Restoring Sanity: Stewart and Snowe

The “Restore Sanity” rally hosted by Jon Stewart and (to a lesser extent) Stephen Colbert Saturday drew over 200,000 people, easily doubling the rally Glenn Beck hosted in August, which he vowed would “change the world.”   Yet while both claimed their rally was not political, Beck’s was — having speakers like Sarah Palin and others with a clearly partisan tilt.  The Stewart-Colbert rally actually remained above politics.  The message was simple:  most Americans know how to compromise and figure out how to deal with problems when people disagree.  Thanks to the 24 hour sensationalized cable media and politicians living on emotional sound bits, the government lacks that ability.  Unfortunately, the government has lots of power.

This is certainly a clear shot at folk like Beck and his ilk who want to paint those with a different world view than his (non-Christian, secular, liberal, etc.) as evil, destroying the country, and perhaps even disloyal.  That kind of emotion-driven “paint the other as strange and evil” attitude has a long sordid history in politics, and it usually leads to very dark places.   Ironically, Stewart’s message reminded me of a conversation I had Thursday with Senator Olympia Snowe, a Republican here in Maine.

I told her that I used her as an example in my class of how politics should be about compromise and working with people who have different views on a subject.   She expressed dismay at the partisan market-driven emotion of ideological politics, noting that conservatives have even forgotten who Reagan was.  Reagan was not an ideological “make no compromise” tea party type.  Reagan compromised and worked with Democrats, cutting deals and thus getting things done.   His ability to work with Gorbachev rather than continue Cold War confrontation helped assure a peaceful end to the Cold War.

What if more people thought like Stewart and Snowe, and focused less on demonizing the other than reaching out and saying “OK, we have different views, let’s figure out what we can accomplish.”  That’s the only way our system can work, no party will ever have the power to unilaterally make significant long term change.   At a time when our economy faces crisis, and there are really serious issues involving terrorism and foreign policy, we should be having serious conversations and coming together as a nation.  Instead tea partiers call Obama a Kenyan born socialist, the far left calls tea partiers racist, and when we need to act like adults, the country acts like fourth graders.

Or do we?   Stewart’s final message was one of hope.  Americans are not reflected by the tea party candidates or ideologues from the left.   Americans are not primarily Democratic or Republican, and do not think in terms of “us vs. them.”  Americans do not think compromising on issues of principle is inherently bad; rather, it is inherently necessary just to solve the problems which arise every day.  Americans are not what we see on the cable news or arguing in the Capitol Building.  Olympia Snowe may be a rarity in the Senate, but she’s typical of most Americans — she wants to figure out how people of different views can get work together.

Might I suggest a Snowe-Stewart (or Stewart-Snowe) ticket in 2012?

The Republicans are poised for historic gains on Tuesday, turning around huge loses in 2006 and 2008.  The GOP loudly proclaims that Americans are embracing conservative values, even though two years ago they seemed to embrace what many Republicans labeled socialist values.   In 2008 Democrats thought Americans had embraced their view of the future.  Yet what Americans want is problem solving, not ideology.   They want compromise because without compromise, nothing gets done.  Our system is designed for either compromise or gridlock.   The great Democratic victory of 2008 may give way to the great Republican victory of 2010, and in 2012 things may break again the other way.

In some ways it was ironic to watch so many on the left enjoy themselves watching or attending the Stewart-Colbert rally.   If your party is about to suffer huge defeats, it’s not typical to have such a fun time.   But hey, why not?   Being miserable and stressed doesn’t help the situation, and a well attended mass rally may do some good.   Still, the larger message will hopefully get through:  real Americans talk, debate, compromise, and collaborate.   For ratings big 24 hour cable news thrives on emotion, division, and anger.   So far, the politicians have let themselves be guided by that emotion-driven urge to demonize and simplify.  That has made problems worse, rather than better.

Can sanity be restored, and can the politicians start reflecting real Americans again?   We’ll know answers about the 2010 election in just a few days.   But it’ll take a bit longer to find out if the Stewart- Colbert rally led to any progress on our need to restore sanity so we can make the decisions we need to for our future.

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  1. #1 by renaissanceguy on October 31, 2010 - 13:39

    I’m sorry, Scott, but your post seems disingenuous, and I hate to think that about you.

