Morning Joe Yearns for ‘Big Government’ Socialism

Near the end of MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Thursday, co-host Joe Scarborough eagerly welcomed far-left author Kurt Andersen on the show to whine about working-class voters backing Republicans, scold Democrats for supposedly not being radical enough on economic policy, and demand that the incoming Biden administration exploit the coronavirus pandemic to force “big government” socialism on the country.

After Scarborough touted Andersen’s latest book, Evil Geniuses, which slimes conservatives who believe in capitalism, the veteran left-wing journalist laughably claimed: “…in the ’80s and ’90s, we sort just went along with the right and Democrats and liberals really, economically, became no different than Republicans….there was no national economic left anywhere near power.” Andersen bitterly lamented that “every up-and-coming Democrat of the time, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, my friend Bob Kerry, Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown, we could go on and on, really were not of the economic left anymore.”

 

 

In response to the ridiculous assertion that politicians like Jerry Brown “were not of the economic left,” Scarborough lashed out at voters who back Republicans:

But we’ve gotten to a point now where people who desperately need health care insurance vote against the party that will get them health care insurance. People who live in rural communities, where rural hospitals are being devastated by Republican cuts, continue to support those Republicans. And continue to support Republicans that vote for the largest tax cut ever for – not for working class Americans or middle class Americans, but for the richest Americans.       

Fellow co-host Willie Geist chided “people voting against their own economic interest” before turning to Obama administration economic adviser Steve Rattner to hopefully ask: “Do you see now, over the horizon, an era of more government, big government? You know, you just had the massive COVID relief package pass through the Congress. Joe Biden says that’s just a down payment to give this economy life…”

Rattner rushed to agree with Andersen and hail big government:

Look, we certainly need more government and that’s something I think Kurt and I agree on, that government is not the enemy, government should be part of the solution. And we have walked away from government, to a considerable extent as being part of the solution. There is certainly a lot of sympathy, a lot of eagerness on the part of many Americans to see government play a more robust role.

However, he complained: “But you still do have this very strong opposition to the idea of big government. The Republicans are still quite – they may be in a minority – but they’re still quite powerful, able to block a lot of things. And they are still opposed to big government…”

Moments later, Andersen thanked Rattner for advancing the cause of government overreach: “And I do want to point out that ten years ago you and President Obama of course saved the auto industry in a big wonderful government intervention way that worked with the UAW as a significant part of that salvation. So bravo.”

The anti-capitalist advocate then detailed his conspiracy theory:

…during the ’70s, spontaneously and through the work of the evil geniuses and their think tanks, in media, and elsewhere, really did help change the paradigm, really did convince, I think falsely, a lot of people that, “Oh, no, no, big government is bad, government is bad, taxes are bad,” all of those things that allowed the economic right to hoodwink the good people of America to vote against their economic interests. So – and that’s sort of how we got here.

Like Geist had earlier, BBC America anchor Katty Kay, wished for the U.S. to embrace socialism: “And whilst many European countries have been kind of demonized for being socialist in America….I just wonder whether the crisis that COVID has put us into might actually change some of that equation….And now that we are in a moment where deficits are kind of back in fashion and social welfare programs may be back in fashion because of COVID, are we gonna see some kind of shift here in the States, economically?”

Andersen excitedly declared: “I think it’s an absolute opportunity. And I think that we saw, you know, a big bipartisan majority in Congress last spring say, ‘Yeah, here’s 2 trillion.’ Bring it on. The government has a gigantic role to play in terms of intervening in the marketplace. So absolutely.”

While all the MSNBC leftists were chattering to each other, the federal government set a new spending record – over $1.3 trillion dollars during the first three months of the 2021 fiscal year (October through December).

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Here is a transcript of the January 14 segment:

8:34 AM ET

JOE SCARBOROUGH: All week we’ve been talking about the economic backstories to how we get to the current state of, well, the economy as it is, with massive income equality. Today we’re looking at what happened in the ’70s and the ’80s, when according to our next guest, hippy to yuppy liberal baby boomers were complicit in a raw deal replacing the New Deal. Best-selling author Kurt Andersen joins us now. His latest book is Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking America, A Recent History. Also with us, former Treasury official and Morning Joe economic analyst Steve Rattner. Katty Kay with us as well.

(…)

SCARBOROUGH: I was always struck by Bobby Kennedy’s coalition, he had working class white people and working class black people. There’s that moving moment in a book written about Bobby where the train – his train with his coffin goes past, and there are black people on one side of the track saluting, white people on the other side of the track saluting. As it goes past, those two sides walk away. The Democratic Party hasn’t really regained those white working class voters in earnest really since Bobby Kennedy’s death. It can’t all be because of a handful of evil geniuses. What does the Democratic Party need to do other than write books like “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” and ask the questions as elitists, “Why are these working class people too stupid to vote for us?”

(…)

KURT ANDERSEN: I would say I feel and many in my – the affluent part of my generation who were doing fine as the steel industry imploded, as manufacturing imploded, as outsourcing happened and manufacturing went to China and all the rest. And yeah, we shrugged, we thought, “Oh, this will work itself out someway.” And instead of helping to work it out, as happened in the rest of the rich world in the ’80s and ’90s, we sort just went along with the right and Democrats and liberals really, economically, became no different than Republicans. We became effectively the liberal Republicans and there were no – there was no national economic left anywhere near power. And so, all we had as our differentiation was, “Oh, no, we’re better on cultural issues and social issues, racial issues.” Which is true and different, but not on economics.

So for a lot of voters, as you know, I think they began looking at the two parties in the ’90s and said, “Okay, one of these parties doesn’t like the same people I don’t like, and otherwise they’re –  both of them are indifferent to unions, to workers rights, to giving me a leg up, so I might as well go with the people who don’t like them as much.”

