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Barnes Calls the Kettle Black

Reported by Nancy - March 10, 2005 -

Since I skipped the "All Stars" on 3/8, I decided to grit my teeth & document it on 3/9. Fortunately, Krauthammer was NOT on the panel. Unfortunately, Fred Barnes was (along with Mara Liasson & Mort Kondracke). Liasson finally managed to say something that didn't agree with what everyone else was saying, but Barnes indulged in his usual Dem-bashing.

At 6:42pm, following clips of Representatives Charles Rangel (D-NY) & Jim McCrery (R-LA), Hume noted that Dems are opposed to private accounts & read (what he said were) excerpts from a memo written by Carville & Greenberg for Democracy Corps: "voters are looking for reform, change & ideas", Dems "seem stuck in concrete." Liasson said that Dems are taking a lesson from history (citing GOPs' stalling re BClinton issues), but maybe the wrong lesson (citing the creation of the Dept of Homeland Security, which Dems first proposed & GWBush opposed but eventually got credit for). She also pointed out that Bush hasn't come forward with a plan, although Hagel & Graham have. Kondrack agreed that "there is no plan", then qualified that by saying "there is no Democratic plan for anything that anyone knows about" & "there is no sense that they [Dems] stand for anything" which is "the problem Carville & Greenberg are pointing out." Barnes said Dems are "purely reactionary" & characterized the Dem attitude to SocSec as "we don't have to do anything" & "Social Security is fine, there's no crisis." Barnes added that "selling private accounts is the way to get Soc Sec reform" because then the "unfunded liablity shrinks." Liasson noted there has recently been a "slight movement in rhetoric" as Bush stopped using "crisis" & "ownership" while Dems started saying there is a "problem." Kondracke said the "fundamental problem" is that Dems "don't trust markets" & claimed that every index fund over time "makes more morey than" SocSec.
[Comment: Barnes calling Dems "reactionary"? The pot is calling the kettle black.]

NOTE: The full article & analysis by Carville, Greenberg & Shrum (Hume didn't even get the authors right) is available as a .pdf download at the Democracy Corps website.

At 6:51pm the panel indulged in some chitchat about Kondracke's book "Saving Milly" (about his wife's battle with Parkinson's disease), which has been made into a CBS movie, & about Kondracke's experience as a consultant on the movie. Hume showed a clip of the movie's version of the "Beltway Boys" & a poster about the Beltway Boys from the movie.

At 6:54pm the panel discussed the bankruptcy bill, very briefly. Kondracke noted that the Schumer amendment was defeated, so the bill is probably going to pass. He described the bill as limiting the "ability to walk away from debts," saying that "people who make more than the median income" will have to pay back some of the debts they owe, adding that Dems were "trying to carve out exemptions" for medical needs, etc. Liasson called it a victory for GOPs & business, noting that "consumer groups lost this one." Hume asked if it would have any effect on interest rates, & Barnes said "probably none" but we'll "have to wait & see how it plays out."

NOTE TO READERS: Any input about Kondracke's claim that index funds over time make more money than SocSec would be greatly appreciated. True? Not true? Too vague to be substantiated or disproven? Please stay on topic (Special Report's coverage of any of the above topics). O/T comments will be deleted. Please use the O/T category from the list at right to post unrelated comments. Thanks.