    You pick a Republican who sides with the Democrats and a commentator whose views mirror the Democratic platform, and you want to claim that they are not ideological or party-driven. Near the end you even admit that it was people on the left who mostly attended the rally.

    So, bascially, right-leaning Republicans are ideologues, but moderate-to-left-leaning Democrats (and Republicans) are not?

    You wrote: “Thanks to the 24 hour sensationalized cable media and politicians living on emotional sound bits, the government lacks that ability.”

    Aren’t Stewart and Colbert part of the media?

    You also wrote: “That kind of emotion-driven “paint the other as strange and evil” attitude has a long sordid history in politics, and it usually leads to very dark places.”

    You are not suggesting–with a straight face, anyway–that Stewart and Colbert are above painting ordinary Americans in the “fly-over” zone as strange or painting Beck and Palin as evil. I’m sure most people have heard them doing so in their clever, comedic way.

    Frankly, I am sick to death of reading and hearing that we need compromise in poltics, since what that seems to mean in almost every case is that right-leaning people had better bend and bow to the left-leaning people.

    You wrote: “Yet what Americans want is problem solving, not ideology.”

    Maybe, but don’t we have different views on how to solve the problems? Don’t those views make up part of our ideology?

    I think that we can solve many of our problems by eliminating at least half of government programs, shutting down half of the government departments and agencies, lowering taxes, and putting a strong wall between business and government (no government support for business and no government hindrance to business). You disagree. Does that mean that I am an ideologue, but you are not?

    You also wrote: “Can sanity be restored, and can the politicians start reflecting real Americans again?”

    In writing that, you are doing exactly what you say you eschew. You are demonizing people who do not fit your definition of “real Americans.”

    Your whole post is full of a sad and strange irony. You state your views strongly and clearly, and yet imply that you have no ideology. You are against casting aspersions on people with whom one disagrees, and yet you imply that people who disagree with you are not real Americans.

  2. #2 by Scott Erb on October 31, 2010 - 13:53

    I’ll dismiss the ad hominems and labeling of Stewart and Colbert, and note that he pokes fun at Democrats and Republicans both.

    The American system works on compromise. Senator Snowe, who knew Ronald Reagan, was right in noting his ability to compromise and work with Democrats was key to his successes. Our system cannot work without compromise, the founders structured it so that different groups were forced to debate and make deals.

    I also think you are not only over-reacting, but misreading my post. Note that I’m embracing a Republican Senator’s perspective here as well. I think Stewart is absolutely right — most Americans are not political ideologues, most want to see compromise. He made clear that we can and should have differences of opinion, and made clear he has his opinions. But we should demonize those who disagree. I see the vitriolic bile being launched against Obama, and how talk radio demonizes all liberals, often with Goebbelesque lies and it makes me scared that the right is drifting to fascism. That is not demonizing them, that’s stating an honest fear based on studying the rhetoric which is emotive, personal, and often deals in dishonesty. And yes, that is increasingly happening on the far left too, and the anti-Bush rhetoric was often over the top (but the anti-Obama stuff is far more ubiquitous on the right).

    The cable news deals in sensationalization, and Stewart’s criticisms of the news media cannot be dismissed by a glib “well, he’s in the media too.” Come on, you know he’s continuing his long term criticism of the news media, which has drifted to sensationalism and emotion over information and true dialogue. And if you watched the rally, it was definitely not partisan, and in fact disappointed the left who had hoped for something like it.

    Stewart ripped CNBC and Jim Cramer for the media coverage of the economy last year, embarrassing them with footage and outing Cramer for downright lying. I noted then that it was too bad that we rely on comedians to do the work the media should be doing.

    So yes, we need compromise. Someone wants to cut half the government, another wants to grow it. They debate, look at the facts available, try to convince others, and neither gets what they want. That’s the ONLY WAY our system can work, that’s how it was designed. I think Stewart is right that if we keep down the divided partisan hyper-vindictive rhetorical and emotion path, our country will continue to decline and we won’t be able to solve our problems. I agreed completely with what Stewart said at the end of the rally, and am proud that someone from my generation is speaking up against big media, big government, and political hacks.

    I really think you need to watch the rally if you haven’t, and listen to what Stewart said. He, with 200,000 folks in attendance, challenged both parties and the 24 news media to stop behaving like children with taunts and “my way or no way” rhetoric and to actually recognize that the only way we can save a country now in hard times is to work together and be true to our values. That kind of message is why Stewart is so popular, and taking on an iconic role in American culture right now.

