Your Humble Blogger Discusses the Fiscal Cliff with Bill Moyers and Bruce Bartlett

I had fun in this conversation with conservative Bruce Bartlett, even though he stole some of my best lines (like Obama not being a liberal). Bartlett is in exile from the Republican party for saying things like Keynesian deficits stimulate the economy (after doing research and finding he couldn’t debunk it based on data) and unions help promote higher wages.

The hope was to provide information to a generalist audience about fiscal cliff fearmongering. If you think we succeeded, I hope you’ll see fit to circulate this video widely.

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  1. skippy


    Granted, these small talks are limited in scope – detail, yet your articulate, relaxed, poised, interaction with both the people next to you and the camera… well… you’ve come a long way baby.

    I wonder if – any – MSM venue would allow you on set, you would bludgeon them both intellectually and via personal projection. Not that you would be interested in that kinda thingy (its still, a little bit of palliative mental zen for us lumpen).

    Skippy… your one of last bright spots in a ocean of obfuscation, lies, criminal act with forethought, malicious hate against ones own species, still out there. Thank you for your service, its dully noted… I have and do sing your praises, damn near daily, to any mind I can find.

    PS. Are you getting younger?

      1. Martskers

        ABSOLUTELY NOT! I will not have it. Yves is OURS, and we will not share her with those great vampire squids (sorry, Matt) at the MSM. In fact, I very much worry that Yves’ increasing success will spoil her, if it hasn’t already.

        Yves: don’t change a hair for me…

      2. craazyman

        Some macro version of the immortal Chuck Berris’s Gong Show would work.

        That was a pleasure of my youth.

        You could bring on a guest of some sort and as soon as they start spouting nonsense Yves takes out a mallet and slams a big Gong and the guest gets catapulted backwards from the chair by a powerful coiled spring mechanism in the chair’s seat (of course safely landing on a large inflated cushion behind the chair).

        The guest can come back and continue the interview if they admit they were either bullshitting or were totally wrong about their facts or logic. it’s already cracking me up.

        There could be a three ejection limit. After that, they’re escorted out by security. Of course, they can come back at a later date and try again on another show.

        I bet politicians would line up for this. The PR could be incredible. Just waiving the mallet would put the guest on bullshit alert and keep their position honest.

        The audience could place bets on how long the guest would last before the gong. They could broadcast this from New York, I have no doubt about it.

    1. Greg R

      I agree completely. Young NFL quarterbacks say that after the first couple years, the “game slows down” and they become more effective. That sure looks like what has happened with you. They should be lined up around the block trying to get you on their shows, forums, etc.

    2. psychohistorian

      I am doing my bit to make that video go viral.

      Be and stay well Yves. As I said elsewhere, you are a national treasure.

  2. denim

    Thank you for streaming an excellent program. Many others have noticed the right winger in the White House, like Paul Krugman:
    Obama looks centrist only because Fred Koch’s John Birch Society of the Barry Goldwater era is masquerading as the Republican Party. And not coincidentally, it is being significantly manipulated by Fred Koch’s geriatric sons, the Koch brothers of today.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      Many others have noticed the right winger in the White House, like Paul Krugman:

      Yes, but. Krugman still can’t bring himself to acknowledge that it’s a feature and not a bug, and has been from the get-go.

  3. Stephanie

    Fabulous. I really enjoy these made-for-tv discussions, which usually end up being less wonky than the pages of NC (I sometimes have a rough time making sense of the econ talk here). And, how refreshing…and even empowering…to be able to listen to, and understand, such a deeply informed discussion.

  4. LucyLulu

    Awesome video, cheering all the way through. But are you sure that Bartlett is a conservative? The Democratic Party could use a few conservatives like him to move them to the left. Conservatives that I know would string him up in the town square for committing heresy.

    I have to admit, I agree with Bartlett about being willing to settle for the permanent sequester deal. No doubt it will be better than the deal we end up stuck with. He’s right that it is the only way the defense budget will get trimmed, and I’d rather pay more taxes than stoop to stealing the modest nest egg the elderly were promised after working a lifetime and making contributions to pay for.

    We’ve heard since 2010 that jobs would be focused on like a laser. Jobs, jobs, jobs. The only jobs that have been created are in the armed forces. 400 troops deployed to the Turkey-Syrian border to operate the patriot missile launchers and missiles we donated. Not a peep of concern over how we will pay for this next military adventure?

    Are we busted on some days of the month and not others? The government budget really isn’t like a household budget, is it? They use their own condition-predicated arithmetic, where some spending counts towards debt, and other spending doesn’t.

      1. Ray Duray

        Similarly, David Frum is a rational (albeit normally selfish) conservative. He makes a lot of sense.

        For those who are unfamiliar with KCRW’s “Left, Right & Center” program, it is another oasis in the swamps of mindless media we swim through:

        Frum represents “The Right” this week on the program. I must admit however, that it is Robert Scheer’s steadfast sanity from the “Left” that is the real draw for me on this program.

        I’m reminded of John Kenneth Galbraith whenever I am informed of “decent” men/women on the Right:

        “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

        1. Aquifer

          Robert Scheer? The quintessential lesser of 2 evils Robert Scheer from Truth Dig? THAT Robert Scheer? I stopped reading him some time ago ….

    1. Carla

      Maybe I missed it, and I’m sure NC readers will correct me if I did, but I didn’t hear either Bruce OR Yves mention that the permanent sequester would NOT TOUCH MEDICARE OR SOCIAL SECURITY.

      Now, if I am wrong about the sequester, please correct me. And if either Bruce or Yves mentioned that, please holler at me.

      My understanding is that the so-called permanent sequester would cut all areas of government spending by 10% EXCEPT Social Security and Medicare. I’m not sure about Medicaid, because with Obamacare, who the heck knows?

      Can anyone shed light on this? Thanks in advance….

  5. AbyNormal

    repeatedly i asked myself why was Bartlett present…still no answer.

    Your iconic Yves…for years my trusted compass.

