).  82% go to others – including a lot to us middle class.  In fact a heck of a lot more than the current 2% payroll tax, FTR.

    I propose that if you re-read my post, you will see a lot less to get defensive over.  I noted that the huge growth in tax revenues following the 2003 tax cuts – was “interesting.” Then I noted that the only economy Bush (we) had going was the housing bubble.  Same for Clinton (we) then during the dot .com bubble.

    Here’s a question. There was a recovery in place prior to Clinton’s first term. A recovery in Reagan’s first term, from the mess he inherited (the only great recovery in this discussion), and perhaps there will be one now. It’s lagging – even slower than Bush’s recovery.

    Is most of this current recovery, simply cyclical? As with bubbles – what goes up, must come down – and come down hard; in recoveries – what went down, will go back up – in time.

    I’d observe, that had Bartlett had his way during the Bush years, Bill Moyers, would have been on his loudest critics – at each step of the way. As I started – it’s an odd interview – spin – not honest brokering. Moyers is using Bartlett.

  • Jantiff Ravensroke

     Would also add to your reading list of (non)rational decision making..’Future Babble’, Dan Gardner.

  • Robert

    I urge everyone who recognizes the Bill Moyers’ forum as an act of courage, to seriously consider nominating Mr. Moyers for the Profiles in Courage Award at the JFK library and museum website. I can not think of anyone more worthy.

  • sandanchor

    Sorry, but there are a lot of people where I live who care but are grossly misinformed.  That is why I am sending the link to this show to every person who sends me misguided right wing propaganda.  It helps that Mr. Bartlett is a conservative.

  • Mpetruzzelli

    Keep the faith!!

  • Jafsaq

    as always Bill Moyer is educational.Bruce Bartlett`s interview was wonderful.Keep up the good work.

  • Piksnilderf

     Besides the question of magnitude, another difference between the two bubbles is that Clinton admin used the resulting surplus revenues to pay down debt. W did opposite.

    The lion’s share of housing bubble occurred under W, who waxed eloquent of the virtues of “ownership society”.

    I would suggest that Reagan’s economy being better than Carter’s had as much to do with Volcker keeping interest rates in the 20’s forr Carter, and then dropping them for Reagan.
    Reagan’s willingness to triple the national debt also offered some “stimulus”.

    Bush did not have as much to recover from in my opinion.
    After credit/ financial collapse, people were not spending $.
    Consumer spending represents lion’s share of economy.

    As far as a recovery, my gut feeling is that so much $ has been stripped out of our (and world’s) economy and into the hands of the megawealthy, I just don’t see how this $ finds it’s way back in.

    Another factor is simple demographics- our economy was BOUND to take a hit around 2010 or ’11, just because of the boomers getting past their productive years and heading into retirement.

    It may be a bit odd interview, but fairly informative nonetheless.
    If it’s purpose is too educate and open the eyes of some who have not been following “this stuff” very closely, I think it hit it’s mark pretty well.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    We can’t “explore our political life in a fact based and rational way” until we understand the nature of wealth power and how it is routinely applied to produce an ill-informed and deferential populace easy convinced that crony financialism and Oligarchy are functional and inevitable. Psychologism and pseudo-science are nothing but a smokescreen and a delaying tactic.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Wow!  This little critique of self-delusion was at first censored because of a factually reported song title.
    Is Bill Moyers becoming hyper-polite in his dotage?
    When a commentator is denied possession of the proper terminology on pain of total exclusion this cripples discourse. And then they blame their data miner, saying how a moderator luckily caught it. But how many worthy posts go missing here because of strictly programmed electronic screening when the author doesn’t complain? And I do expect we are mining a little deeper than Carlin’s 7 forbidden words.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    It’s much more pervasive than abandoning the Fairness Doctrine, though that was part of the dumbing-down process. The works of Adam Curtis and Jeff Warrick (documentaries) discuss how audiences are programmed subliminally in all aspects of life simultaneously. The result is eager consumers lacking natural indignation and curiosity.  Education has remained the locus of sorting and domestication for the mass of society. Deferential behaviors for those low in hierarchy are stressed. Financial success is rewarded with educational deference to the point that we’ve come to believe that success in a dumbed-down educational system portends high income. Maybe conformity will carry some aways. The truth is pre-dominately the opposite in our hierarchy of wealth. And that is why the rich idiots are in charge now. It is not only the conservative robo-callers in denial. They are the easiest to identify, but actually it is all of us. No one likes to admit our fix, but every time Moyers informs you of something you should have long known you realize it is true.

