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Paring Back The U.S. Government

Call it extremism, but conservative Yuval Levin doesn’t apologize. The U.S. government  needs a radical paring back, he says. We’ll hear him out.

The U.S. Capitol building. (AP)

The U.S. Capitol building. (AP)

For decades, Democrats and Republicans argued over how to divide the pie and burden of national spending and entitlements.  Now there is a significant wing of the GOP that wants to blow up the pie.  To radically pare back government spending.  To hit the reset button on America’s social compact and economy.

To get lean, they say, to get competitive in the 21st century.  President Obama says let’s invest in our common future.  They say sure, but only after an obsolete governing model is gone.  And they want Mitt Romney to say that, too.

This hour, On Point:  the unvarnished call to radically remake government.

-Tom Ashbrook


Yuval Levincontributing editor, The National Review and The Weekly Standard. New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote that Levin’s piece in The Weekly Standard titled “Our Age of Anxietywas the “definitive essay” on how America’s welfare state model was in its death throes.

Robert Kuttner, co-editor of the American Prospect, and author of A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama’s Promise, Wall Street’s Power, and the Struggle to Control our Economic Future.

From Tom’s Reading List

Weekly Standard “There is something very strange about the 2012 presidential race so far. The election comes at a time of extraordinary public unease, which clearly demands some response from the political system, and especially from the men running for the highest office in the land. But the two presidential candidates are both running campaigns oddly detached from what is rightly worrying voters. ”

National Affairs “The most significant cause runs deeper. We have the feeling that profound and unsettling change is afoot because the vision that has dominated our political imagination for a century — the vision of the social-democratic welfare state — is drained and growing bankrupt, and it is not yet clear just what will take its place.”

The New York Times “What Descartes was doing for knowledge, others would do for politics: sweep away the old precedents and write new constitutions based on reason. This was the aim of the French Revolution.”

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  • Lichtenf

    Where are the arguments against this guys agenda? Make government smaller? I doubt the people making millions/billions of dollars from the government will give up their cash – they will buy this small-government guy. The poor, the middle class, and the cheated don’t have lobbyists. The make governmant small argument is “let the money/power people feed off the taxpayer’s trough”.

  • Victor Vito

    This is a GREAT idea!  Let’s start by reducing our military by 75%.  We outspend China almost 100-1 so a 75% reduction should be a no-brainer.  Let’s start with the twelve Nimitz Class aircraft carriers.  Large nations would line up around the block to buy one or two of these from us.  I know China and India would buy a few each.  We will save a boatload of money if we step back from our policy of global hegemony…  How exciting!!

    Oh wait a minute…  You mean you want to shrink government by reducing and eliminating programs and entitlements for the poor and elderly to reduce taxes on the wealthiest among us?!

    This dude does NOT abide. 

    • William

      I agree that the U.S. Military budget needs to be reduced, overseas bases closed, ships and troops brought home. But some serious cuts and elimination of agencies and programs that have failed needs to happen too. The Depts of Education, Energy should be eliminated since they have failed in their primary missions. Salary caps on all Federal employees, reduction in force, etc..needs to be applied to all remaining agencies. Relocate 50 percent of Federal agencies in Washington D.C. to other cities like Detroit, Cleveland etc..that could use an economic boost and jobs. We don’t need and can’t afford this bloated, corrupt federal government.

      • Victor Vito

        I don’t disagree with much in your response.  I like the idea of moving some of these things out of DC and to recovering urban areas.

      • http://twitter.com/weblizard weblizard

        Nice try- unfortunately the world needs to move to sustainable energy, not poisoning the only environment we have to live in chasing the remaining supplies of fossil fuels. I know the existence of a Dept. of Education must be annoying, since the least educated tend to vote Republican, but the nation cannot afford increasing the ignorance out there…

        • William

          Can we afford more “successful” agencies like the Dept. of Education?

        • Gregg

          The Department of Education doesn’t teach kids squat.

    • Gregg

      The military is spending $26/gal. for Biofuel, and the libs love that increased military spending for some reason.

  • Questions For Guest

    Questions  for the guest:
    To make the government small would the guest agree to “immediately” drop his medical insurance and pension plan that is provided by the government? Also, collect no accumulated money from the pension plan?
    To make the government small would the guest agree to “immediately” drop the medical insurance and pension plan that is provided by the government for his colleagues that have pre-existing conditions? They could set an example and show us how to shop the free-market monoply for a good buy on insurance.
    To make the government small would the guest agree to “immediately” take a 20% pay cut and decrease, by a large amount,  the amount of money he spends on expenses? Also, when the American people’s personal wealth falls would he agree to decrease his pay accordingly?
    To set a good example would the guest agree to not make any money through government after he leaves office – no government lobbyist work or anything related to government connections that would financially benefit him?

    • Hidan

      It’s always cut government workers and programs Congress and there Aides don’t Benefit from. I yet to see congressional republicans and there Aides take massive Pay cuts or offer bills that serious reduce the perks or pay for themselves and there aides.

      • TFRX

        Or their voter base.

        Don’t neglect the huge amounts of “other”ness in the GOP’s message about where “your tax dollars are spent”.

  • Al in Ventura

    Mr. Levin has recently sensed in his bones that for the last 40 years the middle class has been stagnating. I think that revelation has come to the average American for quite some time; for two generations, in fact. Jimmy Carter’s assessment of America in a malaise is true again. America didn’t see a galloping economy in the 1970s, we saw a Viet Nam War economy come to a screeching halt and a space program collapse, snuffing our two technology-generating industries. After seven years of stagflation, a new economy and Federal Reserve policy on the Yen put us back on our feet.

    Deregulation has led to some innovative monetary policies. The Thrift Savings bail-out actually taught us how to handle the unregulated derivative market melt-down. The airline deregulation of the 1980s led to the collapse of several companies and second careers for many of its retired workforce. The hands-off regulatory approach to innovative accounting led to the Enron-Worldcom one-two punch of bankruptcies and golden parachutes. I expect to see more people in their 70s greeting me at Wal-Mart as a spinoff of the most recent Wall Street debacle. I am already seeing my share of homeless fully-employed families. Rent goes up when no one can live in the foreclosed houses.

    The idea that catastrophic care is all the poor need is akin to sending a person with a cold into a meat locker for a day. We can’t cure the cold but we know how to cure pneumonia. A patient won’t come in when the sickness is mild or the injury is slight, they will wait until the problem becomes severe because that is when the insurance will kick in. Essentially, that is where we are now.

    More than one administration has waxed poetic about new fuel technology making us greener and richer. Recall the fuel cell revolution of 10 years ago? Fossil fuel replacement was, is, and will be out of our reach as long as we ship money to Exxon and Chevron to look for oil.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Couple this idea with the next hour’s show (Lyme disease) and you have a recipe for national disaster. No doubt Yuval would pare down the CDC and NIH and then we’d have not only an epidemic of Lyme but no centralized place to collect and disseminate information about it.

    Oh wait, he’d outsource the information clearing house function to FOX no doubt.

  • AC

    this should be interesting…..

    • Hidan

       …….Government welfare is over……47% of Americans don’t pay taxes……..Americans are over taxed………Corporations pay far too many taxes(60% pay zero)……Time to cut subsidy going to the poor and the lazy…..(excluding Phama,Farmers,Oil,Tech,WS,etc.)….Deregulate so the market can grow(shhh what 2008 crash it was all minorities fault and government for forcing Banks not to discriminate).

      Remember this is the guy who was needed to moderate a event on why Liberals are such Fascist.

  • Hidan

    Incoming GOP congressman wants his free government healthcare now!

    Maryland Rep. Andy Harris is outraged to
    learn that he’ll be uninsured for almost 30 days


    Remember the above is a small government republican.

  • Jasoturner

    A good place to start might be to identify what it is we want our government to *do*.  Do we want to support the largest military on earth (by far) more then we want to provide, say, oversight of food quality through the FDA?  It’s easy for folks to scream “cut, cut, cut, no tax, no tax, no tax”, but you have to show your hand at some point.  What does government do that is expendable?  If you can get the majority of Americans on board regarding some particulars, I’ll take a hard look at joining the team.  Whether I fully agree with the majority opinion or not.

    What I find intellectually dishonest is people shouting about government waste and fraud, with no details ever being presented except for stupid anecdotes like expensive military toilets that may or may not be indicative of things in general.

  • Hidan

    2006 White House Office Staff List – Salary



    According to the WP this is the entire list of White House Staff Pay list which Yuval Levin apparently isn’t on. Nor on open Secrets or legistorm yet what’s claimed on his profile is extremely hard to verify what he’s actually done and how much of our tax dollars he was paid.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Do we need government workers to control wildfires?
    Do we need government workers to inspect bridges?
    Do we need government workers to regulated toxic waste
    Do we need government to regulate ruthless bankers?
    Do we need government to regulate our food supply so that our babies, kids and pets are not poisoned by food manufacturers?

    If you believe that business men are inherently moral and altruistic, you need to wake up and see the consequences of greed and malfeasance. Ask all of the business folk on the gulf who were devastated by the BP oil spill. The 2007 meltdown was not the work of charitable public interest groups.

    The incompetence of government due to politics is only exceeded by the incompetence of big business… who now, by the way, run our government.

    Privatization time and again cost more, degrades services and ends any accountability whatsoever.

    Schools, correctional institutions… you name it: one failure after another: the only ones who benefit are the businessmen who win the sweetheart deals.

    America’s problems are not due to the L word: stunning ignorance, naivete and hubris have engineered our downfall. A week government produces a weak country in which chaos rules. Do you really want a 3rd world America?

    Snap out of it or be doomed to repeat history, over and over and over.

  • Hidan

    What type of guy is Levin?

    The one that actually goes to events like Liberal Fascism

    and joins,moderated a panel to discuss “Liberal Fascism” http://www.eppc.org/conferences/eventID.131/conf_detail.asp Could one imagine NPR or Onpoint having a guest on that goes to events on Conservative Fascism(BTW NPR had on the author of the book at least 3 times to promote his book)?

    Yep attended a event for a book with multiple Scholarly flaws


    Than Onpoint quotes David Brooks piece about Yuval Levin, amazing enough it just so happens that David Brooks attended and provided commentary for the event Heroic Conservatism on 

    Thursday, November 15, 2007
     5:30 PM and David Brooks piece is dated May 24, 2010.

    So Mr. Brooks praise a guy he known for 5+ years and yet somehow it should be shocking?

    Levin does get owned here on his criticism on Obama and Stem Cell Research by Michael Eisen

    Interesting to see how/if Tom calls Levin on the Bull he will spew(if his past comments and article is his basis)

    • Ray in VT

      I really find the argument (if one can even call it that) that fascism is a liberal movement to be extremely pathetic.  One who argues that either has a poor understanding of history or is being purposefully misleading.

      Greyman referred me to Hayek a couple of weeks ago, specifically the chapter from The Road to Serfdom entitled “The Socialist Roots of Nazism”.  I gave it a read, and I found it interesting in parts.  My thesis was that if he called the Nazis socialists than he essentially viewed all totalitarian movements in the same light, and, quite frankly, that’s pretty much the argument that Hayek makes. 

