Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rush gets schooled by CNBC

There was an item on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann tonight about an interview that Rush Limbaugh did on CNBC, talking about his "bipartisan stimulus plan," as he called it in today's Wall Street Journal. The interviewer — hardly a wild-eyed commie pinko on what is unmistakably the least liberal of the NBC siblings — made clear his contempt for Limbaugh's sudden epiphany of bipartisanship. Oddly, though, the transcript shows up not on CNBC's web site (video) , but on Rush's own site.

My favorite quote, by Mark Haines to Rush Limbaugh:

I hear hypocrisy. You're saying in this — in this piece, you say, uh, you know, "our economy doesn't know the difference...this is about jobs now...leave politics aside," and yet the first thing out of your mouth is politics! About liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat!

Haines began by pressing Limbaugh on his statement earlier this week that he hopes Obama fails, asking him if he now thought it was "a stupid and mean-spirited thing to say"; Limbaugh, in an act of almost Blagojevichian obliviousness, insisted that it was the right attitude to take with a new President in a time of national crisis. Limbaugh, of course, insists that Haines' skepticism must be rooted in "left-wing liberal sites that take me out of context," but Haines says he doesn't read any of them — he's basing his assessment purely on Rush's own words. Haines goes on to press Rush on his idea of splitting the stimulus money 54/46 (roughly the popular vote margin for Obama), "a refreshing breath of air" [sarcastically], in striking contrast to Rush's ideas on bipartisanship when his side was ahead 51/49.

Of course, Rush wants to use his 46% of the stimulus money for tax cuts — tax cuts for the investor class and the large corporations, specifically. As Rachel Maddow summed up on yesterday's program, a dollar spent on food stamps produces $1.73 in economic activity. A dollar spent on infrastructure produces $1.59. A dollar of individual tax cuts, $1.03. A dollar of corporate tax cuts, $0.30 — the pinnacle of corporate welfare, siphoning money not only out of the taxpayers but sucking it right out of the national economy to the detriment of everyone else. George W. Bush looked like he was about to jizz in his pants every time he said the words "tax cut," but this is a case where what's good for the Fortune 500 is quite different from what's good for Joe Sixpack.

So, why are we still talking about including corporate tax cuts as part of a stimulus plan? The very best tax cuts can do in return-on-investment (ROI) terms is $1.29, for a payroll tax holiday — the most direct way to encourage companies to hire more employees. The ROI for cutting the capital gains tax ($0.39) is only marginally better than the corporate tax. Extending unemployment insurance, on the other hand, clocks in at $1.64. It seems that the conservatives should be red-faced with embarrassment for advocating policies that are overtly counterproductive, but instead they continue to insist that the government waste money on tax cuts instead of spending it on genuine stimulus measures — measures that directly preserve jobs and give the neediest a hand in times of hardship are much more effective at growing the economy than giving tax breaks to the economic elites. (The numbers are from the Congressional testimony of Mark Zandi, one of McCain's economic advisors, House Committee on Small Business, Thursday, 2008-07-24, page 5; hat tips to Media Matters and The Rachel Maddow Show.)

In other words, the Republicans, and especially Rush Limbaugh, are fighting to make "the pie" smaller for our children so that we can eat an even bigger piece of it, before it's even baked.

(cross-posted to my DailyKos blog)

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An executive summary of the interview, with some expanded analysis of Rush's "plan," below the fold....