    1. Aquifer

      Maybe Bill wanted to demonstrate that “even” folks on the Right think Wash is going off the deep end in constructing this imaginary cliff or perhaps he wanted to have one of their own name the lie of Obama being a liberal – THAT is one myth it would be enormously useful to dispel, though some of us have been saying that for quite some time now …

      But that brings up another issue …

      I find it quite amusing that folks are jumping on the “Obama is not a liberal” bandwagon when the vast majority of criticism from the “left” has been that he is the quintessential “liberal” – the repres. of the “bourgeoisie”, the handmaidens of the 1%, the wolf in sheep’s clothing – that liberalism, or progressivism, for that matter, was/is an empty costume useful for projecting a sympathetic “persona” for the “masses” while simultaneously stabbing them in their nether parts ….

      Some time ago Hedges wrote a devastating critique of how the liberals were guilty of performing such handmaidenly chores – but I was left wondering whether the critique was of liberalism, per se, or of “liberals” who had betrayed it.

      So Obama a) was never a “liberal” (as despised by both the Right AND the politically correct Left), b) was once a “liberal” but no more, having thrown off the sheepskin, or c) still is that despised “liberal” handmaiden of the 1%? And if he isn’t a “liberal”, what is he?

      I mention this as someone who calls myself a prog or liberal who would never think of embracing someone like Obama, or Clinton or most of those other whatever-they-ares, but who, nonetheless, ipso facto, is often marginalized because i don’t recite from the correct lefty catechism, or sing from the correct lefty hymnal …

      So let us decide – is Obama a “liberal” or not? When we want to critique him for being a total schmuck, what is now the “politically correct” term?

      1. rob

        I also feel obama is the same as he was.He had written an article for “Foreign affairs”,back in early 2008,as several party candidates did,that were being vetted for “electability”.Obama, (or at least whoever ghostwrote it for him?)was an obvious waterboy for the establishment.A true ,while I can’t say whether he is a liberal or not,the term “neo-liberal”does seem to fit.In the sense I am coming around to the use of this term;for me to equate them as the democratic parties equivalent of “neo-con”.
        Personally,I prefer “schmuck”

      2. Wat Tyler

        This isn’t rocket science, one just needs to be old enough to remember “Rockefeller Republicians” (named after Nelson). I never understood why being remarried to the delightful “Happy” would discredit him from being a candidate but I suspect that was a conservative ploy in favor of the idiot Goldwater. At the time fiscal moderates like Rockefeller were mainstream Republicians – now they are independents or (like the President and me for that matter) Democrats.

        The former President that most reminds me of Mr. Obama is Gerald Ford who ,like Obama, was despised by Conservatives.


  6. GDC707

    Good job all around. I like how Moyers’ knows to keep quiet when his guests are on a good roll. And you guys were definitely hitting the right points.

  7. Richard Kline

    My take on the ‘fiscal cliff?’ The Republicans have built a temple of Mammon, climbed out on the highest ledge, and are screaming to all horizons they’ll do the long dive unless all Americans worship their god. And I’m down below (a little to the side) shouting “Jump, JUMP!” as loud as I can.

    And on Bruce Bartlett, he had a long confessional biographical article on the web recently recounting how the Republican Party had left him, a genuine conservative, in the dust on the way to Bizarro Flats. In that, he used the “Obama is not a liberal” line, and I thought then, Yves, that he _must_ have stolen it from you. But that aside, his confessional was actually a fascinating read to anyone who’s inclined to track it down. Yes, he talks about himself entirely too much (although it is autobiographical), but it’s a patent demonstration of the lunacy that has overtaken the Goppers. And it is interesting to watch someone of strong ideological persuasion walk you through their complete repudiation of the foundations of their prior beliefs, in print. I particularly liked the part where, after casting stones at Keyenes for his entire career as a factionary, Bartlett actually *cough* read him and the history books for the first time (!) and realized that Keynes had not only been right, his methods had worked. There’s something to be said for intellectual honesty while looking oneself in the mirror . . . .

    1. Dirk77

      A good ref on Keynes, Richard (or anyone for that matter)? I did take Econ in college but I suppose I got the usual crap. Thanks.

    2. Carla

      Oh, for God’s sake, R.K., anyone who’s paid attention for 10 minutes over the last 5 years knows Obama’s not, and never was, a liberal.

      1. Richard Kline

        Carla should you get back to read this, you are obviously _very_ late to the party and have no idea of where I’ve stood on Obama. For the record, I was telling folks in January _2008_ that not only was Obama not a liberal, by his voting record to that point, his proposals, and his visuals, his ‘heros’ (Reagan?), or his temperament, but also that he would of a certainty sell out liberals and leftists who voted for him. I’ve never been on his wagon, and tried to get others off since before he was more than a smear on the country’s reputation. If you care to root around in archives _of this blog_ from that time, you’ll find remarks from me to that effect throughout the 2008 campaign. So please, you’ve got the wrong guy. Yves knows where I’ve stood, and I felt no need to bloviate for those late to the show.

    3. BenP

      “There’s something to be said for intellectual honesty while looking oneself in the mirror . . .”

      Indeed. Also in this vain is excellent Jeremiah Goulka. Tomsdispatch hosts him here.

      After reading his essays/confessionals I feel like I understand modern conservatives in a whole new light. I always assumed there was a healthy amount of willful obtuseness at the heart of the ideology. But he changed my view, the ignorance seems more genuine than I ever assumed.

    4. bob

      ” are screaming to all horizons they’ll do the long dive unless all Americans worship their god. And I’m down below (a little to the side) shouting “Jump, JUMP!” as loud as I can.”

      It’s a mob scene. Mobs do not make great decisions. Mobs often do make martyrs.

      The whole framing of this “debate” was hijacked. The debate itself is a persistent logic poision with at least two goals- confuse and alieniate.

  8. rob

    Great interview,Yves.
    Thanks to Yves, for being a rational voice.
    Thanks to Bill Moyers for getting rational voices out to the public.