      He talks about Marxism, which is his liberal or radical socialism, and then he identifies the fascist movements as, in part, coming from the line of what he calls “conservative socialism”.  I don’t know if this approach is a libertarian view or if it is a part of German historiography, but it is clear that Hayek uses the term “socialist”  to mean all types of collectivist or statist systems, which is not at all how the term has been defined in the English speaking world.  We define socialist more in terms of Marxism, with its class war and public ownership of industry, and have a separate classification of what Hayek called “conservative socialism”, which, as a term, doesn’t make any sense in English given the accepted definition of that second word in English.

      Bottom line, though, I think that Goldberg’s work is pretty useless.

    • TFRX

      I flat out don’t trust quoting David Brooks as an example of anything.

      Well, except as an example of how to make today’s version of politically unpalatable tomorrow’s accepted media norm of “centrist”.

  • Giyakker

    I read the article in the Weekly Standard. The same old dribble about big government and how shrinking it will cure every ailment. Got Hemorrhoids, take a tax cut and fire some city workers to cure it. 

  • Still Here

    I can’t help but conclude that those opposed to rationalization of the government’s size are somehow benefiting directly from its extreme largesse.  Why else would they go right to the extreme argument that cuts to government will target essential services?  It’s pathetic really.  States and municipalities who have to live within their means, unlike the federal government, have been successfully rationalizing their size and services with no ill effects whatsoever, no public uproar, and essential services still in place. 

    • Adks12020

      There’s a big hole in the “states do it why can’t the feds” argument.  The Federal government subsidizes many of the states most expensive programs like education, healthcare, transportation, etc. so it’s a bit disingenuous to claim that the states are better at living within their means.

      • Still Here

        That’s part of Fed mandates; obviously we’re talking about non-mandated activities.  

      • TFRX

        And, of course, we can’t discuss that without talking about how blue states’ tax dollars end up in red states’ coffers.

    • nj_v2

      Unencumbered by facts or reality, Still Mindless proffers, “States and municipalities who have to live within their means, unlike the federal government, have been successfully rationalizing their size and services with no ill effects whatsoever, no public uproar, and essential services still in place. ”


      Stockton largest U.S. city going bankrupt


      State Budgets: The Day of Reckoning

      But in the two years, since the “great recession” wrecked their economies and shriveled their income, the states have collectively spent nearly a half a trillion dollars more than they collected in taxes. There is also a trillion dollar hole iln their public pension funds. 


      Tiny New England City Faces Big Financial Problems

      Rhode Island’s Central Falls has filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. With an annual budget of under $17 million, the densely populated community of roughly 19,000 people is facing $80 million in unfunded liabilities for pensions and retiree benefits.

  • nj_v2

    I hope someone rhetorically tears this intellectually disingenuous Levin character to shreds.

    These “small-government” Reagan acolytes have a lot of gall. For decades, they reduce taxes on the rich and corporations, deregulate the financial sector, push “free-trade” agreements… 

    As a result, income of the well-off has skyrocketed while the middle class has stagnated. Yet-to-be prosecuted banksters who created the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression remain free to game the system for profit. With great sucking sounds, jobs fly across the oceans.

    Then the free marketeers like Levin demonize the “liberal welfare state” which provides the crumbs to people struggling to survive the oligarchic dystopia their policies have created. 

    • Brothersower88

      Disregarding Mr. Levin…

      Both the left and right have “reduce[d] taxes on the rich and corporations, deregulate[d] the financial sector, push[ed] “free-trade” agreements…”.  It was under the Clinton administration that Glass Steagall was removed.  I just want to make sure the point that both Dems and Reps are included in your definition of “Reagan acolytes.”

      I agree that it is truly sad that the crimes that caused the recession have not been criminally prosecuted.

      Hmmm… “crumbs” might not be an accurate way to describe someone’s welfare income.  I was working 40 hours a week, but that put me just over the line for welfare programs.  If I had cut my hours back, I could have almost doubled my discretionary income with the aid of welfare systems.  I don’t think one should generally benefit from reducing their productivity.

      In the UK right now, a single unemployed mother of 4 makes more money off of their welfare system than a married working couple.  While this isn’t a direct correlation with the US, it is something to keep in mind.

      Should there be a safety net to help catch people who are in need? Yes.
      Should there be incentives to encourage reliance on that system? No. 
      Should it be uncomfortable enough to encourage the beneficiary to move beyond needing it? I would suggest “Yes”.
      Will there always be exceptions? Yes.

      • nj_v2

        Clinton is not “the left.” Democrats are not “the left.”

        • Brothersower88

          I thought we were using general sweeping statements.

          If you would like to narrow your definitions, I will follow your lead.  Perhaps you could indicate who are the “Reagan acolytes” you mention.

          Also, I didn’t say Clinton himself, but his administration.  My implication was the government during his presidency, but I did a poor job of clarifying that in my initial statement.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Let’s see, Wall Street and lobbyists of large international businesses think we are ALL so invested in their success that they can have total control EVEN in a democracy.  If only our Social Security were also invested in for-profit corporations,  we’d all absolutely see the light and vote for regulation as set forth by the CEO’s (and lobbied into law on their behalf).  
        Fighting for “control” of our, um, prosperity?      What I’m fighting for is Letting Go of the Controls, and letting the market forces (I mean democratic forces, not the statistical bottling into voting blocs of our greed), letting the grassroots find their roots once again.  
    Right now big government, to the extent we have it, has been ordered up with smoke and mirrors in mind, a menu selected a la carte by the uber-rich.  
       Yes, somehow that is Too Big.  Trickle-down, schmickle-down; used car salesmen of ideas for easing and oozing prosperity from the thrifty to the profligate.  (I’ve gone too far, but that’s the gist of it.  Let up on the little people.  Keep all the regulatory pieces in the moral sphere, such as controlling what you do in bed.  No, no, no, where am I going with this; am I turning into a partisan hack?) 

  • jefe68

    Mr. Levin has been on before. Why is he back? What does he have to say that he did not say before. He, like his right wing compatriots have no solutions other than cutting taxes and making government so small it’s a useless entity that might be able to govern. 

    You want to see what happens when government loses revenue go to Alabama’ small towns.


    This tired argument about small government is getting old.
    The issue is not smaller government, but one that is run well.
    Not by special interest, or politicians who are more interested how they can game the system to get rich than governing.

    Our nation is fast becoming a plutocracy and you have Yuval Levin on about making government worse?
    Even though On Point has on Robert Kuttner as a counter voice one has to ask why do a show on this tired old ideology that is proving to be a huge failure. Look around the nation at states and local governments that have gone this route and you will see social failures, lots of it. Texas comes to mind.

    You cannot have civilization without paying for it, which means taxes.

    • notafemnista

      Sorry, the NYT piece doesn’t fly  1)The woman missed her court date and apparently made no effort to re-schedule or determine when she could resolve this, knowing full well she had the citation for court.  Hopefully she didn’t assume that because the date was wrong it would just  “go away”.    2)She drove a second time, despite having had her license revoked, in addition to the original citation.

      Unless the implication is somehow the state should ignore people who ignore the law, it is unclear how this is anyone’s fault but her own.

      • jefe68

        The article was about the fees and fines added to the misdemeanors. If you read it correctly, which it is clear you did not, you would have seen that every case was a clear violation of the 8th Amendment. Do you know the 8th Amendment or only the ones that feed your dogma.

        The article does fly, it’s about the state using it powers and then handing them off to private entities to inflate fines and fess from people who are not well off enough to pay them.

        By the way this happens in NY State as well as Alabama. Except Alabama has taken this to a whole new level and seems to be something out of a Dickens novel.

        • notafemnista

          I did read it correctly.  Somehow you think that if someone can’t pay their way, well then they shouldn’t have to…someone else can just take care of it.  She could have avoided the entire mess by re scheduling her court date and not driving on a revoked license.  She made those choices not the state.   It wasn’t as though the state of Alabama said oh lookee here, this gal doesn’t have any money let’s give her a ticket, make sure she doesn’t show up for court and then throw her in debtor’s prison. 

          It is the Left’s absolute willingness and in fact anticipation of removing responsibility from the individual that is so insidious.   

      • http://twitter.com/weblizard weblizard

        “Unless the implication is somehow the state should ignore people who ignore the law”-sure as hell worked for Wall Street…

    • Nh3man

      Levin just wants to return to the 1920′s or maybe 1890′s. I just want to go back the Clinton era.  

  • John

    Indeed, let’s cut government spending and government intrusion into our lives. Here are some places to start: cuts in our massive military spending; end tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations (yes, these tax breaks are a form of government spending); put an end to laws that interfere in the private lives of individuals (such as those that discriminate against gays). 

    Somehow, I doubt that these are the sort of government cuts that Levin supports. It’s interesting (and seems obvious to anyone paying attention) that the only cutting that Levin and his ilk pine for is the kind that benefits the wealthy (i.e., themselves and the people who pull their puppet strings).

  • Victor Vito

    Maybe we should eradicate the corruption first, so we can better judge what to do with what remains.

    • Brothersower88


  • Prairie_W

    Let’s start with removing justices Scalia and Thomas even as preparations to for permanent closure of the Pentagon are under way.

    Some of us would be glad to run with our machetes through the House when they’re all on the floor voting.

    Anyone want K Street?  And C Street?

    I dibs the White House, but only to steal Bo!

  • Brothersower88

    Will someone please post the definition of “Big & Small Government” so we can all work with the same understanding, please?

    So far this discussion looks like a plate of spaghetti instead of a waffle.  Everything is connected, but it can be helpful to look at individual issues one at a time to get any depth.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Just remember to consider the impact of cutting back entitlements – people like to pretend the buck stops with all these folks getting money they don’t deserve – and ignore that all these folks (many who have paid into the system for years themselves) immediately go out and spend pretty much every dollar they receive. A billion in food stamps one month is a billion dollars in business receipts the next.

    It may be necessary, but don’t be surprised when those entitlements shut down, and millions of jobs and huge numbers of businesses follow them.

  • Still Here

    I welcome sequestration, it’s the only way government is going to be rationalized.  Waste, fraud and abuse should be low-hanging fruit, but supposedly Obama’s all over that.  

    • Greg

      Yeah, like the RIght isn’t all about getting rich off the government.

      • Still Here

        Yeah, that’s why we want to cut it to its minimum.  We know the Left is looking for handouts constantly since they can’t produce anything on their own.

        • Adks12020

          Ah yes, bring back the most tired and completely incorrect argument ever. 

          Government subsides, tax breaks, etc. all go to those lazy lefties right? Give me a break.  Fossil fuel producers, factory farms, and other large scale industries get help from the government despite the fact that they are ridiculously wealthy and profitable…but they aren’t lazy right? They are the “job creators” that don’t actually produce jobs of course.  They produce lots of profits though…plenty to pad their wallets and to lobby for more tax breaks and subsidies from the government.