  • Arne Paul

    Thank you, Mr. Moyer.  There is so little responsible journalism left.  I’m thrilled to see you’re still going strong and bringing marvelous guests who are such eloquent voices for the common man.  It’s so refreshing to watch and hear some of the brightest articulate the plight of working class Americans.  A great antidote to the massive looting and corruption that seems to know no bounds in the American landscape as they attempt to steal everything they can.  Bravo, Bill, bravo!    

  • GradyLeeHoward

    It’s a shame Moyers has to waste so much time de-programming pods and getting people beyond mistaken manners of wealth deference. And then many are dumbed-down again by media, schooling and work culture by the next week. It takes him forever to safely move ahead to something new and useful. (Is Church-granny Teaset setting the pace?) It’s sometimes like he can’t turn the page ahead or back, a pitiful arrest of discourse.

    Here he is talking about Millennials and Reagan in the same broadcast. The salient fact is that Millennials never knew of Reagan except as a myth. So after the Diefictionalization and the Big State Funeral for a demented actor we have to bring back a lesser crony to assert the facts. Reagan himself was too limited to anticipate the outcomes of his voodoo, but the Oligarchs who owned him were not. If you think about the indentured minds of the smartest Millennials the Oligarchy got everything they expected. Now global perpetual debt, a worldwide financial bucket shop and endless war profit are Elite realities, and we are at a worse starting point than the Gilded Age or the bottom of the Great Depression. It’s so Orwellian it’s Orwellian.

    Moyers is a TV creature, and if TV had been allowed to fulfill its promise we wouldn’t be in this fix. And now they are turning the Internet on us like a firehose. The truth is that Bruce Bartlett is a 40 year out of date Twinkie, and that Bill owes us something organic (genuine) and fresh. You’d only eat this shingleshift in a fallout shelter.

    Sometimes I think if Big Bird were on Moyers&Company fans would comment how they were happily informed, and that BB should run for office. It just goes to show how entrenched we are in self-defeating habits of mind, expecting miracles from Moyers’ tired old formula. (Linking to a middle of the road middle income girl from conformist-sensationalist Alternet won’t provide the needed Oomph!)

  • Beverly Fox

    Thank you Bill Moyers.  It is so wonderful to hear an intellectual conversation and not the brainless sound bites that flood the media.   Please keep up the good work

  • Beverly Fox

    Sounds as if you are filled with fear to hear a view point different from yours.  

  • Robert

    Respectifully, I do not agree with you about Mr. Moyers, during his lifetime and mine, no one on TV has shown more courage, his fight for civil rights alone
    propels him to the top list of outstanding living  Americans.

    I do agree with you about President Reagan, sadly his intellectual abilities were limited, his near death assasination, his long fight with Alzheimer’s disease
    enfeebled him and shamefully enabled others to steal,etc. But, although I do not agree with any of his policies, as a human being I deeply respect his courage
    My father was a policeman who would dive in the water to save someone who was drowning, even though it was the same teenage girl screaming five different times; intelligent-perhaps not, but I loved and admired his courage. (he never saved that girl, but he did save a baby in a burning builing).

    There is not question in my mind that all three men have what I admire most; courage, the kind of courage I wish I had. 

  • Mike W.

    Why can’t more shows be like this?  No agenda…not worried about “entertaining” us…Just pure unadulterated knowledge (well –  unadulterated enough)

     Thank you Mr. Moyers and staff.  