  9. Sufferin' Succotash

    Excellent job by all concerned. Especially the “fiscal slope” metaphor. You and Bartlett together would make a first-rate Brain Trust for a Democratic President–if we had one.

    1. Aquifer

      We HAVE a Democrat Pres., we just don’t have a democratic one – they stopped having a passing resemblance to each other a long time ago

  10. Ep3

    Hazah! Great job yves!

    One thing I would add is regarding your comment about how everyone so thinks inside a bubble of the self. I would add how short term thinking has taken over all decisions. Investment is postponed because there is no short term benefit. For example, the housing or stock bubble. Persons could get in for a short time, make a ton of money, and then had to be smart enough to get out before things crashed. So from the stock bubble you move to the housing bubble, then you jump to the next bubble. You get in, make your money, and get out. With no care about the aftermath. If it destroys the environment, ppl’s lives, who cares. They weren’t as smart as u, the individual. So then success is based upon that. And it also starts a fantasy. “anybody could become wealthy, its just so easy, and if you didn’t, it was because u were lazy or dumb”. I like to reinforce that myth about the person who bought a 5 cent pack of baseball cards in 1910 and didn’t open them and threw them in a shoe box. Until they are found in 2012 by a family member and lo and behold, one was a babe Ruth rookie card in mint condition. Then ppl think “I could get rich doing that too. If that only cost 5 cents, I could spend $1000 and find 20 rookie cards.”. Yet most ppl don’t have disposable income to make such a gamble. And most kids aren’t going to spend their hard earned allowance and not open it to play with it. Or “I bought 2 shares of Walmart in 1980 and now I am a millionaire”. Maybe most ppl didn’t have the inside information or the $40 to buy that stock. Maybe in 1980 they were buying Atari stock.
    Again, Greg job yves

  11. from Mexico

    The Democratic Party’s “pay to play” policy was news to me.

    It is identical to the practice of selling public office that began in Latin America in the 17th century and that has largely survived intact until today:

    In Peru…high-ranking treasury offices began to be offered for sale on a systematic basis from 1633… While the sale of offices proved to be a highly profitable source of revenue, it was acquired at a heavy political price… Large sums were diverted into private pockets by corrupt officials, and viceroys watched in despair as the sale of office drastically reduced both the efficiency of the administration and their own powers….

    The purchase of offices…and informal alliances struck with corrupt royal officials for the clandestine distribution of state resources, enabled oligarchies throughout Spanish America to entrench themselves still further. By the middle of the seventeenth century the crown was putting provincial governorships up for sale, and under Carlos II the last dam was breached when the crown began systematically selling the judicial posts in the eleven Audencias of the Indies. Between 1687 and 1695, 24 such sales occurred, 18 of them in the jurisdiction of Peru. The control of justice as well as administration was beginning to slip from the hands of Madrid.
    — J.H. ELLIOTT, Empires of the Atlantic World

    1. Aquifer

      From my understanding it works something like this – if you want to be on a committee, you have to raise X amount for the party, if you want to be chairman you have to raise a hell of a lot …

    2. rob

      I too,thought this was an interesting point.I imagined a “less formal”arrangement.If it is something that is “openly done”.Are there records?
      Does this mean that elizabeth warren’s campaign,paid?And how much?.And what about everyone else.Is there a “heading” for this “donation” in any ledger?

  12. sk

    A very good discussion by all.
    This guy, Bruce Bartlett, seems like a very sensible and smart person, perhaps one of the few Republicans, like Ron Paul, with a live and functioning brain.

    I am just wondering what will happens if someone (perhaps Republicans), instead of increasing to 67, insist on DROPPING the Medicare eligibility age to 50. It will really bury Obama and his scams and that is what is needed.

    1. Aquifer

      LOL – the Reps would like to do away with SS/Med altogether, not increase eligibility, so they are thrilled that the Dems are incresingly joining them in this demolition derby ….

  13. from Mexico

    The comments about brainwashing reminded me of James Baldwin’s observation that Negroes “dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing.” People are so brainwashed they don’t even know it.

    Blacks, however, now seem to have met a similar fate.

    In The Power Principle the filmmaker Scott Noble explores the phenomenon: Propaganda that is so effective that people are not even aware of their own brainwashing. He cites the case of a Soviet team of propagandists that came to the United States. They were awestruck by how complete the success of the scientific “engineering of consent” had been in the US.

    As Noble explains:

    The United States does not have a free press.

    I use the term “free press” not in the legalistic sense, ie freedom from state oppression (though occasionally that applies in the US as well) but in the manner of Orwell. In the preface to Animal Farm he wrote — “The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary…Things are kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervenes but because of a general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact.”

    Peter Phillips from Project Censored argues that the primary difference between corporate media in the US and state media in the Soviet Union is that in the latter case the public understood that they were being propagandized. Many Americans continue to suffer under the delusion that the programming on CNN or ABC or PBS or even Fox is something akin to hard-hitting journalism.

    The United States once had a very strong and vibrant labor press. During the Cold War, anti-Communist hysteria and government repression severely marginalized dissident voices, paving the way for the neo-liberal counter-revolution.

    The segment of The Power Principle that deals with propaganda can be seen on the internet here:

    1. Abe, NYC

      Well, yes. Having experienced the Soviet and US propaganda firsthand, I generally agree with this assessment.

      But not all is lost for traditional media, witness this very program. For all its faults, PBS is often one of the few voices of sanity in this country. No wonder Romney wanted to scrap its funding.