  3. #3 by Scott Erb on October 31, 2010 - 14:03

    Oh one more thing:

    An ideologue is not just someone with an ideology, but a “true believer,” (there are psychology books written about that type), someone so certain they are right that they cannot compromise and see themselves as fighting some kind of righteous struggle. Because they think it’s so clear they are right, they find it hard to accept those who think differently as honest, intelligent, and well intentioned. They also lack one essential point: the ability to self-critique their own views. That’s likely driven by some internal low self-esteem issues.

    Some ideologues are absolute ‘true believers,’ others have only some aspects of this personality type. The extremes, when they change views, often will go from far left to far right (e.g., David Horowitz) because they need a cause to give their life meaning.

    Someone can have an ideology but not be an ideologue if they accept they might be wrong, are willing to work with others, make compromises, but still push for what they believe in. They recognize they may not get their way, and that’s OK. That’s a sign of realism and confidence. Glenn Beck strikes me as a “true believer,” while Stewart, despite having his own opinions, gets along well with conservatives, mocks all sides, and often does engage in self-criticism. I think that’s why I have a lot of respect for Stewart, he’s modeling the kind of behavior I consider politically healthy (as is Senator Snowe and many Republicans — the true believer curse hits all sides of the political spectrum).

  4. #4 by Scott Erb on October 31, 2010 - 15:03

    Oh, and I almost forgot: RG, one reason I read your blog is that you really have more in common with Stewart than you might realize. You have strong views, but also humility and respect for others. So I see you as reflecting much of what Stewart called for.

  5. #5 by renaissanceguy on October 31, 2010 - 15:24

    If I were to point out that Glenn Beck criticizes both Republicans and Democrats, would you say that it makes him the equivalent of Jon Stewart on the right? Is there anybody who thinks that deep down Stewart is a conservative or moderate and not a full-fledged liberal? I doubt it.

    Olympia Snowe is a Republican in name only. I think that she is a great woman, and I admire her in some ways, but saying that you support a Republican because you support her is not saying very much. She occasionally votes with the party, and is somewhat conservative on fiscal matters, but she is hardly a typical Republican.

    It’s very interesting to me that you do not see the evenness in the two main political sides. Each side picks on the other. Bush was called Hitler, and Obama has been called Hitler. There is no use saying that it’s just a little worse in regard to Obama. I’m not buying it. (Many of our conservative friends would allege the opposite!)

    Compromise is inevitable in our system. Nothing will get done without it. That’s why I think it is a bit of a waste of time to discuss it, as though there is an alternative. I suppose the alternative is the dreaded “gridlock,” but I, for one, do not dread it. I think it means that people are sticking to their principles and being loyal to the people who elected them. After all, if somebody votes for a Republican, he or she usually doesn’t want that person to always vote right along with the Democrats.

    I understand what you mean about true believers. I studied the concept in college. I think it often just means somebody who actually believes what he or she says. I think it is also a label put on people by those who are true believers in the opposite direction. (For example, an atheist might classify a fundamentalist Christian as a “true believer,” but he or she is no less one.)

  6. #6 by renaissanceguy on October 31, 2010 - 15:26

    Thanks for the compliment, Scott. I appreciate it. I recognize the same in you, no matter how roughly I might argue with you. I do try to be fair and reasonable. I do respect other people’s right to have contrary views.

  7. #7 by Scott Erb on October 31, 2010 - 16:02

    But Stewart really doesn’t push an agenda — Beck overtly does, and makes dire claims that America is being destroyed from within and calls for a transformation to a particular world view he has. Stewart did rip claims being made about the Iraq war and war on terror — but he used the politicians own words to mock them and out hypocrisy. He does that to those on the left too. His specialty is finding and outing hypocrisy and dishonesty. I use clips in class of him, say, interviewing Jim Cramer or mocking CNN to show that — most Republicans I know who watch Stewart regularly realize he’s not a leftist version of talk radio.

    Olympia Snowe certainly is not a Republican in name only. That’s really insulting to her, as if there is a litmus test set by others as to what a Republican is. She helped make the Maine GOP what it is, and her views are mainestream New England Republican. When she runs for election the candidate on the left has fundamentally different views than she does. She’s actually closer to Reagan in her approach than many Republicans today.