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Mr. Moyers for coming back and like I always  wished your were in the old days too.
    It is the natural right and duty of everyone to defend themselves and the integrity of their survival comfort zone which includes their beliefs. Confronting people with the truth, especially by a perceived adversary, can be such an attack on that as to marshal a response up to and including war or murder. Remember the contest between the wind and the sun to get the cloak off the traveler? The wind tried first and the harder it blew the tighter the traveler held on. When the sun tried he  used gentle warmth wherein the traveler voluntarily removed the cloak. While there’s nothing quite like national security and war to warm the conservative heart we’ve got to find another way to help them grok the need to pump quality back into the nation as a whole. After all, this will give them a better world too.

  • Anonymous

    He’s not trying to hide behind intellectual flash. Moyers has the courage to create a simple, honest, and  sincere offering.

  • Joe

           Mr. Bartlett was exactly the mirror of the ideologue he represented conservatives to be: intolerant and dismissive of alternative views.  It is possible that beliefs are deeply held and not the result of indoctrination.  It is possible that he could be wrong.

           One who makes $75k may take home $50k.  Tolls, fees, sales taxes (especially alcohol, gas, and cigarette), and the real estate tax portion of housing can reasonably bring that figure well over 50% in New York.  Don’t disregard that fact while simultaneously ignoring the call for reduction.  Preaching that religious people are more succeptible to the machinations of Fox News than are others to MSNBC, NBC or any similar cheerleader does not strengthen your position. 

           Medicaid is expensive, as is Medicare.  Granting additional benefits in the form of Health Care relief is inconsistent with an understanding that these programs are underfunded. I notice Mr. Bartlett did not support a wealth tax, or at least a massive tax on generational transfers in excess of reasonable maximums.  Bipartisan support reduced the estate tax and bipartisan support prevents its reintroduction.

           Please do not lecture that others are intolerant as you dismiss their positions as requiring psychological treatment.  It is possible to be smart, sane and religious.  At least I thought so.   
         Mr. Moyers started out as if reading from a script, that tax reductions wasted the surplus, and caused unjustified deficits.  He redeemed himself, in my opinion, when he acknowledged bipartisan support for the tax reductions that purportedly caused the entire deficit.

           The positions that brought us those tax cuts arose when stimulus was required in 2001.  Or was that wasteful?  If so, the current government bailouts supervised by congress should not have gone to the 1%, and the hedge fund that owned Chrysler might have lost some money.

         Please don’t call me crazy for not believing the government is helping me, and for believing that both parties have disdain for the average Joe.

  • Paging Dr. Funkenstein

    What a cynical troll you are!

  • Craig Berlin

    The only question is, what are you going to do?  Take their money?  It won’t solve the deficit problem.

  • Anonymous

    Look, I’m sorry if my observations cut too near the truth. At Bill Moyers Journal I witnessed a less milquetoast and more aggressive approach. Bruce Bartlett is candid about the supply side mistake, but he belongs in the Archives. We need to act, not rechew the cud. Bill Moyers doesn’t consider himself above critique. He relishes a push from the viewers. Self-satisfaction among passive viewers holds him back. He does not intend this show as infotainment. In TV you’re only as effective as your most recent broadcast.

  • Anonymous

    It depends on the content of the rest of this season’s shows.

  • Anonymous

    So you saw Reagan as a father figure?
    It was all in your head. 
    Please, please, please don’t make Bill Moyers a father figure too.
    Don’t hold him back, but turn him loose.

  • Anonymous

    Bev- that fear thing is probably projection.
    You don’t want Moyers to exceed your limits.

  • Larry R.

      It’s interesting to me that as soon as I got rid of my cable, because i’m unemployed now, I finally se an interview about government that made sense to me. Maybe it’s because I no longer have cnn, fox etc.
      I remember the Reagan trickle down era, and even then I was thinking, ‘ sure, that’ll work, as long as greed is not involved, duhg’. I think Capitalism and greed are synonymous. I am not a socialist. I just believe the governments role, if it HAS to control finance, is to balance the two.
      The one point I disagree with Mr. Bartlett on is this. I think the reason we don’t have a flat tax is so the government can hide the amount of money it is spending. If we had a flat tax, everyones taxes would go up tremendously, and we would be pissed. We would actually know in real time what the government spends, and then maybe force them to cut spending because it would affect us immediately on a day to day basis.
       I don’t see why anyone should pay a different tax rate. Why? I don’t hink the wealthy should pay more taxes anymore than I believe single people should subsidize those who are cranking out children.