      1. rob

        the only quiblle I would have with that is:
        I would seperate Bill Moyer’s program from much of what PBS,does.Most of their news programing is as “skewed” as the rest of the media.Just with more detail.I would say they tend be a lower layer from the onion.But Bill moyers, in the first decade of this century;did superb stories.
        His story about the pharma industry VS the state of maine,which could have derailed our prescrition drug amendment to medicare,in the “deal”for the pharma industry.It was the only place I saw that angle covered.
        His story about the gasoline scandal of 2005.Where he covered the refining industry memo’s in the late 90’s, about them not liking the 8% returns they were making on investment.And decided to “cut supply”, and cause artificial shortages.He covered the truth about the 50 or so refineries that were shut down,over the next 10 years. the independant refiners who were put out of business by the Ameican petroleum institutes lobbying to get EPA regulations passed(as they did in california).WHich ironically has become an example of the “right” pointing out times when big bad gov’t passed EPA regulations which put out of business real companies…It just doesn’t stop..because 7 years later, we still are overpaying for gas.Billions of dollars out of the pocket of every american driver/family,which instead should have gone to “stimulate” the economy.
        But Bill Moyer’s personally,is one of the few “real” journalists allowed on any popular media outlet.

        1. Abe, NYC

          There is a lot of crap at PBS, I don’t dispute that. But Moyers’ is not the only good show at PBS. Many of the Frontline programs I’ve seen are very good.

          1. Yves_Fan

            Washington Week completed punted and avoided any real discussion regarding the withdrawal of Susan Rice’s hoped-for nomination. The NYT guy had the ball, and gave 3 completely BS answers. Punting on all three downs You need to read Glenn Greenwald or NakedCapitalism to find truth.

            Susan Rice bailed because the true left was willing to expose her oil industry ties and the war-mongering past. And she didn’t want her BS image to be tainted with the truth about her.

            PBS – Major FAIL, NYT – MAJOR FAIL, Washington Post – MAJOR FAIL, CBS – MAJOR FAIL

            MSNBC Melissa Harris-Perry, Sunday 12-16 – MAJOR MAJOR FAIL

            Funny seeing pseudo-lefties defending a war mongering multimillionaire liar.

            Read Glenn Greenwald:

            Susan Rice is to the right of Obama even, and we almost had her as SoS along with Repulican Chuck Hagel as SoD (which is still expected).

            The Republican millionaires have 100% co-opted the Democratic Party, and the left is still in denial.

  14. Doug Terpstra

    Excellent show, Yves. Bartlett’s “stealing” your line (Obama is conservative) was actually the perfect net setup for your slam, aimed well “to the right of Nixon”.

    Later you say, “This is where Obama wants to go!” Exactly. Obama cries loudly: “Please don’t throw me into that briar patch. I won’t go, I won’t, I can’t. Do anything you want, just don’t throw me in there.” His game of deception is now so simple, worn-out and tiresome, it’s amazing that veal pen liberals still pretend not to see it.

  15. Aquifer

    Ha, ha, I’d love to see Yves and Mary Matalin on the same show – that’d be worth at least 2 bowls of popcorn and several bags of peanuts ….

    1. optimader

      Ha, ha, I’d love to see Yves and Mary Matalin on the same show – that’d be worth at least 2 bowls of popcorn and several bags of peanuts ….

      Mary Matalin is at best just a tired and predictable propaganda cipher. No point

  16. diptherio

    I think this Bennett fellow may have a ‘thing’ for you, Ms. Smith ;)

    Really good, overall. I have to admit to cringing once though. Bennett got the last word in, and it was some nonsense about needing to “fix” the debt in the long term. Sigh…well, you gotta start somewhere.

    And I have to admit, I was unaware of the Dem’s “pay to play,” system although, having spent a number of years working on the fringes of the liberal political scene, I’m not at all surprised. Most politicians above the municipal level, in my experience, are incredibly cynical, jaded people. Everyone knows what the score is and a person is seen as naive and idealistic if they even attempt to struggle against it.

  17. Accrued Disinterest

    Eureka!! Paying a higher wage leads to higher wages?!! OMG!

    I hope Bartlett didn’t spend too much time in the library researching that hypothesis.

  18. craazyman

    It’s going from a cliff to a slope. I bet it goes from a slope to a swamp. Then they’ll throw so much Fed money at it it’ll become a lake or even a sea.

    The Fiscal Sea. It sounds like a place on the Moon that you’d look at through a telescope where a space ship would land. A place that shines like a white rock.

    Most people just ignore the moon. When was the last time anybody looked at the moon? Not recently, or if they did it was just a glance while driving around running errands.

    There are so many ways to see things, that make sense. It cracks me up.

    Mr. Moyers needs a fireplace in the background. There’s an electric fireplace for sale at PC Richard’s for $99. It works really well. I bought one and don’t regret it at all.

      1. Aquifer

        Do you power it with solar, or windmill, or hamster?

        I understand Lambert uses hamsters, at least that’s what i figured when he said we should “think of the hamsters” in his request for funding, so maybe you could check with him and see how well that is working ….

    1. Aquifer

      craazy – i am a big fan of the moon – I thank it on a regular basis for sticking around this crazy planet, but apparently nor enough folks have been doing this because i understand it is slowly but surely leaving …..

  19. Susan the other

    Yves and Bartlett were of a mind. Bartlett was a little more willing to make cuts in “entitlements’ which made me nervous because he was otherwise right on. The thing that gets me is that people in this country don’t pay much attention to the mess Greece is in with its austerity death spiral. I think Bernanke would buy every bond for the next ten years if he could prevent it. Unfortunately, we have to deal with Congress. And all the pundits who get on TV and behave like they have the answer: austerity – for lack of a better word.

  20. Pelham

    Excellent discussion. Thanks.

    Yves spoke of the “noblesse oblige” that prevailed decades ago, and I don’t doubt it was true at the time. But I also don’t doubt that capitalism inevitably and irreversibly tends toward dispensing with any such sense and replacing it with entirely unrestrained rapaciousness. The motive is always there, as are the opportunity and human nature itself (plus the documented tendency toward highly functional psychopathology among those in the financial/corporate leader class).

    Therefore, we, the 99%, should never lean on the thin reed that the conscience of our so-called betters may provide at intervals in history and instead replace actually existing global capitalism with a human system that makes certain these financial and corporate boffins are forever utterly and securely subject to our will, the will of the majority, rather than the other way around.

  21. casino implosion

    Yves needs her own TV show. The spectacle of a person who looks like a central casting Connecticut yacht-club WASP ice-queen but talks as Yves does is priceless.