          • http://twitter.com/weblizard weblizard

            : fist bump :

        • Ray in VT

          Well, why not let the red states start paying their own way?  They complain about big government while being the biggest pigs at the trough.  Let’s see how well Halliburton and the defense contractors do without their government contracts.  Let’s see how how people making upwards or over 500k/year would like it without the tax breaks that allow them to pay little to zero taxes through various tax schemes.

          • http://twitter.com/weblizard weblizard

            Have you noticed how the red “we don’t need no stinkin’ affordable healthcare” states will get far more of the ACA money than the blue ones?

      • Brothersower88

        This is a RIght and LEft problem.  The RIght generally go in wealthier than the LEft, but they both come out better than when they went in.

        PS  Why are we capitalizing the first two letters of RIght and LEft?  Typo, or was their a meaning that I missed?

  • Chris B

    They should have combined this segment with the next hour.  Right wingers and disease infested bloodsucking ticks, much like the corporate ticks they shill for, seems like a match made in heaven.

    • Still Here

      Right, the producers are the bloodsuckers; not the lazy parasites sitting on their couches waiting for the next government check.

      • TFRX

        Someone has replaced our beloved troll with a clever deadpan spewing a spot on collection of lame-ass stuff as if this was Redstate.

        Moderator, please adjust as necessary.

      • Prairie_W

        Like those defense contractors?  Our farmers?  Cattle producers?  Or do you mean the tax breaks given to… um let’s see … “entrepreneurs” like Mitt Romney?  Or to churches?

        • Still Here

          I’d ask you to consider the direction of cash flow in your observation and rethink.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The American dream, to begin with, was about entitlement, righteous entitlement.  We are here to gratefully repopulate the land where the natives have lived with minimal “footprint” for hundreds and thousands of years.  We will leave such a footprint that it will be visible from space long after we have chemically altered the environment to where we become a memory in the mind of the Creator.  But we are entitled to this, it is a City on a Hill, and prosperity marks us as better than our predecessors.  Something like that.  Let those laggards fall into the abyss, into hell’s kitchen.  We are sorting the weak from the strong.  The strong are entitled.  The weak are not.

        That’s my take on entitlements.  Americans rich and poor believe they deserve the pots of gold at the feet of the rainbow, even if they have to fight for those pots.

  • Charles Vigneron

    How do you achieve such ends and maintain the Social Contract? This thinking in the past has toppled governments & societies.
    There is a fundamental unfairness to the younger generation without the same Contract. Debt slaves.
    It sounds a fine notion, but the monied have rigged the game. How many fees and losses have your retirement plans taken? That value was not lost, just moved up the food chain.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Funny it’s the primarily House clamouring to do this, but the House hasn’t done squat in their own “house”, although they have the power to do so. Their pay, perks, healthcare, and pensions are still quite intact.

  • Brothersower88

    I would still find having a definition of “Big and Small Government” to be beneficial to the discussion.

    It would have been nice to include on in the prompt for the discussion.  So many comments on so many topics, it is hard to stay focused on any single line of thought.

  • AC

    this is a silly way to say what we really should be doing is shrinking our population – we don’t need so many people. Now, if you just ‘cut them loose’ and ‘pare back’ services & basically call out the death squads, it won’t end well……

  • Quadraticus

    It’s great that there are people finally willing to talk about this *and* getting airtime, but I think it’s mostly unnecessary: substantial paring down of government will happen because the modern social welfare state is unsustainable, period. A much smaller welfare state is tenable, but not the monstrosity we currently have in which people who aren’t actually in need are the major recipients of transfer payments.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Much of the push is just talk – there’s a slew of automatic cuts ready to kick in that they agreed to before. And there’s already  much talk to start undoing them, beginning with defense spending.

  • Michiganjf

    The wealthy don’t owe a thing to society, which had absolutely NOTHING to do with their ability to amass wealth and lead priveleged lives.

    Get rid of government… those with money can now afford to pay for what they need… the rest will just have to fend for themsleves!

    Maybe THAT will encourage the non-wealthy to work a little and aspire to wealth! 

    Right conservatives??!!!

  • MrNutso

    Lie.  ACA will reduce the deficit.

  • Greg

    What liberal welfare state?

    There isn’t one in America.

    This guy is another propagandist for the criminal elite who want you to be their serfs.

    • MrNutso

      WTG. You got mentioned!

      • Greg

        Yeah, and the truth hurts (the propaganda they love us to believe)

  • Charles Vigneron

    These problems can also be explained in President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, 1961.

  • Andrea

    Who decided that “remaining competitive” should be the goal of civilization?

    • TFRX

      The same people that think that the only way to remain competitive is to make what was a 40 hour job a generation ago into a 60 hour job today.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Competition is an essential driver of culture.  The alternative is stagnation.

  • Michiganjf

    If any part of the  “welfare state” is failing, it’s ONLY beacause conservatives have done everything in their power to ENSURE that social compacts are undermined at every level!

    • Greg

      The Right wing motto is:

      Government doesn’t work, elect us and we’ll prove it.

      • Still Here

        You’re kidding, it’s self-evident.

        • Ray in VT

          You’re correct, it is pretty self evident.  That is exactly the Right’s position and the outcomes that they’ve achieved.

  • TFRX

    This guy’s talking points are boilerplate right-wing, no matter how much he feints that “Romney could do more to promise to cut gov’t; Obama is hopeless.”

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    There you go… “bringing more of the economy into the public sector” – just another shill pedaling privatization for corporate America as the solution to our ills.

  • Aranphor

    Baloney. All he wants is a country based on We the Business now We the People. He can hide his intent all he wants but he’s a deregulation champion and deregulation is why we had the 08 crisis, not because of entitlements.


  • Troll_Doll

    “Liberal Welfare State”? Welfare and social support are for everyone.Maybe he means Corporate Subsidies and Tax breaks for the wealthy. Im turning off now, See you next hour.

  • TFRX

    Ahh, here we go: “Social Security and Medicare are inefficient.”

    No. Healthcare is inefficient. Medicare is damn efficient, more so than any private insurer. Even when a Teabagger doctor in Texas defrauds the government in the name of austerity.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Lies – Medicare has functioned way more effectively than insurance based healthcare.

    • MrNutso

      Medicare Advantage being a prime example.

      • Greg

        Medicare Advantage dumped tax dollars into subsidizing private insurance companies over Medicare. 
        The Rights foray into privatizing Medicare.

  • Lensmaker

    absolutely we should pare back.  Our poor, hard working, hard working bankers have suffered enough and high end welfare is clearly and historically the way to go.  where are we without ‘Our’ pyramids !? 

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    If what he is saying is correct, why are healthcare costs so much less in Canada and Europe?

  • Greg

    These shills for the elite get paid well to shill.

    Listen to what they say and know it is all about making you the serfs/slaves of the criminal elite.

    • Still Here

      I think you’re resentful of the fact that your ideas having no economic merit whatsoever.  This would appear to be the case with your “skills” as well.

  • Greyman

    “Independence Day” 2012: at least partly seriously, Americans can look this July 2012 at the stark differences in two US states, viz., Wisconsin and California. After much tumult, Wisconsinites (Wisconsinians?) are poised to build their state economy without extra danger or distraction, while Californians are faced with dismantling programs and with deep deep debt afflicting state government ($16 billion+, more than Jamie Dimon watched go down the sink) and local governments both (I looked at four websites and still can’t say just how big Stockton’s hole is, does anyone here know or have they heard?). Continued massive government spending, Federal state local combined, whatever the intent, because the rate of expenditure remains so far out in front of the ability to collect revenues needed to sustain raging rates of expenditure and debt, inflicts further costs and incurs or posts further debt burden in a US economy which continues to swallow the massive debts accumulated from the preceding decade. Mr. Levin may be guilty only of severe understatement.

  • MrNutso

    Why do we need to choose private insurers?  So I need to retire so I can spend all day shopping for health care.  Competition is not good for everything.

    • Greg

      Insurers don’t want seniors. Thinking for only about 2 seconds tells you why. That’s when most people need healthcare, when they get old.

      • Still Here

        Pathetic, where in the public sector or academia do you reside?  If you price the risk correctly, any risk is worth taking.  

        • Greg


  • Mattwade25

    This Levin fella is pushing the same policies that have hollowed out the middle class and enriched the 1%. The government is the only institution large enough that can pull us out of the current crisis we are currently in. Pushing the “ignore” button.

  • Speakerisawindbag

    OK Mr. Smarty Pants,

    Name the “inefficiencies”?

  • Tina

    We don’t need growth, growth, growth.  We need to provide a structure that allows healthy homeostasis across the life span and as much homeostasis as is possible when disasters (weather-related, medically-related, etc.) occur.  Taxes are not bad when they provide services thru out the populace.  We need to study the successful Social Democrat societies, that are also doing great economically, meaning Sweden, Denmark, Finland.

    This man seems to be suggesting an opposite route, and I believe he is placing economics above the life cycle:  a grave mistake that Conservatives make constantly! 

    • Guest

      Absolutely! I wonder how many people bother to read other countries newspapers? Prague is what I read last night.

      Thank you for your suggestions and I agree that we need to be studying Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Germany, et al.

      We no longer produce enough Doctors, for example. Labor jobs require highly skilled computer proficient people and we are not producing those individuals. We will have to import H -1B in order to fill the openings we have today.

      Be wary of the masses…

  • Erin in Iowa

    Having the elderly be “healthcare consumers” is a great idea! Because insurance companies are clamoring to get at that particular expensive demographic.  Give me a break.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    What this guy is pushing is the new Medicare – one that the middle class and poor can’t afford to use, but one that will protect a millionaires millions from being “wasted” on their own healthcare.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Newsflash – The inefficiency in the healthcare system is in the private sector from insurance companies to hospitals which benefit from a symbiotic relationship at the cost of society.

  • http://twitter.com/weblizard weblizard

    I don’t know about your guest, but I’ve been paying into SS my whole working life- collecting it when/if I retire is not abusing an entitlement!

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    The Republicans have that issue of forgetting history, fact, science, and experience (and that’s from Republican Norm Ornstein).  They forget why we have Soc Sec, Welfare, Medicare & Medicaid; that the government is why businesses like Intel and Texas Instruments existed and succeeded because they bought virtually every computer chip for years; that charity is not enough  – that the government gives almost $700M to Catholic Charities alone – yet Obama gets accused of threatening religion; that the wealthy are getting huge tax breaks in the name of trickle down economics that have have over 30 years to prove itself and has only proven to not work and make for an astronomical income gap.  

  • Jon Sachs

    Here is a member of the Bush administration that left the country and the world economy in ruins telling us we need less government regulation.

  • John

    I notice no mention of healthy cuts in corporate subsidies. Part of the problem the guest is ignoring is the quagmire of profit to be made in the healthcare markets. If regulation is taxing the industry, I am sure the $300 medically approved toilet seat can cover the margins. 