And yeah, I was – again, I wasn’t in politics, but I was certainly – I absolutely was complicit. I was, you know, happily for Gary Hart despite the fact that in the ’70s and ’80s he came into politics saying, “The New Deal, nah, nonsense. That’s old school, that’s gone, that’s obsolete. We don’t need that anymore.” Along with every up-and-coming Democrat of the time, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, my friend Bob Kerry, Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown, we could go on and on, really were not of the economic left anymore. And as the union movement and organized labor was crushed and all kinds of protections and help for the middle and working class were kind of regulated out of existence, you know, we – the Democrats didn’t really put up a fight. And that’s a problem. That’s a problem that helped us get where we are in terms of insecurity and inequality and it didn’t help the Democrats politically.

(…)

SCARBOROUGH: But we’ve gotten to a point now where people who desperately need health care insurance vote against the party that will get them health care insurance. People who live in rural communities, where rural hospitals are being devastated by Republican cuts, continue to support those Republicans. And continue to support Republicans that vote for the largest tax cut ever for – not for working class Americans or middle class Americans, but for the richest Americans. So in rural America they’re paying more in income tax than Amazon is.

WILLIE GEIST: Yeah, the numbers are staggering. And as Kurt points out, often people voting against their own economic interest hearing a message from the President that’s actually not being delivered by the President or by the Congress.

And Steve Rattner, we just got across the wires another terrible jobs number, 965,000 jobs gone in the last – excuse me, new people added to the unemployment roles in the last week. Do you see now, over the horizon, an era of more government, big government? You know, you just had the massive COVID relief package pass through the Congress. Joe Biden says that’s just a down payment to give this economy life, to attack this COVID catastrophe that’s now as bad as it’s ever been. What will these first months and maybe even the entire term of the Biden presidency look like?

RATTNER: Look, we certainly need more government and that’s something I think Kurt and I agree on, that government is not the enemy, government should be part of the solution. And we have walked away from government, to a considerable extent as being part of the solution. There is certainly a lot of sympathy, a lot of eagerness on the part of many Americans to see government play a more robust role. But you still do have this very strong opposition to the idea of big government. The Republicans are still quite – they may be in a minority – but they’re still quite powerful, able to block a lot of things. And they are still opposed to big government, except when they’re not, when it helps their own interest, but for the most part, they are. So the idea that we’re gonna go back to the ’60s and pass Great Society programs like Medicare, Medicaid, I think is highly unlikely in this world. Hopefully we’ll be able do something – do something for the people who are being left behind at the moment.

(…)

ANDERSEN: And I do want to point out that ten years ago you and President Obama of course saved the auto industry in a big wonderful government intervention way that worked with the UAW as a significant part of that salvation. So bravo. The role of big government in making our economy work for people other than the rich.

But yes, there are problems. And yes, as we talked about the other day, there was technological change and all the rest. But you see how the U.S. did it, proceeded to deal with all of those changes from 1980 on and how the rest of the world did it, and they did well. There are all kinds of good capitalisms in the world and then there’s ours, less good, more insecure, bad capitalism, if you will. So – and, by the way, George McGovern 1972, Richard Nixon, that was a freakish time. And I would argue – we could argue for hours about whether Mike Dukakis and Walter Mondale were particularly economically left because by that point, during the ’70s, spontaneously and through the work of the evil geniuses and their think tanks, in media, and elsewhere, really did help change the paradigm, really did convince, I think falsely, a lot of people that, “Oh, no, no, big government is bad, government is bad, taxes are bad,” all of those things that allowed the economic right to hoodwink the good people of America to vote against their economic interests. So – and that’s sort of how we got here.

And then, of course, we just – you know, I remember, again, thinking, “Oh, this Jesse Jackson stuff in 1988,” if we’re talking about presidential elections, he was a full-on Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders leftist back then. And remember thinking, “Oh, that’s ridiculous. That can’t happen. That will never happen.” And as long as Democrats keep saying, “Well, you know, we can’t really present a distinct vision rather than an incrementally softer slightly nicer version of our hellaciously rough and unfair version of free market capitalism,” well, they’re never going to get there. And so whatever lies and bigotries the right pulls up to – to get, you know, two-thirds of white working class men to vote for their candidates, they’re gonna be able to as long as there is not a – a different vision of how to go. The vision that, as we talked about earlier in the week, Donald Trump was selling to them, just didn’t make good on, didn’t enact, didn’t act on.

SCARBOROUGH: Katty Kay is with us and has a question. Katty?

KATTY KAY: Kurt, I wonder how much you think that what’s happened during COVID might change the dynamic? You know, we have seen in Europe that we’ve had the German government covering 75% of salaries, and they’ve now committed to do until next August at least. Denmark has done the same kind of thing. And whilst many European countries have been kind of demonized for being socialist in America, or that’s been the kind of fashion over the last decade or so, I just wonder whether the crisis that COVID has put us into might actually change some of that equation. We found out in the 2016 election that many people that voted for Donald Trump were not actually economic conservatives, they wanted to protect social welfare programs, they didn’t mind running up deficits. And now that we are in a moment where deficits are kind of back in fashion and social welfare programs may be back in fashion because of COVID, are we gonna see some kind of shift here in the States, economically?

ANDERSEN: I think it’s an absolute opportunity. And I think that we saw, you know, a big bipartisan majority in Congress last spring say, “Yeah, here’s 2 trillion. Bring it on.” The government has a gigantic role to play in terms of intervening in the marketplace. So absolutely. And by the way, I can’t – I must again and again, as you know, tell Americans: Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, not socialist. Among the freest free market economies on the planet, they just happen to have big social welfare states.

(…)

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