    Bartlett’s rationality and demeanour are seductive to liberals used to the right wing bombthrowers of late, but the guy flat out denies the existence of the Southern Strategy—he wrote a book about it–and I can’t take him seriously because of that.

    1. Aquifer

      “The spectacle of a person who looks like a central casting Connecticut yacht-club WASP ice-queen but talks as Yves does is priceless”

      LOL – the hit of the day …

  22. Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

    It was shocking to hear her say, “There are times when taxes can fund productive investment which can lead to economic growth.” If she is talking about federal taxes, she is 100% wrong.

    Federal taxes fund nothing. The federal government became Monetarily Sovereign on August 15, 1971. Since that date, the government neither has needed nor has used tax dollars to pay for anything. If federal taxes fell to $0, this would not affect the government’s ability to spend — forever.

    Federal taxes (unlike state and local taxes) are destroyed upon receipt and serve only to impoverish the private sector. I had thought she knew that, and perhaps later in the interview she corrects herself, but when she said that monstrous lie, I tuned her out.

    1. Aquifer

      Well, well, it appears you pass your MMT course with flying colors … But you do fail to give due credit to the power of taxation as incentive for something we wish to encourage, as in deduction for charity, or as deterrent for something we wish to discourage, as in smoking. Are such taxes OK with you?

      As for being a source of revenue, you ignore the very real dynamic that once a person has “paid” for, or “invested in” something they do indeed feel “entitled” to it and are much more likely to insist on getting it, ala SS/Medicare – FDR/Johnson understood that a hell of a lot better than MMTers seem to … It is much harder to take something away from, or fail to deliver to, someone who has “skin in the game” – it’s instinctive, it’s in our DNA, ask the chimps …

      Once the only motivation to pay taxes is to avoid jail time, you think you are seeing avoidance schemes now? Ha, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. Believe it or not there are a lot of folks out here, including myself, who believe we have a duty to pay taxes to “fund” the society we are a part of, and by the same token to at least take some passing interest in what the gov’ts are doing with “our” money, but if the Feds just “destroy” those tax monies, then why are we paying them? And it is no great leap to go from there to “why are we even paying state and local taxes? If the ‘monetary sovereign’ can pay for the works without taxes, let the ‘monetary sovereign’ pay for the whole shebang!” In your world view “willing taxpayers” are, at best, horribly deluded and, at worst, plain ole’ “suckers” – but take that away and methinks you will not like what you get ….

      I say again – be careful what you ask for for you will surely get it …

      So yes indeed “taxes can fund productive investment” and I feel strongly they “damn well should” not just for the “I am a member of society and i want to see the benefits for me, mine and all” reason, but for the “I am paying for them and i better get ’em!” reason as well …. The more “reasons” we have for pressuring our gov’t to clean up its act, the better off we are, IMO …

      At this point i am really beginning to wonder if the obvious, to me at least, ramifications of destroying the idea of “taxes as funding” are bugs, or features, of MMT …

    2. Lambert Strether

      It’s true that taxes don’t fund spending, but I’ve fallen into the same verbal error myself, and I know better. So I think “monstrous lie” is a bit over the top. Eh?

      1. skippy

        The one thing constantly left out, is MMT at the moment, is conditional on the global market environment.

        The *Autonomous* Monetarily Sovereign – is a – in house – declaration, it does not reflect its power in perpetuity over other nation states ad infinity. It could be reasonably argued that MMT is a tax on the world – without[!!!] representation – snicker…

    3. different clue

      I admire your persistence in repeating yourself on MMTT.
      Keep re-repeating it often enough and you might lure me into thinking about your Modern Monetary Tinker Toy.

        1. different clue

          A wise old Indian once said: When the last salmon is fished from the last river, then the White Man will learn he can’t eat money. But good luck with your belief in the importance of Modern Moneytary Theory and its invitation to confuse money with wealth. It isn’t the first Moneytary theory which invited people to do that.

          1. different clue

            Money is just a symbolic representation of wealth and only as long as people take it that way. And people could very well take it that way . . . harvesting and extracting raw wealth substrate and processing it into wealth to exchange for money until the wealth is gone. When there is nothing left for the money to be “worth”, then the money is “worthless”. If the Modern Moneytary Theory government issues enough money to encourage enough people to buy all the salmon that all the salmon fishers can catch and sell, the catchers will catch and sell all the salmon down to the last one, and then the Modern Munny will be worthless in terms of salmon, because there will be no more salmon for Modern Munny to be worth. It won’t stop with salmon. The process-drivers will drive the process all the way down to menhaden, capelin, alewives, krill.

            When the last krill is strained from the Antarctic Ocean, and the last Asian Carp is strained from the last Chicago Shipping Canal, then what do the Modern Monetary Theorists expect anyone to be able to buy with all the Modern Money they can print or emit? Why would printing money into existence be any more expected to conjure wealth into existence any more than lending money into existence?

            I hope to sort myself out enough one of these days to be able to build some real-world subsistence-survivalism for myself. I wonder if I will need to keep a “round in the chamber” for any starving Modern Monetary Theorist who discovers my not-well-hidden-enough presence and demands that I sell him some of my FOOD in return for some of his “MUNNY”.

          2. Aquifer

            dc – when i posted that the question was to Lambert re

            “giving credit to MMT advocates for the ability to sort out who’s impervious to reason and who isn’t?”

            (I have noticed that there seems to be a delay in posting comments – ones that weren’t there when i hit “reply” seem to appear before i hit “submit” – doesn’t make sense, but seems to happen often enough that I had better preface each reply with name of person to whom it is addressed ….)

          3. different clue

            Curse these subsidiary comment-loading time lag delays.
            I think Mr. Strether was trying to get my goat because he knows how sensitive I am.

          4. Aquifer

            dc – I didn’t know to whom he was referring, as i have my issues with MMT as well, which is why i asked him to “‘splain” ….