  • ulTRAX

    In the mind of the far Right, a “reboot” is code
    for the rush to the bottom. They’ve deliberately sabotaged the US Treasury now
    for 30 years hoping to undermine those New Deal and Great Society programs
    they’ve always loathed. Now they’ve done their dirty work, they’re going in for
    the kill. 

  • Diane

    I don’t hear Mr. Levin saying a thing about the pervasive corporate welfare that is helping to bankrupt our country, our states and cities. From egregiously enormous tax breaks and “incentives” to gift-wrapped legislation written for the benefit (and probably written by lobbyists) of corporations, corporate welfare is hurting our country and economy far more than “entitlements”. Re: healthcare costs – Until health insurance and healthcare providers are non-profit, i.e., until their raison d’etre is no longer providing profits quarterly for their shareholders, our healthcare system will grow increasingly unaffordable for 95 percent of citizens.

    • Greg

      And you won’t. Because his masters love that welfare.

    • Rob


  • Aranphor

    WHY I have issues with the guest is this. “Mitt Romeny Will…”

    He’s a Mitt Romeny Spokesman disguised as a guest.

    • cwh

       I didn’t hear that quote. I heard him say Romney was “better suited” to enacting his proposals. Big difference.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    There are plenty of models out there with minimal government entitlements – they are usually referred to as third world countries.

  • JW_Colorado

    How would a pairing back of the Federal budget apply to Homeland Security, the defense budget, NSA, TSA, etc.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think I heard Levin suggest exactly the reset I have in mind for health care, but I don’t hear how to regulate business the way he had in mind.  And I doubt any Republican would come up with it.

  • Rob

    this guy wants to eliminate the “welfare state” and continue what he did when he worked for Bush. He wants to create an oligarchy controlled by the 1% who are nothing more than modern day robber barons.  THAT is the source of America’s “anxiety”. Why doesn’t he speak about the huge welfare being given to the likes of Exxon Mobil, Halliburton and all those private prison companies? Total nonsense.

  • Michiganjf

    Right-wingers highjack the messages of somewhat sensible voices like Levin’s to impose idiotic, backward ends.

    What does Levin have to say about those conservatives who don’t have a clue what their backward ideas would do to the absolute detriment of us all?

    • TFRX

      What do you mean “hijack”? Is he some tweed-wearing professor, some sort of Chauncey Gardener fool or Jefferson Smith idealist, who doesn’t know how his work is being played?

  • Mike G

    Every generation prior to the ‘Tea (or ‘Me’) Party’ has ALWAYS left more at the table then when they arrived! Not only has this resulted in our ‘Independence’, suceeding in several World Wars (and avoiding one with the former USSR), and the current (crumbling) Infra-Structure of Roads, Educated Work-Force (schools), etc. Now the Tea-Party wants to take ALL the accumulated wealth of the past and leave future generations to fend for themselves!

  • GMG

    Give me a break.  This is the same conservative blather we’ve been hearing for decades.  We should have learned our lessons by now.

  • Livin_Large

    It’s not appropriate to use the term “Conservative” with guys like Levin — he’s a Right Wing extremist. He’s got an attitude, but he’s really light on data points.

    • TFRX

      Hey, “conservative” used to be a word that had meaning.

      I’m a lefty who thinks the popular, Beltway Inbred, and political use of “conservative” is a “them” problem, not a “we” (lefties, journalists) problem.

      They made their bed; they had eight years of GWB and cut absolutely nothing.

      • TFRX

        (Not that I don’t agree with your contention.)

  • Greg

    The criminal rich try mighty hard to brainwash the masses.

    Not working anymore.

  • Jay

    The theory sounds nice, but I kind of cringe at the thought of my 90 year old Mother making free market choices on health care. I imagine a shift with every marketing call.

  • John Cane

    What would Mr. Levin recommend to even out the income/wealth imbalance that exists today?  Aren’t his ideas just a way for the 1% to lock in their gains of the past 30 years?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    What about the robber barons of the late nineteenth century? Our present big government comes out of efforts to restrain them.

  • Mattwade25

    The inefficiency in the health care market is in the private sector. And when government tries to impose some efficiency all we hear is lies about “death panels!”. Right wing ideology always trumps common sense.

    • Guest

      Silly statement and poorly said. An absolute and an extremist position. Fail !!!!

    • cwh

       The inefficiency in h/c is the result of a payment model that is based on volume of care rather than patient outcome. And Americans have slurped the kool aid and now equate good health care with tons of tests. Massachusetts, the only state that already has mandated coverage, is starting to deal with this problem. Doctors need to be paid differently. They shouldn’t be rewarded for ordering tons of tests or referrals to specialists.

  • Aranphor

    The issue isn’t a Business and Government working together it’s remembering that OUR GOVERNMENT is WE THE PEOPLE. NOT WE THE BUSINESSES…

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    “Pro-market regulation ” is Right-wing code for moving more jobs off shore, poor wages and conditions, no job protection through no unions, no EPA. Again, he “forgets” that the EPA was a Republican idea and we don’t have kids eating lead and rivers on fire; that the FDA was put in place by a Republican so we don’t have formaldehyde in milk and medication that’s not snake oil; and that Glass-Steagall kept the banking and investment industries from taking down the economy for over half a century and look what happened when it was taken down. 

  • SS_Boston

    I am a bit frustrated with the argument/approach that capitalism as it exists today doesn’t need adjustment — only government. If we need to remake govt for the future then I think it follows that the processes of business need adjustment as well.

  • Chris

    Ending the crackpot high-speed rail scheme in California would be a good start.

    • Greg

      Americans are going to be without any transportation in about 20 years if we don’t build rail.

      The age of the personal automobile is coming to an end.

      Enjoy going nowhere.

    • TFRX

      Yep. Too many empty roads in the Golden State jes waiting to be driven on.

    • Still Here

      You’re going to piss off union members and ignorant environmentalists.

    • Craig from Omaha

      Hell no!  We need a tax structure (gasoline, motor vehicle taxes on inefficient SUVs, oversized pickups and such) to fund a national high-speed passenger rail system.  Go to Germany and France and see how high-speed rail works.  Siemens is introducing its 3rd generation of trains right now.  They would be happy to build this technology here in the USA!

  • Cicin101

    Is health care insurance or HC delivery a growth industry? Do either really compete in the marketplace?

    • TFRX

      Good question, but I want to tangent: Does HC being a “growth industry” have anything to do with delivery of healthcare in a more timely, efficient, life-and-limb-saving manner?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Taking out the younger people increases Medicare cost?  How about adding more and younger people, namely all of us?

    • Greg

      Ha ha ha. He just made the argument for that didn’t he.

  • Mike

    Yuval Levin has the same policy challenge as many financially conservative theorists–he starts with the premise that we people are here to serve the economy rather than the other way around.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Your guest has a lot of words but very little content – “reform” is a little insufficient as a plan.

  • Levinisawindbag

    Don’t blame the old, the sick or the poor.
    Blame Bush and his former cronies for squandering our future to pay for 2 wars and for creating a new world order where corporations and the rich rule.

    • JustTheFacts

      And church said, “AMEN!”

    • Zig

       How much money was squandered in 2 wars? What percentage of our GDP is it?

  • Michiganjf

    Levin is right…Boehner WAS willing to compromise somewhat with president Obama and the democrats.

    THEN the right wing of his party got hold of him, AND SO MUCH FOR COMPROMISE!!!!

    • Still Here

      Wrong, Congressional Democrats doomed it.  Pay attention.

      • Michiganjf

        Do you REALLY think anyone gives credence to your comments here anymore?

        I’d say “play again,” but don’t.

        • Michiganjf

          Wait… of course you THINK that.

  • Diane

    Without government regulations, unfettered capitalism leads inevitably to monopolies and malevolent, self-serving, self-perpetuating oligopolies.

    • Still Here

      Please, strawman argument.  

      • PaulCJr

        I don’t know Still Here. If you  look at history, particularly during the laissez faire economy of the early 20th century, Diane point is kind of proven.

        • Ray in VT

          Exactly.  I was just speaking with my boss this morning regarding this subject.  If you want to know what unregulated markets here in the U.S. lead to, then take a look at the Gilded Age and the abuses that it produced.

      • Adks12020

        ….or an apt description of the United States before the 1930s.

      • jefe68

        Nobody expects the Gilded Age!

  • PaulCJr

    What if we are just reaching Adam Smiths described end of growth? Maybe the economy, both here and in the world, has reached it’s limits of growth.

  • Rob

    where is the huge surplus that Bill Clinton left us Mr. Levin? Could it be in Iraq? With Halliburton, Exxon Mobil, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, AIG etc..? All a result of your deregulate/ screw-the-poor/ small govt model. What planet is he living on? This keynesian economics model is a failed proposition. We tried it and it drove us over a cliff leaving the working poor and middle class holding the bag.

  • Gail

    I agree heartily that education is a huge piece of this problem and I wonder what ideas he had about change in this area?

  • Chris

    Young adults want simple, affordable catastrophic coverage but can’t get it because of politically motivated mandates.

    • Greg

      There is no such insurance.

      You can be guaranteed that any such policy would be essentially worthless if said young person came down with cancer or was severely hurt in an accident.

      • TFRX

        The joke in my sister’s workplace (insurance) goes “If my insurance covered nothing, would it be free?”

    • jefe68

      This kind of policy would mean a high deductible, so in short you would be paying for nothing.
      Also define catastrophic? Does this mean breaking a leg?
      Does it mean a car accident? Does it mean cancer?

      Are you aware that if you break your leg skiing that it could cost upwards of 20K in costs?
      This kind of mindset is not helpful nor is it very smart in terms of dealing with cutting cost.

    • notafemnista

      No they don’t.  No one wants that.  Simple affordable catastrophic coverage only kicks in if one gets a catastrophic ailment or accident.  It doesn’t cover prostate exams, birth control,well baby checks, eye exams, breast implants, ED meds, pap smears, insulin, Aricept, Advair and on and on and on and on. 

      What ALL Americans want is the gold medal Cadillac of insurance and they want someone else to pay for it.  It is obvious that economics is lost on Americans when they fail to grasp the most simplest of concepts of putting more demand on a system (in the form of services provided) will drive up the cost.  

  • Leigh

    If you listen to what Mr. Levin is saying, Democrats and Republicans are not that far apart on substance: I am a liberal Democrat who would like to see Medicare restructured and our education system meaningfully reformed. But what I find absolutely maddening about Republicans is their absolutist rhetoric such as “getting rid of the social welfare state as we know it.” It’s hard not to think that the Republicans are making a political power play. They should just come to the table and find common ground with the Democrats!

  • Mattwade25

    All you need to know about Mr. Levin’s think-tank, the Ethisc and Public Policy Center is that Little Ricky Santorum was a member until 2011. 
    Santorum directed the EPPC’s “Program to Protect America’s Freedom”. Barf on my shoes. 

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The problem that we have right now is that government and business both favor the large over the small.  Flip that orientation to favor the small over the large to reform America.

