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Ben Stein Slams Tax Cuts, Tea Partiers, Bush, and Obama as ‘Careless,’ But Praises Clinton

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 During a commentary aired on CBS Sunday Morning, supposedly right-leaning actor and economist Ben Stein blamed the "folly of supply side economics" - singling out President George W. Bush’s tax cuts in addition to President Obama’s spending - for the current federal budget deficit. The CBS contributor also complained that some Republicans have an "inflexible belief" that "low taxes were an American birthright."

He also complained that the Tea Partiers "insisted on the basically impossible, an immediate cut in federal spending, large enough to balance the budget without tax increases. In this age of Medicare and Medicaid, two wars, massive federal debt, interest payments, staggering Social Security obligations, that was simply impossible."

Invoking the Jordan Baker character from the Great Gatsby, he characterized all parties that he blamed as being "careless" people.

And, even though the balanced budgets of the late 1990s were largely the result of increased tax revenues that came with a booming economy - which notably also happened in the years after a capital gains tax cut was passed by a GOP-controlled Congress - Stein praised former President Bill Clinton for the balanced budget that existed when he left office.

Stein vaguely acknowledged the "Internet bubble" that helped fuel the 1990s economy, but still seemed to give Clinton credit for the balanced budget:

There's no doubt that Bill Clinton for all of his issues left the federal budget on a sound financial footing. It was undone by the bursting of the Internet bubble, the two wars following 9/11, but mostly because of the folly of supply side economics, which falsely assured Americans that they could have their cake and it a eat it, too. That large tax cuts would yield higher government revenue. There never was any convincing data to back it up...

Last April, Stein did a similar commentary attacking tax cuts on the same show, but, in September of last year, his commentary featured him complaining about the drive to raise taxes on the wealthy, leading Sy-Fy producer Linda McGibney to attack him personally on the next week’s show.

Below is a complete transcript of Stein’s commentary from the July 31 CBS Sunday Morning:

CHARLES OSGOOD: Feeling the urge to sound off about the national debt debate? So is our contributor Ben Stein.

BEN STEIN: There is a telling scene in the Great Gatsby where Jordan Baker, the shady golf pro, says, "I hate careless people. It takes two to make an accident."

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS ANCHOR: The days are now dwindling down to a precious few.

LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR: In President Obama's words, "We are almost out of time."

DIANE SAWYER, ABC ANCHOR: The debt stalemate in Washington-

STEIN: This comes to mind because of the budget, taxes, debt ceiling crisis the nation is going through. What we are seeing is a stupendous pile-up of immensely careless people who have been heading for trouble for more than a decade now. There's no doubt that Bill Clinton for all of his issues left the federal budget on a sound financial footing. It was undone by the bursting of the Internet bubble, the two wars following 9/11, but mostly because of the folly of supply side economics, which falsely assured Americans that they could have their cake and it a eat it, too. That large tax cuts would yield higher government revenue. There never was any convincing data to back it up, and there’s also supply side tax cuts were immense government deficits under Bush 43.

There was also another problem, an inflexible belief by some on the GOP side that low taxes were an American birthright. They're not.  We're not immune to arithmetic. If we spend a lot, we have to tax a lot. Then came Mr. Obama's carelessness. His wild raise in the federal expenditure so that what had seemed like huge deficits under Bush 43 suddenly seemed modest. And then came the Tea Partiers who insisted on the basically impossible, an immediate cut in federal spending, large enough to balance the budget without tax increases. In this age of Medicare and Medicaid, two wars, massive federal debt, interest payments, staggering Social Security obligations, that was simply impossible.

So we have now got many careless persons making an accident. It now appears disaster has been averted in that the can has been kicked down the road at least for a while. That's not great, but it’s better than an immediate train wreck. If something cannot go on forever it will stop, said my famous father, but it can end horribly if people are careless enough. It's time for the grown-ups of the right and the left to stand up. Both parties got us into this mess and both parties have to get us out.

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    Tags: barack obama, Ben Stein, Bill Clinton, budget, cbs, Congress, Conservatives & Republicans, current federal budget deficit, federal budget deficit, former president bill clinton, George W. Bush, medicare, national debt, president bill clinton, social security, social security obligations, sound financial footing, Sunday Morning, taxes, tea parties


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