  23. Crazy Horse

    Every time I here the phrase “fiscal cliff” it calls to mind a physical cliff with 1,000 General Motors SUV’s lined up awaiting their turn at a “Thelma & Louise” moment. The lead SUV is driven by Obummer with Boner as passenger, and Timmy Geithner and Jamie Dimon are close behind followed by 4,000 other deserving banksters democratically selected for their contribution to the real financial cliff they have created for the working people of the country.

  24. Conscience of a Conservative

    Republicans vs Democrats:
    The fight is not about how to be fiscally prudent. It is about whose vision of government goes forward. Democrats want the government to be more expansive, Republicans the opposite. Understand that and everything else falls in place.
    When Krugman argues for fiscal stimuls its not because he believes htat will save the economy its because he believes government should have a large role in the economy.

    1. rob

      That is 100% ,garbage.
      There is no”democrats,want this” and/or “republicans,want that”.Both of those are the lie that is perpetuated by this duopoly that masquerades as a system of opposites.They both want the same thing.
      that about sums up what both parties want,they just have to whistle different tunes while getting it.Surely, we are past believeng that lie.

    2. Aquifer

      Well there may be a very pragmatic reason as well – we’d like SOMEBODY to save the economy, and the private sector seems not only to be failing rather miserably in that endeavor but good chunks of it seem to have been responsible for putting it in the crapper in the first place …

      The gov’t has demonstrated an ability to provide productive employment which so many folks and “the economy”, whatever that is, need more of right now, so what is your problem with letting it do more of that now?

    3. ReaderOfTeaLeaves

      The GOP has offered the same so-called solutions to political economy for at least 30 years now. It is simplistic, nostalgic, and harkens back to at least the 1770s. It obsessed on taxes, as Bartlett points out around 18:10 in the clip.

      The past 30 years have seen automation, personal computing and networks, a digital economic sector, molecular medicine, and many other shifts. It has also been a period of emerging tax havens, offshoring, and financial manipulations that started with Long Term Cap Management, and gave rise to bailout culture. These shifts raise questions about how an economy actually functions today.

      Given these factors, the social safety net has corroded, while inequality has escalated. Within this context, the GOP continues to act as if the key factor uneconomic growth and development is taxes. But that is an erroneous misconception.

      The Dems have to figure out how to respond to a changing world, but the GOP seems incapable of even attempting the effort. The GOP does not appear to grapple with deeper structural issues, which leaves them vulnerable to economic fairy tales, a la Romney. Sad, really.

    4. different clue

      Republicans want the Department of Defense to be more expansive. They want the Department of Homeland Security to be more expansive. They probably want every other part of government they can work as a conduit-passthrough for tax money to make rich people richer to be more expansive.

    5. Doug Terpstra

      CoC, you honestly think there’s a meaningful difference between duopoly parties? And that no useful purpose is served by investment in the commonwealth (bridges,roads, schools, health, science, etc.) unless it is done by and for private profit? Once upon a time I really thought you were smarter than a tribal troll.

  25. RFF

    Thanks for your reference to Phaedra. Here is an excerpt from Lee Hazlewood’s masterpiece “Some Velvet Morning”: Some velvet mornin’ when I’m straight, I’m gonna open up your gate, And maybe tell you’bout Phaedra, And how she gave me life, And how she made it end, Some velvet mornin’ when I’m straight. . .” Check out the song/video w/Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood (another great lost talent). Over and out.

  26. RFF

    With all due respect, Jackie Robinson was a Republican (the party of Licoln). Obama is and has been surrounded by the heirs of the Illinois black elite class who have been Republicans since Reconstruction. Unfortunately, racial ignorance is so deep in this country that the average rube is surprised that rich blacks would act any differently than rich whites. Duh. Over and out.

    1. different clue

      After it became the party of Mark Hanna, it wasn’t the party of Lincoln anymore. And it bitterly resented its misfit outlier Teddy Roosevelt when he became President.

      So I think it might be better to think of rich black people as Mark Hanna Republicans. Perhaps we could call them Uncle Tom’s Mansion Republicans, to be perfectly rude about it. (In the spirit of calling upwardly mobile Gay Republicans by the name Log Mansion Republicans).

    2. rob

      Just to add my two cents, as a yankee, in north carolina.
      The party of lincoln, was branded by the southerners as the “N” party.THis was the solid south,after the civil war,when the south,was solidly democratic.this lasted until johnson signed the civil rights act in 1964.then johnson said they gave the south to the republicans for generations.Before the civil war, both parties had different connections.Today, the republican party is the “confederate”party.And not because they believe in states rights.First,to be clear,”niether party believes in anything”They just have different segments of the population fooled into thinking they do.This is useful.The proof is that both parties sell out their supposed ideology,whenever money is on the line.The other point is that both parties have different meanings, depending upon what states you live in.North carolina was a “democratic” state since the late 1800’s.which meant the democrats where the “white” party.since the republicans lost their reconstruction era power, with white/klan led revolts like the wilminton riots of 1898, when the blacks of the most prosperous city in NC, were burned and run out of town and their assets/business’s stolen by whites(including future governors).This is why in this state, plenty of “good ole boys” still say”I am a democrat”,just before they tell you they have voted republican since nixon.In the state house the democrats just lost power after 100 years in power.
      whereas, in the north east, democrats are the party of FDR, and the new deal.whereas the connecticut and NY blue bloods are republican because they opposed the new deal.Like rockefeller was.these are the rockefellers,peter g petersons ,mitt romneys of today… there are many other anomolies of what makes a republican and a democrat.But what I mean to say is, these days, both parties are not what they have ever been before.,except in the twenties in the north east when both parties were firmly in the grip of JP Morgan and the “monied” families.In the elections of the twenties, jp morgan partners were the candidates/powers behind the throne of both parties. .the west… well, they were not even there till relatively recently.And they play along, with the times.
      I say both parties are :
      which in my mind are one and the same.
      the tories, of england/pre-revolutionary america,were federalists. then they were the “power” behind american federalists.these tories were also the power that became wall st. JP morgan co. was originally george peabody and co,circa 1738.the american establishment are cousins of the british establishment.,literally.When jock whitney was Pan Am, his cousin commodore whitney was british airways, and head of the british aeronautical society.the powers that be today,if not actually descended from them, moved into their place in society. the fascists/corporateists are just modern versions of what a tory colonialist has done the world over. the britissh flag followed the private joint stock corporations that later were to become the british empire.And these families /tories are alive and well today. They teach the elitists in the elite institutions their version of civilized leadership of the great unwashed masses.
      Again like what USMC GEN.Smedley Butler said”the dollar goes abroad to earn greater than 6% return,the flag follows the dollar and the marines follow the flag”