  • Btvdan

    I am sympathetic also.  I think it’s at least in part about spending money well.  What is efficacious healthcare?  We all too often made bad assumptions about healthcare.

  • Greg

    No growth? Then stop the million of legal immigrants a year into this country. Stop the millions more of illegal immigrants.

  • Ray in VT

    Mr. Levin talked about moving away from the fee for service/volume model in American health care, and that is certainly how we are trying to move in Vermont, but the problem is that when people from the policy field talk about moving in this direction, then they get hit with accusations of rationing attempting to control people’s health care.  I agree that there are some real problems with fee for service, but I don’t think that we can get the system away from that model without some powerful force, probably the government, leading the way.

  • John Cane

    This guy sounds like a flailing grad student drowning in his attempt at a dissertation defense! 

  • Mary

    Mr. Levin’s  ideas do nothing to deal with the really loose interpretation of what is a patent, and  “patent trolls” or companies/ individuals who patent anthing, and then sue anyone and everything claiming that person’s patent violates/infringes the patent they hold..

  • MrNutso

    Stop outsourcing high paying jobs.

  • Revelz

    The only way to determine what’s needed is to unpack and address the term “labor saving.” First, we must confront the flipped demographic reality that “labor saving” — which is a virtue when workers are rare — has become a vice, due to increased lifespan and healthiness. Second, we must confront the different meanings it has for capital and labor. Capital understands “labor saving” as “spending less for labor costs” while workers want it to mean “makes work physically, mentally and emotionally safe to perform.” It is not so much capital that becomes evil in this environment as its determination to fund innovations that render displace sustained human employment. Instead of decrying capital per se, we need to reject that class of scientists and managers who embrace any new device that puts people out to pasture.

    A good first step would be to invent a new term, “disemployment,” to represent policies and inventions that shrink the job pool. There is a natural unemployment rate — transitions, disabilities, stopping out, students — and it is only for those in these worker-generated conditions who should be labeled as “unemployed.” If someone is qualified to work, trying to work, and cannot find work, they are not “unemployed,” they are “disemployed,” and those who have done so need to be labeled as criminals. They are robbing familes of their wealth, and children of their future.

    • Prince Prospero

      The fundamental question is: how do we enjoy unemployment, and more of it, more?  Many of the evils in our world are due to jobs, and I would be happy to see the back of mine (as I shortly shall) were it not for my terror of penury.

      We could start by having effective and adequate policing of our poorer neighbourhoods, because otherwise poverty represents not only want but immediate, physical, danger.  This cannot be accomplished by a force acting like an occupying army, as those never get adequate enough intelligence to be effective…and it also seems unlikely when there’s lots of money to be made on illegal drugs to purchase weapons and police officers.

  • Aranphor

    SO in essence he’s advocating doing away with Welfare for We the People and replace it with Welfare for We the Business. All fine and dandy if We the People were also benefiting from We the Business, but we know Trickle Down means someone is peeing on you…

  • Bethrjacobs

    cut back by stopping the cowardly drone atttacks especcially those planned for teenagers and a  teennage girll

  • Al Hansen NH

    Come on Tom,
    Clinton handed a surplus to Bush. Two unfunded tax cuts, two wars one by choice. The free market financial system putting the whole world in recession.  Yes we need to reform SS and medicare but the current problems go to the tax cuts wars and wall street.

    • MrNutso

      Both wars were choice.  We could have easily negotiated with the Taliban to get OBL, or just waited him out, which is what we did anyway.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    We can’t get back post WWII growth – unless we’re going to destroy every other 1st world manufacturing base in the world – which is where we were after WWII. It’s not going to happen again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

    Are the policies espoused by the guest not similar to the austerity plans implemented in major European counties that are currently begining to peter out? Did these same policies not tank Ireland, once hailed as a tiger economy?

  • GMG

    The German government seems to enable prosperity pretty well, and they have a very generous “entitlement state.”  To call the US an “entitlement state” is absurd. Just ask someone actually trying to survive on these allegedly generous entitlements.  

    I think a strong argument could be made to the contrary – if we had a national health service, for example, the US would be much more competitive in terms of attracting businesses that would no longer have to fund expensive health plans for their employees.

    • Ray in VT

      Plus you have the Scandinavian counties who pretty much to the same thing.  They have a strong “entitlement state”, but also have very successful industries and high levels of business competitiveness.

    • Olaf Stapledon

      A mixed economy is very convenient in a particular way:  when we discuss how how prosperous our nation is, conservatives can say that is due to our ‘small, saving remnant’ of capitalism which is so powerful that it can do all that; when discussing our defects, they can put that down exclusively to our ‘overwhelming socialism’.

      (Liberals do tend toward the opposite vice, but I don’t see it as happening so extremely because 1. we are American, and so buy into most of the American myths about how prosperity is created, some of which are even true, and 2. I said ‘we’, so of course I see less ill in mine own group than in our opponents [note: 'opponents', not 'enemies'---now is the time to remember the difference...I want conservatives to be happy and prosperous, not least because I think that will make liberals of more of them].)

  • Greg

    Really? 1.2 trillion a year on the military?

    About 400 billion on “Homeland Security”?


  • lodger

    The postwar prosperity he lauds had everything to do with the fact that Glass-Steagall prevented the kind of financial fraud that almost blew up our entire economy.

    The Eisenhower administration basically built the highway system by 90 plus percent top marginal tax rates.

    Both of these ideas are now anathema to his party.

    It is completely disingenous for him to overlook these factors and blame everything on ‘entitlements’.

  • JustTheFacts

    This is exactly my problem with Ashbrook.  He lets this guy begin his premise with a “lie” unchallenged.  We didn’t fall from a surplus to record breaking debt because of medicare.  It was because of a huge defense budget.  It was 2 wars, but no money to pay for them.  These Republicans keep trying to dress up a lie.

    First tell the truth, then I’m all ears.  

  • Baranowski170

    We have a disfunctional congress which is primarily concerned with partisan politics.  Neither side will work with the other to solve problems because they each fear having credit go to the other party.  Solution:  Get rid of the power base in congress.  Do not allow more than 2 terms for the Senate and House.  This will help eliminate the continuing pork barrel legislation and the outrageous in fighting between the parties.  No member of congress should be allowed to continue for a lifetime and recieve a pension, which, in many cases, is larger than the salary they recieve while in congress.

  • Ellie

    The Republican party has found an intelligent, articulate apologist to promulgate its lies. The American political system has become corrupt almost beyond repair at this point. The Republican agenda is to create an total oligarchy, and it has advanced this agenda in a frighteningly effective manner under Bush and the current congress and Supreme court. We citizens are increasingly powerless as corporate power dominates. 

  • Joe in Philly

    1. “Allow innovation.” Great idea, but the reality is that the jobs that result from innovation go largely to foreigners. Just look at the solar power industry or the manufacturing practices of Apple. This is both the great reality and the great irony. Result: people with good ideas and capital will be rewarded, all others will have to be happy with poorly paid service jobs. 

    2. Inefficient health care. Yes, major reforms are needed but this will never happen with all the entrenched special interests. 

    3. Education. Desperate reform is needed here. But the reality is, states like Massachusetts, have one of the highest standards of living and most highly educated populace, and (not coincidentally) the best public education system in the country. Compare this to Louisiana, which has one of the highest illiteracy rates and drop-out rates in the country, and (not coincidentally) the lowest tax rates. Any monkey can connect the dots here.

    4. “Explosion of productivity increases.” Translation: fewer jobs!

  • Mattwade25

    I recommend that Mr. Levin read Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality. The conclusion, GOP policies have destroyed the working and middle classes, who drive the economic growth of the nation. We are heading towards a future where everyone is poor and no one can afford to buy anything, which will destroy the wealthy class as well. The wealthy elites need a strong middle class to support them.

  • MrNutso

    Total defense spending has increased even as it share has reduced.  And who says defense is the 1st priority of government?  It’s mentioned third in the preamble to the Constitution.

  • John Cane

    Defense is NOT the first duty of government! NATIONAL SECURITY IS! National Security includes a socio-economic system which includes the interests and needs of everyone!

  • Craig Reisser

    Levin has it backwards.  We need to look at Western countries that are culturally similar to us that are better positioned for the challenges of the 21st century.  From my personal experience and fluency in their language, I nominate GERMANY!  A business sector that is innovative and globally competitive – CHECK.  A health care system that is efficient and based on non-profit, government regulated health insurance companies, die Krankenkassen and a payment system that is NOT fee for service – CHECK.  A population that is fiscally conservative and adverse to credit card debt – CHECK. (Germans and Austrians usually pay from bank account transfers).  A transportation infrastructure that is updated and includes an electrified high-speed passenger rail network and integrated mass transit systems with electrified commuter rail, subways, streetcars and bus routes in all of their major metropolitan areas – CHECK.  A public education system that is efficient and includes both technical education and affordable public universities – CHECK.

    This is diametrically opposed to the Libertarian, 3-corner hat Tea Party venues that would roll back the Federal government’s domestic sector to the late 19th century, but saddle us with the expense of our current military-industrial complex.

    I was a Fulbright Fellow in Germany, 1980-81.

  • Gonosgc

    On your terrific show I’ve never before heard a guest with more fluffy, common, and useless diversionary rhetoric. If he cannot give ONE specific example of what his proposed “restructuring” of Medicare would look like, please just send him home. He ‘s a fraud.

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

     Talking heads on the Right keeps saying that the rich will help the poor through charity and that’s clearly not true. If it were true then the government wouldn’t have to give to charitable organizations to help keep them going, give tax breaks for those that donate, and we’d have less  people seeking out Medicaid, Medicare, Food Stamps, and other social welfare programs. Instead charitable organizations are struggling to meet goals, food pantries are struggling to keep shelves stocked, and emergency rooms are filled with uninsured people because they know they are guaranteed treatment.

    What color is the sky where the Republicans are? It’s blue where I am.

  • Dfrenkel

    This speaker is misdirecting from the real problem which is medical costs. America is spending 0ver 17% of GDP on healthcare costs vsersus Australia 9% and the rest of the major countries which range from 9-10%. Those countries all have single payer government systems supplemented by private health insurance plans. 50 million uninsured arriving in the ER’s means that we fail to prevent much more costly complications. The private sector health insurers do not have the right incentives to correct this. The HMO’s do and structures like that.
    Visit http://www.vimeo.com/channels/NEHCEN to see the Chairman of the AMA identify in excess of a trillion dollars a year worth of savings that can be made through prevention, which in turns means everyone needs to be able to afford preventive care.

    • Greg

      Aspirin are expensive in American hospitals. 

      And so are health insurance executives.

    • Still Here

      Name one Australian drug company, name one Australian biotech company, name one Australian hip or knee joint manufacturer, name one Australian spinal implant manufacturer, name one Australian respiratory device manufacturer, name one Australian diagnostic instrument manufacturer, name one Australian heart valve manufacturer, name one Australian artificial pancreas manufacturer …

      • jefe68

        Novogen pharmaceuticals.