  • Scottwin321

    G hall , 

     I owe you an apology.
    I believe my mistake was that I was responding to  a different comment .
    .I have to agree with most everything you stated, 
      My fault. 
     Ha  G  when is the last time you heard  someone admit that ? !!!!!!!!!!


    Grady is clever, stealthly weaving through the blogs, , ever ready to spring, spring, like a hungry fox; some scientists believe that the dog evolved
    from the fox, perhaps secretly wanting a little petting once in awhile rather than a meal’, let’s keep the metaphors civil, my almost always friendly fox.

    Mr. Moyers is a friend to the people, lets keep our friends close and respect our opponents; Grady, I admire your writing skills, but kindness, in this crazy world, is even more important.

  • Anonymous

    But think about who more than half of the government is at this particular time in history, it’s being controlled by the top .o1% who is basically the four men who own the biggest producers of weaponry in the entire world and make upwards of a billion dollars a year, that’s just the owners. In order for them to continue making that money they have to have a venue, a market thus, the atmosphere is such that we are making wars to keep these guys in business. These guys know in real time just how much the government is spending because they are receiving what’s being spent.

  • Anonymous

    Larry, I can’t believe your logic. You don’t believe why anyone should pay a different tax rate??  You obviously don’t believe in progressive taxation. You think that a millionaire should pay the same tax rate as someone making minimum wage?   I don’t understand your thinking at all. The wealthy MUST pay more and if they don’t, it’s why the Federal government is in such bad fiscal shape with a debt it will surmount, unless taxes are raised on the wealthy. We need progressive taxation in the U.S., NOT a flat tax.

  • Anonymous

    No question about it. That is why it was done away with.

  • Joannefilm

    I think I would agree with you if we were talking about say, The MacLehrer Newshour, but how does this explain Fox News? Where’s the Fairness Doctrine operating there?

  • Anonymous

    Tim Geithner today unveils his (Obama’s?) plan to lower corporate tax rates from 35% to 28%, and corporate manufacturing rates to 25%. Some exemptions and loopholes are supposed to close, but as we have witnessed in recent “reforms” lobbyists write these complex bills and make their clients winners at the expense of individual wage-earners. 
    So all the shell games will continue with 90% completed products (most value already added) crossing the border at the last instant to be “made in the USA.”

    Our whale of an Empire has rotted from the head, and every little entrepreneur newly hot-gluing Chinese vinyl extrusions together to make Mr. Codger’s energy star windows fancies himself a “jab crater” (Job Creator) and a global trader. People see how make believe debt is imposed over us as our “creditors” are bailed out with our tax burden, and they have lost confidence in this system. People lacking faith  in a social contract will cheat wherever they can as a personal defense. (witness Greece) So now the once vaunted Obama Administration operates on a Peronist level to please its sponsoring Oligarchs. It is duplicitous in awarding war medals for fictional bravery even as it proposes a law to punish those who might falsely claim battle exploits. It seeks war (or at least covert conflict) with Iran to stir tired jingoism one last time. And for what do we fight? Protesters will be caged in chainlink and razor wire 20 miles from the 2012 Democratic and Republican conventions.
    The free speech zones are ever shrinking and ever more conditional, just like the tax obligations of the wealthy Elite.

    How sad that Larry must indulge the fantasy that if he pays the same 15% rate as the idle hedge fund billionaire that he too is  a Big Man. Meanwhile the chasm between us Larrys and the big operators rapidly widens. Or maybe Larry will find 5 million to float a PAC and catch Geithner’s ear. Keep on posin’, posin’, posin’…

  • Anonymous

    The government stimulates all the wrong behaviors when it cuts taxes on our abusers.