  27. Tyler Healey

    Here’s Bartlett in his latest at Economix:

    “It’s too bad that misplaced fears about the fiscal cliff have taken off the table the option of simply letting all the automatic tax increases and spending cuts go into effect. While this would indeed reduce short-run growth, the Congressional Budget Office says the reduction in projected deficits would actually raise growth in the medium- and long-term…”

  28. The Federal Farmer

    When austerity is imposed by government, the real economy comes to light. Yves, you are a socialist and your blog is more aptly titled, Socialist Capitalism.

    Government involvement in the economy is a Marxist concept and to think or suggest austerity is a culprit is to assume government is a valid participant taking on the usual market risks.

  29. Cujo359

    I enjoyed the show. Bruce Bartlett’s point about the conservatives’ lingering belief in ACORN was especially troubling. I wonder how we can debate about policy when so many people believe in fantasies like this.

    1. different clue

      Limit the debate to being among the non-stupid people who don’t have the stupid fantasies. Approach the stupid people as the enemy, to be defeated in war or to be surrendered to in war.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Unfortunately people aren’t necessarily stupid about all things in the same way.

        Up here in the great state of Maine, for example, there are plemty of stone wingers who are totally sound on sustainable agriculture and local good sovereignty. The East-West Corridor wouldn’t be in such trouble if it weren’t for them, as well as the hippies. It is possible to pry them gently away from some of the worst fantasies, and I’m sure they think the same of me; I think that may be because many of them are off the media grid as well, and the homegrown stuff isn’t perhaps as heavy duty as the corporate stuff. Not sure.

        1. different clue

          Good point. We will have to settle then for ever-shifting Coalitions of the Willing . . . issue by issue and problem by problem for years into the future. Will people ready to “kill or die” fighting with you over one issue be willing at the same time to coalesce with you over another issue at the same time?

      2. Cujo359

        To borrow phrasing from the martial arts, sometimes soft style works best, and sometimes hard style does. I think it largely depends on the situation. For my part, I don’t have the time, energy, or aggression to fight what seems like three quarters of the population.

        It’s not just conservatives who have deluded ideas about reality, either. There are plenty of stupid progressive and moderates, too.

      3. jonboinAR

        Reporting from Arkansas:
        Nearly all the people I interact with these days, working class men and women and several doctors and small-business managers, drink the -“49% is being supported by the 51% (vice versa?) because that’s the way Obama and the government want it to be”- koolaid. A few of the lawyer-types are slightly less aggressively obtuse. I have no idea what to do about it. It may not be quite as bad up EurekaSprings’ way.

  30. different clue

    Someone upthread mentioned just now hearing about “pay to play” in the Congress. I first heard about it on this Jack Lessenberry interview of Representative Marcy Kaptur. About halfway through the interview, Kaptur discusses how Pelosi possibly introduced and certainly heightened and deepened Pay To Play in the Dem Caucus of the House of Reps.
    She would demand campaign money tribute from every Democratic Rep to get on their choice of spots and committees, and the less campaign money they gave Pelosi, the less and lower assignments they got. Kaptur noted how that discriminated against Reps from poor districts like her and Greater Toledo. She also discussed how she pursued
    “lateral power” to get around the Pelosi Pay To Play Exclusion. Here is the link.

  31. different clue

    One of the drawbacks of not owning my own computer is I don’t have access to a way to hear webcasts. The only way I know about the webcast above is because I saw it as a real TV program on a real TV set. And I looked it online from memory hoping it would be there.

    Since I don’t have sonic online access, I can only guess at the quality interview that other people are actually able to hear. Fiscal slope is a good counter-word to fiscal cliff. I can offer some other words and phrases in case anyone decides they are useful enough to take and use.

    The fiscal cliff is a lie. It is a propaganda buzzword.
    There is no fiscal cliff. What there is is . . . a fiscal reset. Lets just reset all the tax rates back to what they were during President Clinton when we were building a deficit-busting surplus. I paid more taxes then. So what?
    I wasn’t poorer then. I am not richer now. Actually, the BushCoBama Tax Cuts make this a poorer country which makes me poorer now. So lets go back to the Clinton rates. Lets hit the Clinton Reset Button.

    1. Cujo359

      There’s a transcript of the show at Moyers’ site. The computer you’re using has to have Javascript enabled, unfortunately, and then you have to click on the “Transcript” link that’s just below the video.

      The communication was almost entirely verbal, so you’re not missing much by reading the transcript.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Transcripts are absolutely critical:

        1. They can be quoted and linked to much more easily than video or audio

        2. They are in a format (HTML) that is not dependent on changing viewer technology and data standards

        3. For busy readers, reading a transcript is much faster than than watching a video or reading an audio.

        4. They are readable by those who have difficulty seeing or hearing

        5. They are much more easy to translate.

        5. In a digital “Library of Alexandria” scenario transcripts can be printed out to preserve the historical record

        Transcripts are utterly key which is, I suppose, why our overlords would prefer to hook us on audio and video clips as part of a systemic dumbing down process which is actually destroying knowledge at a rapid clip.

        1. different clue

          I would hope that some people go even beyond ( or beneath) a digital Library of Alexandria concept. Meaning that I hope some people, or ideally many people; would print their own personal choices for “best of” transcripts onto acid free paper which can last for centuries so that some of these transcripts will remain alive after blackouts or brownouts or solar megaflairs or govermnent shutdowns, takeovers, and Conquests of Alexandria burn down and destroy all the digital transcripts in the digital Library of Alexandria.