        There are also a lot of manufacturing companies and technology companies.

        Australia a big mining country, they have a lot of companies that are in this sector.

        They happen to on the leading edge in this area.

        That you see fit to dump on Australia says more about you as narrow minded misinformed ideologue than you know.

  • Gonosgc

    I was referring, of course, to Levin as a fraud, not Kuttner.

  • Witterquick

    I Yuval’s only objective is financial growth, then go with unconstrained capitalism.  But, we know what that leads to (Financial Savings and loan scandal, Tech bubble, housing bubble).  Watch “Inside Job” that answers a ton of questions on what happens when government has been neutralized (corruption and wealth disparity).
    Did Yuval provide a financial disclose (i.e. is he receiving income from any financial interests that would be a conflict of interest)?

  • Mattwade25

    Thank Jebus for Robert Kuttner.

  • Michiganjf

    GREAT opening comments, Mr. Kuttner!

  • Ellen Dibble

    Could Levin repeat the health care prescription?  I thought I heard there should be a baseline, something like public health blanket, which would replace the emergency-room care now legislated.  And above and beyond that, people could pick coverage from a competitive marketplace.  

    Right now, the coverages you get have to fit a one-size fits-all state mandate, as I see it, in effect Rationing Panels, and you may buy gold-plated insurance that is covering lots of other people, certainly not your needs, but you do it out of public responsibility and also knocking on wood, preferring this to a medical bankruptcy down the road — also a public responsibility issue — while say your issue is infected teeth or something like that, something that is not covered, and will have to wait till you have that Medicare umbrella (or get so stripped by medical bills that you become a charity case).  

  • nj_v2

    Mr. Levin says that economic growth depends only on two things? Size of labor force and efficiency? Really?! 

    Do raw materials and energy just materialize out of thin air? What roles does Mr. Levin think unsolved waste and pollution issues play? 

    Religious adherence to the theology of “growth” allows one to ignore inconvenient facts.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    There you go again. What about the bus driver? Our tax code has a structural problem: it is biased towards the rich as it encourages people to gamble rather than invest. Paul the paver pays 2 and 3 times the total taxes on income from laying asphalt in August than Bob the Billionaire who takes stake in companies for as long as a few seconds. That’s just not right! 

    • TFRX

      That makes me wish there was a real Paul the Paver manually laboring, with no delusions about his tax rates.

      Cos we could use more people like that in Congress. Or even state leges.

  • jefe68

    Mr.Levin conveniently left out taxes when he was going on about Medicaid. He forgot that capital gains is now at an all time low.
    Taxes have gone down in the last 40 years. So there is less revenue.

    He’s not offering any solutions. I do agree with the idea of a more efficient government that works better. But that’s a hard nut to crack. Consider how military spending is allocated. Right now almost every state has a piece of this pie. It would be almost impossible to make the huge cuts we need here. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Over the past 30 years the richest and those wanting to become the richest have used globalization and exploding US debt to make huge amounts of money. And they’ll continue to do so until they suck this country dry. Prosperity often occurs by taking someone else prosperity and making it your own. And that is what has been happening to the US middle class.

  • GMG

    Mr. Kittner has it exactly right.  The conservative talking point machine Levin lives in a ideological dream world, populated by nice ideas that have no basis in reality.

  • Rob

    Republicans in power with Bush and Tom “the hammer” Delay and all their corporate masters deregulated us off a cliff and damaged the world economy. They riled up the ignorant masses of unsophisticated angry tea partiers and want to blame it on someone else. How can Obama fix 8 years of damage in just 3 years? Mr. Levin seems to be advocating that we return to the formula that has damaged our economy and infected the rest of the world. I don’t understand this disjointed logic. 

    • Still Here

      You don’t appear to be paying attention.

      • Rob

         I am. I still don’t understand his logic. This guy doesn’t seem to factor in the fact that his deregulate nonsense is what put us in this mess in the first place.

        • Still Here

          You must have missed when he said he wasn’t arguing for no regulation or even less regulation.

          • Rob

             yes he was

          • Still Here

            Just as I thought, you missed it; mostly because your pathetic little mind is already made up.  You deserve the tragedy that is your life.

      • Steve_T

         You never do.

  • Ilanasher2000

    The Republican “big lie”

    The new Voodoo economics

  • Brettearle

    I support the Affordable Care Act–but can anyone tell me, where in this Bill, are there tenets which ultimately will lead to health care cost controls?

    It has always been my understanding that the Health Care bill was not simply to provide health care for all (or nearly everyone); but it was also geared to, eventually, help save the economy.

    How is THIS going to be done?

    And when has the President, or anyone in Washington who supports the Affordable Health Care Act, has ever explained HOW?

    I’m not so sure anyone actually knows or can explain it, effectively.

    Premiums are still going up now, is that not true?  Or is that Republican propaganda?

    • Livin_Large

      Off the top of my head = 1) widespread digitization of medical records and 2) increased auditing of Medicare claims for fraud.

      • Livin_Large

        Plus (of course) benefits for preventive care including vaccines!

  • GMG

    Oh come on.  The loss of the surplus had nothing to do with the Bush tax cuts?  He blames it entirely on entitlements?  This is ridiculous.

    • MrNutso

      Only true, if you think people should not have to pay taxes.

  • MrNutso

    With the continued economy, the federal debt was projected to be eliminated by the early 2000-teens.

  • RolloMartins

    The deficit spending is not due to Medicare/Medicaid. The waste is due to *private* insurance spending: the waste in our private insurance plan is aprox. $400B/yr. The GOP, I fear, cannot do math.

  • JustTheFacts

    I was going to write a whole lot.  But it’s clear this guy is fooling no one.  Hey, Ashbrook.  NEXT!!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    No – the surplus left because of the dot com bust, two wars, and two massive tax cuts.

  • Rob

     did Mr. Levin just say that the Paul Ryan plan is a “great idea”???

    • Greg

      Yes. He did.

    • Livin_Large

      Guest is intellectually bankrupt and should find another country. This one ain’t going that way.

  • Greg

    Privatizing Medicare is a great idea. Wow. Might as well said when you get old don’t expect any health care at all.

  • David


    What your Objectivist guest fails to grasp is that the,
    as he calls them, entitlements are a set of safety nets we have set up for
    ourselves. We spent decades putting them into place and had the longest
    period of economic stability, from the late 40’s to the early 80’s, that the
    United States has experienced. Before that we went through a “boom-bust” cycle
    that regularly pounded the poor and middle classes in this country. Those
    regulations and services that lifted the poor into the middle class have been
    slowly stripped away over the last 30 odd years and have lead to the economic
    instability we are experiencing today. That and the out of control deficit
    spending the Republican party engages in whenever they are in the White House.
    I have little tolerance for this gentleman’s hypocrisy and ignorance of
    history. We have tried the Laissez-Faire “solution” he is proposing before,
    several times. It didn’t work then, unless you started off wealthy, it won’t
    work now.

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    Can anyone imagine what would have happened to the US, and rippled throughout the world, had the Republican call for privatizing Soc Sec had happened under Dubya’s watch?  We all know what investment banks would have been “government approved”, there the same ones that failed, got bailed, and took down the economy.   

    The Republican forget why we had Glass-Steagall. They forget the deregulation the Great Depression . They forget the soup lines. None of them seem to remember (or have even experienced for that matter) what it’s like trying to provide the basics for a family at sub-par wages.

  • Michael

    How does the guest explain that the significant reductions/cuts that took place in Greece have not led to the recovery of which he speaks?  We have historical examples that show his ideas do not work to bring about recovery.

    • Guest

      How do you explain that Greece’s exploding increase in the size of government, government spending, and debt didn’t make Greece a prosperous country.

  • http://www.facebook.com/douglas.fahlbusch Douglas Fahlbusch

    All that matters is your health!  Redistribution of wealth is the answer.  Ever hear of the “Triple Revolution”, look it up!  Where are the jobs? Gone,  The jobs are not coming back and corporations don’t intend on reinvesting here, the USA, because we are too expensive.  How long will Asia work for slave labor to produce items we pay for on credit?  Take a look around, the world is waking up.

  • potter

    Levin says that Clinton’s surplus disappeared because we failed to cut or reform entitlements. What about the tax cuts and the wars… okay here’s Kuttner catching him. 

    How about some honesty Mr. Levin?

  • Still Here

    Nothing like extrapolating a stock market, capital gains bubble.

  • PatrickMichaelCorreia

    Yuval Levin seems like he’d be a great 80′s guy. Slicked back hair, sneering at the downtrodden, nice suite; kind of like a wealthy murder. 

    • TFRX

      Eighties guy?

      I hope he doesn’t come down with boneitis.

  • TFRX

    Levin says that Republicans, to their credit, are interested in reforming Medicare.

    Levin (or his parents) must not need Medicare. Nowadays when a Republican says “reform”, hold on to your wallet.

    (When it stops being true, I’ll stop typing it.)

    • MrNutso

      They are not reforming Medicare, they are eliminating it.  What is proposed does not resemble Medicare in any way.

  • Dmullen

    How can we discuss health care and noe defense, 12 air craft carriers , are you nuts, bases in 127 countries all allies?  And China nd iran scare us to death. its insane.

  • potter

    Is Mr. Levin talking about trickle down economics ultimately? 

  • Dmeengr

    Using the term “entitlement” already hands the formation of the argument to the reactionaries (they don’t deserve the title of conservative in my view. True conservatives would actually conserve something.). SS is in good shape and needs to be expanded, not cut back. CEO salaries and the DOD budget desperately need to be cut back. The economic health of the middle class is the key to economic growth. I don’t expect to be deluged with Republican talking points on NPR. I go to NPR to get relief from them. Single-payer heath care is what we need, and would be much cheaper than what we have. Heath care insurance would be completely unnecessary.

  • DurantDave

    Mr. Levin needs a reality check and a history lesson. Advances in technology are taking place every day! He makes no mention of our giant military might and the waste taking place there. He has no new ideas just repeating the old republican talking points. Look where America was in 2000 and where it’s at today. Mr. Levin should explain how we got to where we are today and why the surplusses from the late 1990′s were wasted away for the benefit of only a few of our citizens. Mr. Levin is correct that education is key to moving America forward but republicans aren’t in favor of upgrading our education system. The republican reform of Medicare is nothing more than government subsidizing the big insurance companies and cutting care for seniors. Mr. Levin is just another right wing spin doctor trying to rewrite history and ignoring facts. 

  • Ellen Dibble

    The ideal of growth, which Levin said came from the baby boom and the entrance of many women into the labor force, combined with communications and computer advances in productivity, is what moved us into the financial shenanigans which sought to assuage Wall Street and investors while it created a bubble — I hear it takes 20 years to get over that kind of crash — the problem was the Need for Growth, to begin with.

        Maybe we shouldn’t aim for that kind of growth.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     What about considering “welfare” that makes people more productive as against “welfare” that limits or actively discourages productivity?  A properly run healthcare system encourages productivity, since a healthy person is more productive than a sick person.  In contrast, cash handouts for having children promotes less work, especially since the rules for that system push against any effort to rise up.