    I think the GOP, as well as the Democrats, risk being highjacked by the extremes of their parties who look at politics as some kind of blood sport, rather than our system of decision making. Since the 80s when I worked in the Senate (for a Republican Senator) there was less anger and more friendship/cooperation across the aisles than now. A bitterness has taken hold, something noticed by people in Congress.

    I think Stewart is right that the emotion-driven 24 hour media which sensationalizes and focuses on trivial scandals rather than big issues has pushed politics to appeal to emotion and go towards the extremes. Obama is attacked as viciously from the left in his party as he is from Republicans. So I don’t see this as a left-right thing, but a culture shift towards a more vicious and angry politics — though I don’t think most Americans think that way. I think it’s amplified by the news and certain politicians. The tea party on the right and ANSWER on the left, for instance, represent an extremely small proportion of the electorate, but they are very vocal.

    Classicliberal argues that since the GOP now seems to answer to the extremes, its pointless for the Democrats to still try to play nice, and Obama is suffering because he tried to look for compromise rather than do to the Republicans what they did to the Democrats. Maybe he’s right in the short term, especially if the GOP come refusing to make significant compromises in the next Congress. But my hope is that ultimately the public loses patience with that and just as Ted Kennedy and Jesse Helms could work together on important legislation, and respect each other, so will future politicians, even as they vehemently disagree.

    The true believer concept came originally from Eric Hoffer’s book “Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements,” which was published in 1951.

  8. #8 by renaissanceguy on October 31, 2010 - 16:35

    I am familiar with Hoffer’s ideas. I understand the concept, but I think it is overused and misused.

  9. #9 by classicliberal2 on November 1, 2010 - 05:13

    “Frankly, I am sick to death of reading and hearing that we need compromise in poltics, since what that seems to mean in almost every case is that right-leaning people had better bend and bow to the left-leaning people.”

    That’s because the American public is made up of “left-leaning people.” The right is actually greatly over-represented at every level of government, because it’s the faction that represents the interests of those with money and power.

    “I think that we can solve many of our problems by eliminating at least half of government programs, shutting down half of the government departments and agencies, lowering taxes, and putting a strong wall between business and government (no government support for business and no government hindrance to business). You disagree. Does that mean that I am an ideologue, but you are not?”

    It means you’re a minority of a minority. In a democracy, that isn’t supposed to rule, but if you can convince enough people that you’re right, you can, indeed, put your program into effect.

    That’s the theory.

    (In practice, the entire system is almost comically tilted in favor of the right. Even after Obama and the Democrats won an overwhelming victory two years ago, they weren’t able to enact a single significant element of their agenda–not even Obama, who is a moderate conservative).

  10. #10 by classicliberal2 on November 1, 2010 - 05:46

    “Classicliberal argues that since the GOP now seems to answer to the extremes, its pointless for the Democrats to still try to play nice, and Obama is suffering because he tried to look for compromise rather than do to the Republicans what they did to the Democrats.”

    That makes it sound like some sort of revenge, which isn’t right. The theory of an election is that people run on a platform and, if they win, they get to enact that platform (or most of it), and the public then renders its judgment of the effectiveness of it in the next election. The minority doesn’t just step aside and let the majority get everything, but the majority will get most of what it wants. Democrats won overwhelmingly in 2008, but never got to enact much of anything they wanted, because a minority–an exceptionally small one, historically speaking–simply said no to everything, and abused every rule in the book to get its way. They were able to do this in large part because the Obama opened every policy debate with massive, crippling concessions to the small minority. He demanded nothing from them in return. He received nothing. He then let them pick to pieces what was left, compromising on nothing, until the proposal either completely died (as happened in almost every case), or was so watered down that it wasn’t worth passing, then went through on a party-line (or mostly party-line) vote anyway. The appropriate course of action for the Obama and for the Democrats would have been to start with a firm position and aggressively fight for it right up to the end, granting concessions to the minority only if given something in return.

  11. #11 by renaissanceguy on November 1, 2010 - 13:57

    “The right is actually greatly over-represented at every level of government, because it’s the faction that represents the interests of those with money and power.”

    That would be great news if it were true. If it is true, then why are people on the right squawking their disatisfaction with the government?