  • Anonymous

    Leave the entertainment aspect to us posters.

  • Anonymous

    This pup don’t lick.
    If Billy Don disrespects my expectations I call him on it. I think he appreciates my honesty. Moyers moderators can silence us at will if the “brand” is being besmirched. It is my responsibility to maintain Moyers&Company’s integrity by testing those limits. No one is forced to concur with me.

  • Anonymous

    It depends on how many times we take “their” money, and on how many times we tax their great wealth. If the Oligarchs don’t possess the missing money value for which we suffer austerity, then where did it go?
    Craig seems more a wealth patriot than a fan of justice and fairness. What a jackpot attitude. On Facebook he’s a Conquistador, and who’s he conquerin’?

  • Anonymous

    Good observation! The clock and the calendar augment censorship. Free speech delayed is free speech thwarted.

  • Anonymous

    David, have you watched “Thrive” by Foster Gamble? His reasoning parallels yours.

  • Ricko

    If everyone pays the same rate, a man who makes more WILL pay more money! 

    Spending is a different matter, the government can make money out of this air to pay it’s bills, you only notice this as inflation.

    The biggest problem is the government spending money on things we don’t need, because the military industrial complex, the banks and the oil companies are able to lobby for what they want.

    Why is it that the largest US companies are ones that sell to the government? They should be the ones that sell to the general public!

  • Robert

    ‘This pup won’t lick”-now that is cool!

  • Anonymous

    It’s rather typically liberal to suppose that taxes had or would have any effect on the country’s economic situation, but then they believe the welfare is the same as a job. Besides that a 91% tax on the 1% isn’t going to begin to compensate for all the tax breaks and entitlements showered on the 99%.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Look, I thought your biographical post (Reagan/Dad) was exactly the kind of approach we need more of here. When Moyers reverts back to being a Democrat (party affiliate) that’s when he needs our guidance. 

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Why ain’t Moyers&Company pointing that out? Also, China holds less than 8% of our national debt. Some of that 8% doubles back to US based stateless Oligarchs holding partial ownership of Chinese institutions. So we owe most of this debt to the same wealthy people we keep bailing out (by borrowing more of their fictional money). What a bucket shop!

  • Jeff

    It’s rather typically conservative to suppose
    that the lower economic classes aren’t due anything from the upper. You obviously don’t understand the problem here, that it has to do with the wealthy taking control of our system for their benefit. I suggest that you go to:

    and read the report. The reason that the rich have done so well is that they’ve controlled policy to their benefit such as changing the tax law to tax working at a far higher rate than not working (speculation). They have also written trade policy so that they could off-shore American jobs to low-wage labor markets. Also, they have stolen earnings from workers when productivity rose but not the workers’ compensation. So, what you pejoratively call welfare is what’s left to the lower income classes by the upper.

  • Vivek

    I’d like to make a two points of fact regarding government spending that Mr. Bartlett hinted at but did not expand on.

    First, the spending that is discussed in the media and politics is mostly discretionary spending, not total spending. Discretionary spending is the portion of the federal budget that can actually be tweaked on an annual basis.  The fact is that taxes not collected is effectively the same as money spent.  Every dollar of subsidy or tax break given to a giant corporation that doesn’t need it is a dollar no longer available to spend on something like education or a safe bridge or a tax break for working people.  But those subsidies are part of federal spending, just not the discretionary budget, and are far larger than Social Security, Medicare, etc.

    Second, the single largest expenditure in the discretionary budget is the military, not social programs. Even Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid added together are still currently smaller than our military expenditures.  The problem is that military also represents a massive portion of national employment.  You know how people say the federal government is the largest employer in the nation?  Well most of that employment is the military.

  • Dnadanyi

    To hear 2 major players( Bartlett and Stockman) form the Reagan administration admit what went wrong helps me validate my perspective. I also admire their courage to speak out because just maybe a conservative or two could be influenced.