          By the way, there is a skeletal effort to save some stuff called The Wayback Machine ( Internet Archive Project). Its BIG BIG weakness is that it does not list anything it has by title, only by URL. So if you don’t remember something’s URL, you will never find it on the Wayback Machine. And if that something has been gone from the internet for so long that even its mere name is gone, then its URL cannot be found. I discovered this to be true for a hallucinogenic drug site called Disembodied Eyes. I find no mention of it anywhere on the webnet, so I cannot find the URL. So I cannot find it on the Wayback Machine.
          Hopefully someone will bring this problem to the attention of some Wayback Mechanics at The Internet Archive so they can print up lists of all the NAMES of all the websites and netsites that they have stored “for the ages”.

          1. different clue

            No, Aquifer, it was very different. Verrrry different.
            But this Lyceum could be interesting in its own way.

            Still . . . if the Internet Archivists and Wayback Machinists ever note the NAMES of every URL they have archived, I will hunt through that list of names for my late lamented Disembodied Eyes site.

        2. Cujo359

          Transcripts are absolutely critical

          A lot of times, I prefer them over the video. Presidential debates are nearly always better in transcript form, largely because the lies seem somehow less annoying in print. Plus, I can read them much faster than the debaters can say the words.

          The only drawback is if there’s lots of graphics or other visual presentation. Still, I wish every talk show had transcripts.

  32. bob

    Being that this whole debate is very skewed, and based on little or any data, I feel free to offer up some preditions.

    1. The GOP puts together a “bipartisan” comittee, headed up by moderate Jim Demint, on his way out of office. He natually has no skin in the game anymore, he’s going to make a fortune working for Heritage.

    2. In the first act of honesty, to fend off the fiscal cliff, Mr. Demint says that at least 300,000 of his own parties constituents must die. It’s quite a come down from previous estimates that the GOP would ask for 1 million GOP members to be sacrificed.

    3. The Dems, seeing the strength of the GOP position, offer to settle for 500,000 GOP sacrifices. But, with stipulations..

      1. optimader

        My only critisism is that you failed to correct Mr. Moyers little preamble.
        As I am sure you are aware, Tony Perkins was not driving a Roadster! He was driving an Aston Martin DB4 Saloon (which soon recieved iconic status in Goldfinger)

        Some irony here that it was the car used by the superhero of the State whilst battling the transnational Villian attempting to upset the Gold Standard..

  33. Timothy

    Hi. I wanted to ask about a suggestion I heard. This was a caller to CSPAN who recommended a 1% tax on derivatives to offset the debt. Why isn’t this a reasonable idea or at least a suitable part of a recovery plan? Any insight is much appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Aquifer

      Well , for the same reason a FTT isn’t on the menu – with DC a fully owned subsidiary of WS – if WS don’t want it, it ain’t done ….

  34. Brooklin Bridge

    Eves did a beautiful job explaining why the Fiscal Cliff is hog wash. And it was great to hear Bruce Bartlett support her. But being on PBS? PBS has become such a bastion of main stream propaganda that I even question Bill Moyers’ having a program on it at all. It’s like finding a saint in a torture chamber of the inquisition; incongruous. I find it hard to believe that the Koch brothers (Nova) or Wal-Mart (Smiley Show) would allow the Moyers program to air at all if it didn’t contribute in some way to the overall lock-down on public awareness. Just an arrière-pensée.

    I suppose one has to take every opportunity one gets, but I have a sneaky feeling this doesn’t really get Yves or her ability to pull the curtain off main stream manufactured myths and obfuscations all that much closer to the public at large.

    1. different clue

      Where else would you have Bill Moyers have a TV show? No other TV channel would permit him on at all. So it is PBS (which can reach millions if those millions want to be reached) or nowhere at all.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        I’m not questioning Bill Moyers’ choice of PBS, but rather PBS’s choice of Bill Moyers. Ostensibly, he no longer fits at all with the corporate policy adhered to like bark by PBS.

        What’s the deal? Why do they broadcast his show? For the same reason, perhaps, that the Senate allows Bernie Sanders to make speeches in front of empty chambers? It appeases the fu*king retards and he is neutered anyway (will always vote as told)?

        Don’t get me wrong. It’s great that Yves goes on his show for she will indeed reach a lot of people, but that said, it’s hardly main stream. It’s a group of educated upper middle class that are absolutely terrified of loosing their portfolios, and would vote O-Betrayal in a heart beat to keep them intact even if it meant paving the streets from side to side with homeless children from Boston to San Fransisco.

        As to where any self respecting individual might have his show now-a-days, I think the internet is pretty much it, at least in this country. Once you appear somewhere else, it raises legitimate questions as to why you are permitted public presence.

        1. Aquifer

          Methinks PBS is hedging its bets – I think it still gets some public funding and local stations still “need” subscribers, so having Moyers is a gambit to keep an audience for PBS that it might not have otherwise, and with that audience some advocates for it ….

    1. Lambert Strether

      No, no. Nixon – guilt = Obama.

      * * *

      Nixon ultimately destroyed himself, I am convinced, because he knew what he did was wrong. Deep down, he knew he really was a crook. Obama has no such depth of character.

  35. Yves_Fan

    btw, Yves, GREAT JOB!

    Been reading you since 2006, and you are truly one of the best sources of quality reporting and analyses in this country.

    Keep up the awesome work.

    Hope he brings you back often, congrats!

  36. mrtmbrnmn

    Bravo Yves! As ever. Sharp. Astute. Correct.
    And hats off to Bruce bartlett too. He’s not Matt Taibbi, but neither is he the douche one might have expected from his c.v.

    ps: Obama is Wall Street’s caddy. Period!!

  37. Zachary Smith

    Wow. I can’t remember when I last saw such a display of sanity! And now I understand why Bartlett is on the ‘outs’ with the tea baggers – he’s clearly not any kind of a nutcase anymore.

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