Former Reagan and Bush Administration official Bruce Bartlett spoke with Bill Moyers this weekend and stated flatly that the right-wing tax policies hawked on talk-radio and FoxNews are ‘toxic to our economy.’
Wikipedia reports that Bartlett worked for both Ron Paul and Jack Kemp. He wrote two books, Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action, and The Supply-Side Solution. He was also a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, where he specialized in tax policy and was involved in the debate around the Tax Reform Act of 1986. In 1987, Bartlett became a senior policy analyst in the White House Office of Policy Development, then headed by Gary Bauer. In 1988, Bartlett left to become deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department, where he served until the end of the administration of George H.W. Bush.
Bartlett has written extensively for many newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fortune magazine, and Commentary magazine. He currently blogs at Capital Gains and Games. In 2006, he published Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.
[end of Wikipedia article]
It was that book that soured many on the right to Bartlett. And, no doubt, after this weekend’s expose of the right-wing’s ‘toxic’ tax policies, his reputation will be further soiled. Surely the pejorative RINO will roll off of the airwaves of both AM radio and Fox and will be mindlessly repeated on blogs all across the land.
In fact, Bartlett exposes that very fact- the fact that most right-wingers repeat what they hear from the professional propagandists without the use of their cerebrum. You may recognize that this is the same hypothesis that I have been repeating for the past several years. Additionally, Bartlett notes that this type of propaganda indoctrination is especially easy on the right-wing of the GOP because the vast majority of them are ‘Christian.’ They are used to ‘believing’ in stuff without analyzing any of it. Bartlett said, “…which means you accept things for which there is no proof.” Thus the ‘spongeon brain’ about which I often blog.
Bartlett warns that the current path advocated by today’s GOP- a path of no new taxes and continual cuts in spending- will lead this nation to ruin, “destroying the country’s economic foundation.” Bartlett said, “the one-percent made out like bandits while our National Debt soared sky-high.” Bartlett also says that if there are no new tax revenues, then massive cuts will have to be made to Medicare. Yes Medicare because ‘it is the 600 pound gorilla.’
Here’s an excellent point made by Bartlett [and some of us on this blog]:
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?
Bartlett: 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.
Here’s another important exchange:
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.
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.
Moyers and Bartlett end their discussion with this:
Moyers: How did that happen?
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.’
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.