    “It means you’re a minority of a minority.”

    Now tell me something that I don’t know. I realize that I believe in the Impossible Dream.

    “. . .not even Obama, who is a moderate conservative.”

    A man who wants to redistribute the wealth is nowhere near conservative. In America that is about as far left as a politician can get away with being.

    —–

    Classical Liberal, your second comment does not match my observations of the last two years. I’m not claiming to be right, but I would need some evidence to except your version of events.

  12. #12 by Scott Erb on November 1, 2010 - 14:03

    Labels are relative. Obama clearly is not making the left wing of the Democratic party happy, and his policies are in line with those of conservative parties in Europe (but conservatives in Europe believe in things like guaranteed health care and pensions). Conservatives everywhere believe in redistributing wealth, they disagree with how much. Libertarians are not conservative, it’s a very different ideology. Conservatives historically have also distrusted capitalism (meaning there was an odd agreement between Pope John Paul II and Castro about the excesses of capitalism when the Pope visited Cuba years ago).

  13. #13 by classicliberal2 on November 1, 2010 - 17:41

    “That would be great news if it were true. If it is true, then why are people on the right squawking their disatisfaction with the government?”

    Everyone, at the moment, is squawking about their dissatisfaction with the government. Polling, however, consistently shows the pattern I was referencing; the government is far more conservative than the public.

    For example, hundreds of millions of dollars from entirely undisclosed sources are currently pouring into the election campaigns in an effort to manipulate the outcome–more money, in many races, than is being spent by the candidates and the parties. It’s the biggest, most important story of the campaign. A Bloomberg poll released just three days ago shows what every poll on this subject has always shown. Bloomberg asked, “Do you think groups that engage in political activity, such as television ads, should or should not be required to disclose their donors, or does it not matter much to you?” 64% said they should be required to disclose. Only 5% said they shouldn’t (30%–presumably those badly in need of medication–said it “does not matter much”). Throughout the year, Democrats in congress have attempted to change the law to close the loophole that allows this, and force the outside groups spending the money to publicly disclose its source, like everyone else has to do. Disclosure, keep in mind, is a MINIMUM reform, given what’s happening. Republicans in the Senate stood against disclosure as a block–100% of them–and killed it. Theirs is the position of 5% of the public, yet they got their way.

    The gap between the public and what happens in government isn’t always that dramatic, but multiply that same story by hundreds, and you have the U.S. government at present.

    “A man who wants to redistribute the wealth is nowhere near conservative. In America that is about as far left as a politician can get away with being.”

    That’s just empty ranting. The Obama’s actual record is very clear–he has adopted, as his own, one conservative Republican policy after another. Nearly everything he has offered, in fact, falls into that category.

    “His” health care bill, for example, was born in the 1990s as the Republican alternative to the Clinton bill (which was also a Republican bill). Over the years, it had been offered by former Senate Republican leader Bob Dole, current Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, and by Massachusetts’ Republican then-governor Mitt Romney, who actually managed to get it passed and implemented.

    That’s the bill’s lineage. Except for a stray feature here and there (minor ones), it has no history on the left at all. The liberals wanted single-payer. Only when the Obama adopted it as “his” did every Republican jump ship.

    (It’s also worth noting, in the larger context of this discussion, that the only significant progressive element of the bill added by the Obama–the public option–was overwhelmingly favored by the public, yet the Obama cut a backroom deal to drop it right at the beginning of the process. The polling at the time showed that the growing opposition to the bill was being driven by dropping the public option from it.).

    Obama’s stimulus bill didn’t begin life as a conservative Republican measure, but nearly half of it was made up of wasteful tax cuts, in an effort to get them on board. All but three Repubs voted against it anyway, but over half of the Republicans caucus in congress then returned home to take credit for all the money it was pouring into their states and districts. As endorsements go, that’s good enough for me.

    The Obama has continued Bush’s wars. He has refused to prosecute or even significantly investigate the criminal wrongdoing of the previous regime. He has maintained and even defended, against every significant challenge, Bush’s assertions of fascistic powers. Only days before the BP disaster vividly illustrated the insanity of deep-water drilling combined with deregulation, he was pushing for further deep-water drilling.

    And so on. That’s the Obama’s record. From a policy standpoint, his administration would, only a few years ago, have been regarded, uncontroversially, as conservative Republican.

