You want a surefire way to cause a cable news stir? Just pit old foes like Sean Hannity and Rep. Anthony Weiner against each other, throw in Rep. Michele Bachmann for good measure, and voila! The battle gets picked up by everyone from Mediaite and The Blaze to News Hounds and the Huffington Post.
Last night’s topic of debate was the United States’ current financial mess:
HANNITY: All right, Congressman, here’s why we are in this position. This is just a fact. You had both Houses of Congress last year — run by the Democrats. You had White House. You guys didn’t pass a budget. It is your responsibility. You should have passed the budget. You didn’t pass a budget. Now we find ourselves at this impasse.
All the Democrats are offering — it’s $4.5 billion in cuts. We have a $1.65 trillion deficit this year, after nearly three trillion of Obama debt in his first two years. And we also have, you know, $3.7 trillion budget.
You can’t find more than $4.5 billion to cut?
WEINER: Well, frankly, let’s get the history right. The Bush administration drove the economy into a cliff and we’ve been digging out ever since.
HANNITY: Blah, blah, blah.
WEINER: Well, let me answer the question. It’s true we also did add a trillion dollars of additional debt and deficit by giving tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires — something many of us opposed. But the fact is, if you look at the president’s budget –
Once again, Bush Derangement Syndrome rears its ugly head. We’re in Barack Obama’s third year as president; it’s remarkable that Democrats still don’t feel embarrassed to lay the blame for all of America’s woes, including the Obama job losses, at the feet of his predecessor. If you still think Obama has little to do with all the red ink we’re drowning in, check out this post at Maggie’s Notebook, which highlights a couple unnerving analyses of Obama’s fiscal policies. They point out that Obama’s gotten credit for the repayment of TARP loans that should go to Bush, and that “the latest Obama budget is his third straight budget calling for over a $1 trillion in spending – which no other president has ever done, and in fact no president has even asked for half that. And get this: Anderson says Obama’s three year spending binge is 37% higher than G.W.’s ENTIRE 8-YEAR PRESIDENCY.” (I’ve tackled Obama’s drunken-sailor ways before here.)
In true News Hounds fashion, Ellen defends Weiner’s Bush-blaming not by attempting a comparative analysis of the two presidents’ actions, but by sneering that Hannity’s objection to it “is quite rich considering Hannity’s obsession with blaming Bill Clinton for 9./11 and other ills during the Bush administration.”
Here’s the difference, Ellen: when conservatives go after Clinton for leaving Bush with messes to clean up, we’re usually referring to specific instances of Bush getting blamed for the fallout of specific actions of his predecessor, such as a decade’s worth of impotent responses to Islamic terrorism, or for a recession that began a mere two months into Bush’s presidency, before he enacted any economic policies, good or bad.
WEINER: Well, look, I will tell you this. That the deficit right now comes from three places. One, unfunded wars, two, enormous numbers of jobs lost — and that’s a tragedy that President Bush drove us into this cliff — and three tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
One, wars are indeed expensive, and smart, careful spending cuts in defense should certainly be considered, but while defense spending did rise under Bush, it was still historically low even at its highest point in the past decade, and still considerably lower than steadily-rising entitlement spending. Two, see above. Three, as we’ve been over ad nauseam, “millionaires and billionaires” still pay the highest percentage of the federal tax burden, and even the Associated Press admits that Bush’s “tax cuts for the rich” benefitted the middle class, as well.
After being repeatedly pressed for how much he’d be willing to cut, Weiner finally boasted that he “passed four amendments that reduce spending by over $400 million.” Hannity was unimpressed with removing “$400 million of a $3.7 trillion budget,” to which Weiner replied by lying yet again about Bush and adding that “we’re paying less because of health care.” Yeah, right.
The last noteworthy bit of the segment people are noticing was Weiner whining about Hannity calling him names, particularly “partisan hack.” If the shoe fits, Congressman…