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Greed Trumps Principles

Reported by Judy - September 17, 2005

The panel on the Fox financial show "Bulls and Bears" Saturday (Sept. 17, 2005) showed the split personality of Republican economic philosophy when it tried to discuss what it termed "The New Orleans New Deal."

Besides spending a lot of time giggling like school children over who was acting like a Democrat by advocating government spending, the panel danced around the irony of government-hating businesses making money off government spending.

Host Brenda Buttner's subject was whether the stock market will like George Bush's plan for rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

Tobin Smith, editor of Changewave Research, said, "All I'm hoping is we get the new, New Deal. ... We can't go back to the old stuff and do it badly. ... If we try to do the old stuff and do it badly, the market is going to hate it." Of course, Smith never named which programs in the New Deal were done badly, so his answer was so vague as to be totally worthless as a gauge of market sentiment.

Bob Olstein, president of The Olstein Funds, had to joke that, "I am definitely not a Democrat" so that everybody could giggle about that, and then say that in the short term, the government spending would be good for the economy. I'm not sure what struck them so funny about the possibility of being a Democrat -- maybe they couldn't imagine Fox having more than one or two token Democrats on the show.

Only Gary B. Smith was willing to say that the extra $200 billion in spending is "potentially" a federal budget buster, unless Congress is willing to cut spending in other areas. "I think the budget would be in tough shape," he said, noting the market picked up late Friday when Bush said he would not raise taxes to pay for the rebuilding. Gary B. Smith was not even willing to say the spending will be a stimulus to the economy since the money is just going to repair something that was broken and once it is fixed, the economy will only be back to where it was before.

While the mention of the prospect of raising taxes is enough to send nearly every regular on this show into apoplexy, the prospect of cutting taxes sends them into near ecstasy. After Gary B. Smith's mention of a tax increase, Tobin Smith brought the panel the good news that while Bush has "lost momentum" to get the extension of his tax cuts, he will have it back in 30 days and the tax cuts will be extended as planned. What a relief. Surely the good news that the cut in estate taxes will be extended is going to spur a lot of re-investment in New Orleans, perhaps using the slogan: "Invest here -- the millions you make will be tax-free after you die in the next storm."

The panel, which was clearly uncomfortable with the idea of government spending money, then went on to suggest which stocks are going to make money off the recovery and suggest investors buy them.
If Republicans are people of such "moral clarity" and high principles, wouldn't they consider it unethical to invest in companies that make money from government spending, if you truly believe that government spending is something Democrats do, and thus clearly wrong? Isn't that like investing in a company that smuggles drugs when you claim to be against drug use?

A party that elevates greed to a virtue, of course, can't be too picky about where the greedy get their profits.

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