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How to Start a Republican Fist-Fight

Reported by Judy - June 17, 2006

Neil Cavuto almost had a fist-fight on his hands Saturday (June 17, 2006) during "Cavuto on Business" when his Republican panelists took opposite sides on whether George Bush's tax cuts have been good for the economy or have caused record deficits. His usually reliable Republican guest, Ben Stein, criticized the Bush tax cuts, and that was almost more than Cavuto could stand.

Cavuto pegged his show on the premise that viewers should "forgot talk that tax cuts only help the rich. There could be proof now that they help all of us.”

Since the Bush tax cuts of 2003, Cavuto said, without citing a source, the economy has grown by 20 percent, 6.2 million jobs have been added, and tax receipts are up 30 percent. Cavuto failed to say if the 6.2 million jobs was a net figure, what the average salaries of those jobs were, or what the federal deficit is.

Jim Rogers, author of Hot Commodities, took the usual GOP line that, "we can spend our money better than Congress can, better than George Bush can, or better than Clinton could. We spend our money and it makes things better.”

Token Democrat Gregg Hymowitz countered that low interest rates may have helped the economy more than the tax cuts, and that the economy might have done even better had the tax cuts been targeted to the middle and lower class rather than to the rich.

Even Tom Petrie, of Petrie Parkman & Co., noted that higher energy prices are behind the growth in revenues, prompting Hymowitz to note that the energy sector does not reflect how the average American is doing.

That was all predictable, until Ben Stein, author of How Successful People Win, complained that the federal deficit has grown by 2.5 trillion since 2001. Sensing he was losing control, Cavuto interrupted Stein with, "We had a recession that year."

Stein responded, and Cavuto jumped in again with the Bush administration mantra: "We had a recession, we had an attack, and we had a war."

Still Stein pushed ahead, saying, "Dear Friend, Neil, the economy is 20 percent bigger than in 2000, income tax receipts are still less than they were in 2000." The tax cuts may have stimulated the economy, he said, but they also created a giant deficit so that U.S. Treasury bills may be downgraded in 2012 to near junk-bond status. "We have got to put our fiscal house in order in this country. Pretending tax cuts will do it is just not going to work," he said.

John Layfield, radio talk show host and wrestler, came dangerously close to blaming Republicans, saying, "Our government is as fiscally irresponsible as it has been in recent years," but settled for blaming "Congress" without specifying that it's Republicans who are in charge.

"It's Congress' fault. They keep spending all this money and George Bush keeps spending all this money. We got to stop the spending," Rogers said.And when Stein admitted he was for raising taxes, Rogers pointed to Democrats as the bogey men saying, "You’re telling me Teddy Kennedy can spend my money better than I can?"

Rebecca Gomez, Fox News business reporter, attempted to contribute to the discussion by noting that the administration is "comfortable" with the level of spending and deficits. But Stein rightly dismissed her statement of the obvious, saying, "The fact that people are comfortable doesn’t make it right. They were also comfortable invading Iraq and that turned out to be a big mistake, too."

Cavuto, who obviously hadn't anticipated having to fight off Stein in addition to Hymowitz on an issue such as this, noted that the deficit now is a smaller portion of the economy than it was at the height of the Reagan deficits. Apparently, he thinks that's a good thing but comparisons to Reagan deficits are nothing to brag about in my book. Especially since the author of voodoo economics, David Stockman, has admitted that he knew big tax cuts would never balance the budget, although he predicted the opposite at the time. Why doesn't Cavuto compare Bush's deficits to the Clinton surpluses?

Who knows what made Stein leave the security of the GOP fold? He obviously has little faith in the U.S. economy. When it came time to recommend stocks, Stein urged people to buy ishares Emerging Markets (EEM), which invests in foreign economies through companies such as Samsung Electronics and Taiwan Semiconductor.

Can it be good for W if the smart money admits on Fox News that it is fleeing the U.S?

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