    The problem isn’t “welfare” simply.

    • Rob

       When a cheeseburger costs 99c and a salad costs $5.. lol

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         Unless you’re referring to government-sponsored menus, how does that relate to what I wrote?

      • Steve_T

         Yes people who want to be and eat healthy have to spend more for less.

      • TFRX

        Two sides of the same coin: I’m sure you’re fully realizing that the things which go into the cheeseburger, and feeding the cow, are heavily subsidized at the farm level by the federal govt, whereas vegetables–even iceberg lettuce and those tomatos which feel like styrofoam–aren’t.

        That makes the cheeseburger delivery system “efficient”.

    • Guest

      How long should an able-bodied person who is able to work be allowed to remain on welfare?  Welfare should come with strings attached:  you must not increase the size of your family, you must get an education, you must not use alcohol or drugs.  If welfare required its recipients to get a high school diploma or GED, and perhaps an education beyond high school, it might actually enable people to move off of welfare and be self-supporting.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         I don’t know if this is still true, but in 2004, if you walked in off the street and asked for food stamps–understanding that you had no children and no disabilities, just no job–you could get six months.  Of course, since the case managers are always overworked, you were likely to get much more than that.

        By contrast, if you admitted that you were going to college, you had to prove that you also were working at least twenty hours a week to get anything.

        That’s the kind of stupidity that I’m naming.

      • Steve_T

         Do you realize that their are a lot of collage educated people on welfare?

        • Guest

          If we could enable welfare recipients with an inadequate education to obtain one and become self-supporting, the problem of college educated people on welfare would be inconsequential as it is now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001436729213 Wes Nickerson

    Austerity is a bankrupt theory. It is failing on every front around the world. Everywhere austerity has been tried it has failed to stimulate the economy. We need to be giving more spendable income to ordinary people, the middle class and the poor, if we want the economy to work. A case in point, Germany, with a strong social welfare system, has a booming economy, including flourishing solar energy industry. A direct employment program is needed on a scale comparable to the New Deal. Such a program is the Green New Deal of the Green Party.


  • Rob

    What about the farce that we call the SEC and the revolving door? 

  • Michael Tarantelli

    I guess one persons free market is anothers over regulation

  • A_sarge

    I’m concerned about the intersection of capitalism and food production.  In the drive for increased profits, food producers have brought us hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, genetically modified foods and more.  I would argue that introducing these foods has partially led to our current obesity epidemic.  Our overall aim as a nation needs to focus on the health of Americans and not simply economic growth.  

  • Greyman

    And, Tom Ashbroook, what of states (California) and cities (Stockton) that threaten to drive economies into ditches, every bit as deep and dangerous as any gully a bank steers into?

  • Lance Friedman

    What Levin is totally leaving out when he is talking about healthcare, is that all the countries (Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, the UK  with single payer &/or not for profit health insurance systems,  spend much less than us on healthcare & get the same or better healthcare.  Medicare is not the problem.  America’s expensive for profit health insurance corporations are what make our healthcare the most expensive in the world.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Democracy has the seeds of its own demise, I heard Levin say, that being that it’s run by “want” not by “need.”  You can lead the demos, the people around by the nose, like a herd of cattle, if you can link to greed.  However, I looked up demon, and the etymology is demon, spirit, divine or hectic.  Da-, Greek for divide, see “tide,” it says, and  “mon,” da-mon.  Divider or provider.  See Ghoul.  Somewhere in there is the spirit of democracy in its flaws.  Oh, the caller who called Levin a Marxist.  What about holding opposites in the brain is genius, demonic?

  • Greg

    People here get it.

    Now educate your family and friends.

    The criminal rich are in the end stretch of their 40 year assault on the middle class and poor of America.


  • Cj

    No amount deregulation will make up for the fact the Chinese government is investing heavily in it education, research and industry.  We need more government loans to solar companies, to counter act Chinese dumping.  We need major increases in research coming from the government.  Without major government action to match the Chinese we are a sinking ship.  

  • Joe in Philly

    “(The) conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.” D.E.E.

    The operative phrase:  we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought. Solve this problem and we can begin the process of reform!

  • http://lowenfoundation.org/ FLowen

    Yuval has some interesting things to say, but where does he come down on the influence of money and power on campaigning and the one-sided lobbying for legislation?

  • Matt

    Yuval Levin is assaulting my intelligence….when is this hour over?  

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Same time as every hour.

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    The Republicans choose not to  remember that it was their policies that got us into this ditch, and now they want to double down (and more) on more of the policies. How that work? Oh, yeah… By robbing from the poor, taking away social safety nets, and giving that money to the rich ( the alleged “job creators” with no jobs created, just money used to make more money) with tax breaks; and ever increasing spending on “defense” which looks more and more like Heinlein’s never-ending war as some bizarre kind of jobs program and justification of their policies.

    • William

      How can you rob a segment of the population that are free riders? That is what Obama and Pelosi are calling people that don’t buy medical insurance.

  • Kathleen Carlson

    Could Mr. Levin please give one concrete example of what he considers to be the right kind of regulation? Please describe the policy, the part(s) of the economy it would effect, and exactly how the regulation would empower economic growth?

  • Greg

    OMG. Our politicians aren’t bought and paid for.

    Is this fairy tale hour?

    • Still Here

      Yeah, he completely ignored union payments!

  • Gschachnik

    I always hear the same points:
    Right wing neo-conservatives want to scale down government and have a pro-business policy to stimulate the economy and see big government as detrimental to economic expansion.
    They are absolutely right. Neo-liberalism does provide a better platform for economic growth. The problem is the wealth becomes completely concentrated and society as a whole benefits very little from the economic growth.
    That is why the neo-liberals are rightfully seen as advocates for the very rich.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Are Levin’s “minute decisions” that he thinks legislators should have less of, are those earmarks?

  • Michiganjf

    Funny how so many corporate and wealthy “agree with what politicians are doing” BEFORE they actually do it!!!

    • Michiganjf


      Funny how so many corporate and wealthy give money because they “agree with what politicians are doing” BEFORE they actually do it!!!

      • Still Here

        How about the billions given by unions?

        • Greg

          Stop with the unions’ power meme.

          You sound ridiculous because it’s not true. 

          Unions have declined to such a small percentage of the workforce in this country they have no real power.

          And people know it.

          • Still Here

            They have spent billions to buy politicians.  Pubic employee unions do so to improve their bargaining power in negotiations with the politicians they’ve bought.

        • nj_v2

          Unions! Booga booga!!

        • jefe68

          Are you aware how foolish you sound.
          You don’t have anything to say or even to add except this nonsense about unions.
          Which are about 14% of the work force.

          Pretty lame reasoning.

          • Spin_n_weave

            actually, ‘still here’s’ comments sound sane, it’s yours that sound assinine

  • Rob

    now he backtracks and says he wants a welfare state.. but just a “different kind”.. um… ok

  • on an island

    Sorry Mr. Levin, you obviously haven’t lived long enough to understand ‘theory’ and ‘practical application’. At then end of your day, only wealthy people are needed, let the poor go away and die…

    • bla

      another false philanthropist, this has all happened before

  • Greg Eirschele

     What physical law tells us that we can have endless growth?

    • Greg

      The mind of the criminal rich.

      More for them is never enough.

  • Matt

    If the On Point producers wanted an articulate conservative to give voice to the end of the “social democratic model”, they could have at least had Water Russell Mead on, who (although I disagree with him ) is an intelligent, knowledgeable, and worthy conservative spokesperson for the end of the “blue-social model” as he puts it

    Not this hack.

    • Still Here

      Hack, lovely.  Take a position of his, flesh it out for us and shoot it down.  Should be a piece of cake for you.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    As long as Congress writes regulations and writes tax code, politicians are open to campaign bribery. That will never change Yuval. … Government not bought and paid for? Look at the incident in Florida where ALEC handed a bill to a Republican politician who accidentally cut and paste ALECs letterhead directly into the bill!

  • Karen Abdool

    I am all for a moderate discussion of these issues. It sounds like a great idea to reform regulation polcies rather than carte Blanche deregulation and to reform rather than remove Medicare etc. It’s also great hear talk that this issue has been created in a bipartisan way. HOwever – I do not hear any of this in the mainstream republican propaganda nor do I see this kind of moderation reflected in the current government process. President Obama is fairly moderate in terms of his approach but republicans have not worked with him well at all. If the government has not been able to work together thus far, what reason is there to believe they can work together now. A tea-partier who votes for Romney ‘just to get rid of Obama’ is unlikely to vote for anything like this.

    • William

      A moderate? This guy enacts his own dream act, which he himself said was illegal, and he is a  moderate? He said he will punish his enemies and reward his friends. That is a moderate? His own party won’t support his budget. Where is the moderate? Calling people that don’t want to buy medical insurance “free riders?”. That is a moderate?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    “Economic growth” has turned into economic growth of the 1% by cannibalizing the US middle class.

  • lodger

    The comments here, and the callers, are giving me hope. We’re much smarter, more sensible, and less partisan/divided than the corporate media seems to want us to believe. 

    All Levin’s knee-jerk antigovernment shibboleths are recognizably useless. They solve nothing. 

    • Rob

      unfortunately Mr. Levin’s blind followers are busy listening to Beck and Limbaugh in their tricorn hats & waving their weird yellow “don’t tread on me” flags.

    • Still Here

      Take one issue, flesh out his position for us and shoot it down.  Should be a piece of cake for you.  I’ll wait.

      • lodger

        Sure, I’ll take the bait (and repeat some points i made below).  I’ll start with his comment on how the postwar growth we had is not possible because ‘entitlements’ (aka benefits) are too high. 

        He ignored that then, growth was encouraged because the financial system was locked down (by Glass Steagall) to be an allocator of capital for broad-based growth, rather than a casino for bank managers who were allowed to play with others’ money, at zero risk to themselves. And taxes on the rich were much, much higher.  We learned our lessons in the great depression, which Levin’s (and presumably your) party has deftly undone, to the detriment of our whole country/economy.

        The outright fraud and crimes on wall street that got us into this mess were never even mentioned, as far as i can tell.  Just more ideological posturing.

        • Still Here

          First of all what fraud?
          Secondly, it takes two to borrow.  Consumers lived off of debt; mortgage, home equity, credit card, auto, ….; in order to support unsustainable lifestyles and at the expense of savings.  Our current malaise is the result of a deleveraging process that is not yet complete.  

          I’d ask you to address unfunded liabilities of the government and how the private sector can possibly grow while meeting those financial demands.

          • lodger

            What fraud?  Google “robo-signing” or “Goldman Sachs CDO” to get started. You are clearly uninformed.

            The first step to address unfunded liabilities is to have the rich pay their fair share. Why does Willard Romney get to pay less in taxes than I do? 

            The private sector grew fine when the banking system wasn’t a casino and taxes were actually higher. Do some research.