  • Dnadanyi

    Could win/win and win/lose attitudes be consistant with progressive and conservative behaviors perhaps?  Also conservatives seem to mix-up Capitalism and Democracy. Bachman shouts “freedom” which sounds good who doesn’t like freedom? But conservatives follow anyone that carries a flag and shouts freedom without any scepticism. That is why I appreciate people like Bartlett and Stockman who both realize that they were wrong and want to admit and perhaps make amends.

  • Dnadanyi

    Clinton made a big mistake by believing Alan Greenspan.  He should have listened to Brooksley Born regarding derivitives.  He also is responsible for letting Rubin coax him into repealing the Glass Steagall act. Big mistake. G.W. Bush and Cheney were unbeliveable even throwinng their Tresury secrectary under the bus when he told them that the US could not afford to privatize Soc Sec. Their Iraq war was a huge lie. It was primarily designed to create a free trade zone. ca-ching.

  • Dnadanyi

    Yes the biggest transfer of wealth has taken place in this recent recession-even our Congress was betting against our stocks with their insider information. Unfortunately it continues worldwide-why?

  • Billwilson1804

    Refreshing to see some reflection.

  • Rcormier15

    Bill Moyers,

    You are doing more to enlighten the American people than any journalist I have ever watched.This is just another great program highlighting what is wrong with our country. I love this country but am concerned.
    I applaud your efforts and sincerely hope your work motivates the American People to “Wake Up”. Clearly the Occupy Wall Street movement is not executing the correct strategy to effect change but it is a step in the right direction.
    Our country needs a voice/strategy that can drive the changes that are needed to re-position our country and that will benefit ALL American’s.
    I remain optimistic that this can be accomplished in an intelligent and effective way. I am not sure I am seeing this from either party or candidate but am hopeful.
    Every American needs to see your complete series of work on the economy that you have been producing because I have no doubt that if they take the time to watch, listen and process it will motivate them and  lead to positive change.
    The 90% can make a difference if they have the right strategy and leadership. Would that person please step forward now?

    Thank you


    Give the psychoconservative jesufascist right wing what it wants – zero taxes, zero regulation and zero ponzi like social security. They may laugh at octogenerian squeegeepreneurs staggering out into traffic with their walkers but among the tens of millions of starving people will be some savage monsters who will climb in through their windows and eat their faces.

    Justice may be late sometimes but it always arrives.

  • jayhawk

    the facts still have not presented themselves!!  I have written to Bill numerous times about Private Equity and to 60 minutes, but no coverage….Even PBS thinks they serve some great purpose.  The Financial Times reports that in 2012-2016  Leveraged Buyout loans mature.  We may see defaults around 800 billion.  Many media outlets are owned by private equity whoooooo get tax breaks from borrowing 60-80% of the companies value, they charge millions in managment fees(which is about equal to the equity they invest) (with no expertise in the companies they acquire) they ask for 20-30% of profits in which they pay only capital gains.  They pay dividends to investors out of borrowed $.  And the pension investors take the hit if things go south and the govt. picks up the tab because they have guaranteed 8-10% return to pensions.  If the fund goes broke…do we lowere the guaranteed rate of return? Nope, Mitt Romney might get less for Clear Channel and Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mike Savage etc.  So they will just ask teachers to pay more into their pensions!

  • John Bailo

    The only reason these guys are pressing for “more taxes” is so they can get a cut of it in subsidies now that the financial boom has come to a halt.

  • RP2012

    One of the biggest things Barlett said that some will miss is the toxic role that Fox news uses to perpetrate their rhetoric no matter how wrong.  Today’s conservatives push their ideology through religion and people do the very dangerous thing of having as much faith and trust in them as they do their pastor, when the two are nothing alike.  Their isn’t a fox news listener that can tell me one thing about any of the following:  the patriot act (that violates are civil liberties), the wasted 1 billion dollar compound in Iraq (let alone the 2 trillion we wasted over there), tax cuts for the rich that did nothing except increase their net worth at the same time unemployment continued to rise, the exposing of Valarie Plaim because her husband found no WMD’s and the list goes on.  (read a John W. Deam book for verification). These people will do anything to further their own bigoted agenda no matter what the cost to the american tax payer.   These are the same people that will tell you the real problem is everything else (welfare, SS, etc)  but the military industrial complex and lobbyist involvement.  Don’t get me wrong welfare needs regulated to limit abuse but I’m really getting sick and tired of these &*@# conservatives that take zero blame and point the fingers at everything and everyone else when their agenda is just as bad if not worse.