  14. #14 by renaissanceguy on November 2, 2010 - 07:53

    Some of what you say certainly paints Obama as a moderate and as a political realist.

    However a particular phrase says a lot to me, and that is “wasteful tax cuts.” That says almost everything about your political philosohpy that I would need to know.

    A tax cut is giving back to people what is rightfully theirs. There is nothing wasteful about it.

  15. #15 by Scott Erb on November 2, 2010 - 14:18

    I strongly disagree that tax cuts give people what is rightfully theirs. They would not have what they have if it were not for rule of law, a stable political system, and a steady and maintained infrastructure. If not for social stability and protection of trade, contracts, and the like, wealthy folk might well be living in poverty. What they have has been made possible through effective government; where there is no effective government, people tend to be in poverty. Where there is no social welfare, there is unrest and revolt (or chronic malnourishment, etc.) People owe it to pay their taxes since that is what sustains conditions that make it possible for them to be wealthy. If they pay too little in taxation compared to what they’ve been able to achieve, they are in effect robbing from society for their individual gain. Now, since there is no clear objective way to measure the best tax rate, societies debate this and experiment, and in a democracy this should reflect the public wisdom about taxes. But to say tax cuts always give people what is “rightfully theirs” is something I strongly disagree with.

  16. #16 by renaissanceguy on November 2, 2010 - 14:49

    Well, unless a person stole money, what he has rightfully belongs to him. Is he obligated to pay for services that he uses? Of course. Should he pay into a system that helped him earn the money? Sure. But the money is his or her money to start with–unless it was stolen or unless the government gave it outright to the person.

    We are supposed to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Therefore, the people should decide how much of their money the government can have and how much the government can spend. A government that consists of representatives who can literally vote to take any amount that they choose and to spend any amount that they wish (including an amount that is billions of dollars higher than they have) is, to me, the definition of tyranny. More so, because they are usually taking the money and spending it for purposes that personally benefit them.

    If you do not believe that the money that people earn belongs to them by right, then how do you justify laws against theft? Why do you own property and a house yourself? Why not just turn it over to whoever wants it? These might seem like silly questions, but I think they go to the very root of the issue. I think that if you yourself would object to a thief stealing the contents of your wallet, then you are not being consistent in how you view ownership.

  17. #17 by Scott Erb on November 2, 2010 - 15:04

    Money is legal tender created by and protected by the government to allow ease in transactions. You are describing representative democracy as tyranny, which I find very odd. Taxation with representation (what the revolutionary war was fought about) is definitely not theft by any reasonable definition. Once you enter into the money economy (remember, government issued legal notes) you have to play by rules set by the people via their representatives, including taxation. A government that confiscates more than is allowed by the people via representative democracy is engaging in theft. People taking property in a manner not allowed by a Representative Democracy is engaged in theft. The people have decided taxation is necessary, and they have decided that theft should receive jail time. That’s not tyranny, that’s representative democracy, what the Constitution lays out as our system of government.

  18. #18 by renaissanceguy on November 2, 2010 - 15:11

    The Constitution did not authorize fiat money, the federal reserve system, or the income tax.

    People had little to no choice in the use of federal notes in place of gold and silver.

  19. #19 by Scott Erb on November 2, 2010 - 15:35

    The constitution did authorize an amendment process, and the constitution was amended to allow income tax. Are you trying to claim money is unconstitutional? I’ve never seen that argument. People do have little choice in using federal notes, that’s true. They also have little choice in a number of things they do given that they are part of a larger society and have to agree on rules by which the society operates. I don’t know of anything that works better than constitutional representative democracy, but if you can think of one, I’d entertain the idea.

  20. #20 by classicliberal2 on November 2, 2010 - 20:38

    The “wasteful tax cuts” line was based on the fact that tax cuts are far less stimulative than government spending. If, as was the case with the stimulus bill, the goal is to stimulate the economy, that’s now the best way to do it.

    Scott has already adequately covered the Limbaugh rhetoric about tax cuts merely providing people with money that is rightfully theirs.

  21. #21 by Scott Erb on November 3, 2010 - 15:55

    That’s certainly true. Tax cuts are not only an inefficient way to stimulate the economy, but the Bush cuts probably lead primarily to increased consumption of foreign goods, heightening the current account problem.

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