News & Politics

Former Reagan Official Blasts GOP: 'Dogmatic,' Relies on 'Fantasy'

Former Reagan economic official Bruce Bartlett appeared on MSNBC Sunday to inject some truth into the Republicans' economic arguments.

Bruce Bartlett on Bill Moyers' show.
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Former right-wing economist Bruce Bartlett continued his crusade of debunking conservative economic arguments over the weekend when he appeared on MSNBC and lambasted right-wing ideas on taxes. Bartlett, who garnered attention last week for penning a devastating critique of conservative economic ideology and the GOP in The American Conservative, made his remarks Sunday on “Up W/ Chris Hayes.”

Bartlett appeared in a segment with Veronique de Rugy, a conservative economist, on the issue of taxes and revenue. De Rugy offered the usual conservative line that raising taxes on the rich would be bad for the economy. Bartlett, though, wasn’t having any of that.

Bartlett blasted Grover Norquist for his strict no taxes pledge that Republicans have signed on to, and pointed out that more taxes on the rich were needed. Bartlett’s reasoning was that if taxes don’t go up, and new revenue is not forthcoming, interest rates on the U.S. debt would go up, causing more spending without any any revenue to offset it.

He also called out de Rugy directly by saying her ideas were “dogmatic.”

“We need higher revenues, both to restrain spending and to change the dynamics of the fiscal process…Your idea is so goddamn dogmatic. You’re living in a fantasy world where we’re going to balance the budget by abolishing Medicare and other ludicrous ideas,” Bartlett said in response to De Rugy, as Think Progress notes. “Let me point out something very important. Federal revenues today, right now, are about 15.8 percent of the GDP. That is way, way below the historical average. If we can just get up to the post-war average, we cut $500 billion a year off the deficit.”

The line of reasoning Bartlett pursues aligns with the argument Democrats are making in the midst of discussions over the debt and the budget as January approaches, which is when automatic spending cuts and tax increases will go into effect. President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are pushing for higher tax rates on the wealthy as part of any long-term budget deal.

Watch Bartlett’s remarks here, courtesy of Think Progress:

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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