  • Conniegoggins

    You do realize that Bruce Bartlett was economic advisor for the most exalted one of conservatives and GOP – Ronald Reagan? When Pres Obama says Reagan could not get elected in GOP primary today – HE IS NOT KIDDING. The Republican Party has veered off into the right wing wasteland and now would not support compromises which Ronald Reagan’s economic advisor says are necessary.


  • luvcats13

    Capitalism and greed worked fine UNTIL corporations started moving middle class, blue collar jobs overseas. Now we can just accept that most Americans have to substantially lower their standards of living for generations while the wealthy and big corps get richer and richer from the fruits of foreign labor, OR we can continue to recognize that the federal government has a significant role in commerce for the greater good of all Americans, and in guaranteeing our rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Also, for many reasons, a flat tax is very harmful to promoting a vibrant middle class. Since I believe middle class is backbone of America, I strongly support a progressive tax system. Think of it this way – a flat tax allows wealthy families to pass on inherited wealth in greater amounts to each successive generation, since low income and most middle income families aren’t able to provide heirs with large inheritance. With each generation, the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer”, until the gap is so large, there are no financial opportunities for anyone other than a small oligarchy. In past history, this leads to a revolution of the masses over the oligarchy. Progressive public policy in a vibrant democracy can even out large disparities by using tax dollars (taken in larger % from wealthy) to provide opportunities for everyone to get good education, to provide infrastructure, to provide R&D $, to provide start-up loans & grants, to provide health insurance, etc. so that we all have a fair shot and aren’t stuck in poverty for generations.

  • Therightmixx

    “If people need any more concrete explanation of this, start with the staff of life, a loaf of bread. The simplest thing; the poorest man must have it. Well, there are 151 taxes now in the price of a loaf of bread — it accounts for more than half the cost of a loaf of bread. It begins with the first tax, on the farmer that raised the wheat…” – President Ronald Reagan 

  • Alohajonny

    He sure sounds like an Obama supporter now doesn’t he??

  • Alohajonny


  • Greg Price

    The only reason we haven’t seen this in the US is because the US Left, unlike the US Right, hates guns.

  • Juno1721

    I would have bet that Milton Friedman in his TV series back in the late 1970’s gave rise to the entire basis of the Republican Party, enduring to this day.

    Milton Friedman later married Ayn Rand after they died – presided over by the Lord or the Devil ( I’ll find Harry Houdini and write you back when I find out)

    Hong Kong is Friedman’s vision of social Paradise: for Ayn Rand it was the jungle.

  • Philthy

    I am a news junkie. I have read the Times, the Post and McClatchy online every day for at least 12 years. Never heard of ALEC before Bill’s show. I knew 26 States had enacted Stand Your Ground laws and many were pushing anti-union statutes but didn’t have a clue why the US was veering so… retro. Also, why did I have to read a British paper, The GUardian, to learn about the 3 inmates confined to solitary for 40 years at Angola?
    Thx Bill.

  • Douglas J.

    Well done Bill and thank you Bruce. I had forgotten what civil civic dialogue could sound like. When we all share the responsibility of the current us vs. them climate in the U.S. and begin to demand appropriate measures for what we are willing to have and not what we say we want, then we will see a shift in our government. Government is only an extension of what we are willing to accept. Using REALITY to inform our decisions rather than our concepts of reality is a great place to start. If you dont vote…start and if you do vote… stop voting against your own best interests.

  • Chess

    Cut Medicare? Seriously? Let’s just go ahead and kill everyone over 70. That way we don’t have to worry about all those greedy old people living so high on the hog.