Eliot Spitzer Finds Progressive Perch on Current TV - Talks Wal-Mart, Romney & Austerity Politics

Looking for a progressive alternative to TV-land dreck? Eliot Spitzer may have your answer in a new show on Current.

The famed prosecutor and former New York State Governor is host of a new show, ‘Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer’ airing on M-F at 8pm ET on Current TV. Current TV, for those who haven’t yet tuned in, is a progressive media company led by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt.

Previously the host of CNN’s “In the Arena,” the man dubbed “Sheriff of Wall Street” for his dogged pursuit of corporate scofflaws is sharing his views on the presidential campaign, Wall Street, and the state of the economy. Upcoming guests include progressive icon Katrina vanden Heuvel of the Nation and Rolling Stone’s take-no-prisoners journo Matt Taibbi.

Spitzer’s background as Attorney General from 1998 to 2006, during which time he led several high-profile cases fighting corruption throughout the financial services sector, gives him a valuable perspective on cases like Wal-Mart’s activities in Mexico, recently exposed in the New York Timesas corrupt in the extreme. On a call yesterday, Spitzer expressed his view that the “role of law enforcement should be backward looking, not forward looking” and shared his disappointment in the lack of investigation of Wall Street criminal activity. He observed that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which is enforced by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, had been typically applied to small fry. But the indisputably big fry of Wal-Mart, he noted, will test the fortitude and commitment of investigators and law enforcement officials. On the Wal-Mart case, he said: “If this is not the basis on an indictment, I don’t know what is.”

When asked how his current TV gig will be different from what viewers saw at CNN, Spitzer said that at Current he’ll have “a bit more latitude to be openly ideological.” He explained that “the avowed purpose of Current is to be progressive politically,” though Spitzer promised rigor and said that he would hold both sides to a high standard of facts and accuracy.

Spitzer expressed his opposition to the austerity politics currently dominating Europe and impacting U.S. policy, and noted its basis in faulty economic thinking. A man who knows his way around economic theory, Spitzer stated his strong support of the Keynesian perspective in economics—a viewpoint that is still too rare the mainstream press, despite an economic crisis that provided compelling evidence that Keynes’ assessments of the instability of markets and the need for government intervention were spot on. As Spitzer sees it, economic theory is, in its essence, “an effort to understand what works” and what frameworks best correspond to reality. “The interesting thing about Keynes,” said Spitzer, “is that Keynes is right – and you pay more attention to people who are right.” He reflected that before the European austerity programs went into full effect, it was the economists with Keynesian leanings who accurately predicted the sad result: fewer jobs and economic stagnation. Explaining what else Keynes got right, Spitzer noted that “giving tax cuts to certain groups as opposed to wealthy has benefits.” Spitzer observed that “it’s harder to practice Keynesian economics than it used to be, but Keynes continues to be the most important thinker in many, many decades.”

On the political front, Spitzer gleefully expressed his appetite for following the presidential horserace. When asked about Romney, he quipped, “I think you need to be a weathervane to understand Mitt Romney. You never know which way he’s going to go.” Conceding that Romney is an “extraordinarily intelligent individual” Spitzer said that “it will be interesting to watch as he navigates the Scylla and Charybdis of being a progressive one minute, a conservative the next, and answering to special interests.” He condemned Romney’s “newfound austerity”, noting that “if you look at what Spain and Greece are going through, that’s not so good.”


AlterNet / By Lynn Stuart Parramore

Posted at April 25, 2012, 6:37am

Today's Top Stories