          • Still Here

            Robo-signing didn’t start the crisis; it was done to free up the foreclosure process by one law firm.

            Goldman CDO, show me the indictments.

            He pays untold millions more than you so you’re lying.

            Please, a stock market bubble followed by a credit bubble are not sustainable.

          • lodger

            Show you the indictments?  There are none, which is the problem. Get it?

            You really think it should be legal for the same company to be shorting securities they recognize as worthless, while at the same time collecting commissions from selling same securities to clients?

            Do you really think that does not constitute fraud?

          • Still Here

            I don’t think that’s is what happened, unless you can show me different.  And that’s why there have been no indictments.  Your theory requires conspiracy at all levels of government, not very plausible.

          • lodger

            No conspiracy, just a two party system too beholdento Wall St.

            Read “Griftopia”.

          • Still Here

            I will, after you show me thatGoldmanwasshorting the exact instruments it was recommendingtoothers.

          • jefe68

            You are wasting your time with this chap. He’s not worth it.

          • Still Here

            I’ve schooled the bloke below so many times, I’m convinced it’s some third-grader’s DNC talking point bot.

          • lodger

            Evidence of Goldman fraud at link


          • Still Here

            Now we’re getting somewhere.  “Charged with fraud” but were they found guilty, or do we just assume guilt and move on.

          • Zero

            Just so you know, Icelandic bankers did relatively the same thing and over two hundred were put in prison.  Probably because Iceland has stricter campaign finance laws and are not subject to mass corruption. 

            Bernie Sanders said it best, “Washington isn’t regulating bankers; the bankers are regulating Washington.”  

          • Still Here

            Moreover, the supposed fraud allegation has nothing to do with Goldman shorting, but with failing to disclose a hedge fund was shorting it.  Sounds like buyer beware lesson to me.

          • lodger
          • Still Here

            You need a better link than one that closes with “Bottom line: It just doesn’t sound like the bank did anything wrong here, though apparently we haven’t heard the last of this.”

          • Zero

            I think his or her point about Glass-Steagall flew over your head.

          • Utahowl
  • tim

    The last caller nailed it.

  • Steve_T

    We don’t have a thriving private market. When we go back to riding horses and carrying six shooters, will the rich lock themselves up in there towers and look down on us and say tisk tisk tisk.  Yea let’s go backward we obviously can’t go forward, with this kind of thinking.

  • Still Here

    Unions put $400 million into Obama’s coffers in 2008 and are looking to double down this year.  They must have gotten a great return on their first investment.  Too bad we taxpayers got screwed in the bargain.

    • Rob

      unions are made up of working taxpayers….. Or did you not know that?

      • Still Here

        So are companies, big and small, who pay at the corporate level and worker level … or did you conveniently forget that?

        • Utahowl

          Big companies often pay little or no taxes…or did you conveniently forget that?

    • JustTheFacts

      “We taxpayers?”  Are you assuming that union workers don’t pay taxes?  They don’t have a battery of accountants to maneuver them from taxes.  They don’t have Swiss bank accounts (Romney).

      Union Workers are REAL taxpayers.  Get it right!

      • Still Here

        Of course not but there are 100+ non-union taxpayers for every union taxpayer.  We are being screwed royally by their criminal investment in politicians.

        • Ray in VT

          Care to share with us what orafice you pulled that one out of?  Let’s see the argument goes that union workers are vastly overpaid and have cushy jobs, then just how do they avoid paying taxes, then, unless you are arguing that there are few union workers in America.

          • notafemnista

            Which makes it interesting the Unions are in bed with the Democrats….traditionally the party of high taxes.  Hm.

          • Ray in VT

            From a tax perspective it may seem a bit counter intuitive, but no more so than how many low income people have been voting for a party these past 20-30 years that promises to cut funding/services that benefit them and their state.  Conversely, there are many middle, and even upper, income earners who support higher taxes (to an extent) as long as they think that they are getting a good deal or if the outcome is worthwhile.

            Labor and the Democrats go back a ways, and whereas they haven’t always seen eye to eye, it was the Democratic Party that pushed for some of labor’s agenda regarding the 5 day work week, overtime pay, the minimum wage of workplace safety measures during FDR’s time.

          • notafemnista

            Couldn’t be that those low income earners recognize the so-called benefits to which you refer are supported by their taxes, and if the “benefits” go away, their taxes go down, and their income goes up?  Could it possibly be that, or do you give poor people that much intellectual credit?

          • Ray in VT

             No, I think that they’ve been duped by years of this trickle down garbage into thinking that if only the government wasn’t in the way then they’d be great.

            Let them pay the full costs of educating their kids, fixing their roads, etc, for a few years and I bet that they’d be changing their tunes.

            Also, mostly the states against big government are the biggest takers.  I say let Mississippi, Alabamy and the rest get their snouts out of the trough and give it a whirl.  I’d give ‘em 2 years tops before they came running back, looking for California, New York and Massachusetts to subsidize them once again.

          • notafemnista

            So yes.  1)You are denying that lowering taxes would increase individual income and 2)You think poor people are too stupid to realize this.  What a dim view of humanity you have.

        • jefe68

          What a load of bunk.

    • nj_v2

      Unencumbered by facts or reality, Still a Hack— regurgitating Rethuglicon propaganda—belches, “Unions put $400 million into Obama’s coffers in 2008…”


      “…But in the data required to be reported, the center found $75 million in direct contributions from unions and union members to candidates and parties, of which over $68 million went to Democrats. It also found $86 million in outside spending by labor in the 2008 cycle, which largely benefited Democrats. It also identified an additional $52.7 million in spending from labor groups  in 527 organizations, tax exempt organizations that seek to influence elections. Add it up, and you get $206.7 million.

      …When we looked at the public disclosures after the election, we found the unions reported $206.7 million in spending for all Democrats. It’s clear that the unions raised additional money for get-out-the-vote activities, but we don’t know how much more — nor does the RNC. Finally, all that money went to support Obama and other Democrats, not just Obama alone. In short, we don’t see the evidence to support that unions spent $400 million to elect Obama. So we rate the statement False.”

    • Zero

      Write to your congressperson saying that you want an amendment limiting all campaign contributions to $2,500 by living, breathing individuals (and not entities). 


  • David A

    Railing against the president or any other person will bring us to no benefit. The area that I can agree with Mr. Yuval Levin on is that we need change big time and it is all about inefficiency. Fortunately we can all agree on this. Where I disagree is the idea that we need to privatize (insurance competition) to do it.
    The big difference with private and public over-site is that they function from very different Goals. Private sector = profit oriented (less service for the highest price sustainable).  Public over-site = Best services for the common good.
    The present system, from my personal experience, is corrupt because the only people in charge are Doctors (work for profit) and insurers (work for profit). It is a mafias dream that we have this system where there is no independent control (that does not have a financial investment) The only control over the wallet I have seen is where Medicad & Medicare limited what the doctors could charge. Not only has my private insurer not limited costs, they have promoted it. The insurers are the mafia and they are sucking us dry.

    • Karenita1

      Haaaaaaaaaaaa Haaaaaaaa – if you or any one else believes that Doctors have much control over these costs you are living in your own little rabbit hole.

  • AC

    “Nothing incites to money-crimes like great poverty or great wealth”
    Mark Twain

    here we go….again….

    • Alan in NH

       I agree with Mr. Twain and would add that the size of the money-crime committed is commensurate with the resources that can be drawn upon to commit it.

  • Aaron

    This is what passes for a conservative intellectual? Levin offered no concrete plan other than more of the same which has gutted social and economic security slowly over the last 30 years. He spoke the entire hour in circles (albeit quite fast, so to some I suppose he sounded intelligent), and when not vague was entirely misleading. I might not have agreed with Buckley on much, but at least he staked a position and defended it with tangible ideas. No such talent exhibited by the squishy Mr. Levin.

  • Tribalguitars

    Vouchers for insurance don’t work, period. Insurance premiums go up at 2x – 3x the rate of any raises that would be seen by those receiving vouchers.  Looks at what WellPoint did, raising premiums by  39% in Califronia, and over 10% across the board for all their customers. They’ve increase premiums over 400% since they started less than 15 years ago. Is Ryan’s budget (called “marvelous”, and adopted by Romney) going to let seniors and those needing insurance keep up with that? No.  Ryan needs to try working at a fast food joint and minimum wage for a year and try to provide for his family. Let’s see what his budget does for him then.

    • notafemnista

      Insurance premiums go up because customers want more coverage both in the form of services and consumers covered.     Stop asking insurance companies to cover breast implants, contact lenses and ED meds and premiums will go down.   Stop asking insurance companies to insure entire families (only one of whom is the actual employee) and premiums will go down.

      • jefe68

        So your plan to lower costs is not to cover family member’s, such as children. What a plan.

        By the way, cosmetic surgery is not covered in most insurance policies. I say most as I’m sure there are some Cadillac policies that might cover plastic surgery, but I doubt it.

        I must say this comment has to be one of the most absurd I’ve read in a while on the subject of heath care cost. Where do you get this stuff from?

        • notafemnista

          Not altogether surprising since your grasp of basic economics is lacking.

          Since we were told years ago that covering children in the form of well baby check, childhood vaccinations and the like would, in the long run, decrease healthcare costs, and since that has not happened, I’m going to say yes.  One way to reduce health insurance premiums is to reduce the number of people in the pool – especially those who are not contributing to said costs.

          • lodger

            And these people who have been ‘reduced’ from the pool, what happens if/when they need lifesaving emergency medical attention?

          • notafemnista

            Thats what insurance was for in the first place.  Catastrophic medical care.  Not day to day, month to month maintenance.   

          • jefe68

            Wrong, period.

          • notafemnista

            Read your history.  When FDR’s administration froze wages, employers looked for other ways to provide benefits.  Thats where employer provided health insurance came from.    You are significantly lacking.

          • Ray in VT

            Then let’s decouple insurance from employment and let everyone buy into a public system.  My company’s boss says that national health care will save the company thousands per year per employee.  Sounds like a good move for business.


          • notafemnista

            Ok.  What do you plan to do with those who do  not participate?

          • lodger

            You’re sidestepping my question. You said reducing the pool  would lower premiums.

            I’m saying what happens when those people need medical attention?

            I’m saying the best solution is to have everyone in the same risk pool.

          • Ray in VT

            I hear people who are against insurance pools complain about high individual premiums, and they just don’t get it.  I get insurance through my employer, and because we’re all in it together we get to spread the risk around and more effectively bargain with providers.

          • Ray in VT

            Sure, you can decrease costs that way, but I’m not sure that many people would want to.  Quite frankly, I find advocating for such a position to be down right barbaric.

            Well, maybe we could just get rid of those child labor laws that Newt doesn’t like and let kids get coverage from their employers.

          • notafemnista

            Good thing I didn’t ask your opinion of my position.  While you’re carrying on about child labor laws, ask yourself what kind of parent would put his child to work in a coalmine in the first place?  

            Children weren’t being dragged kicking and screaming from their cozy beds by robber barons.  Oh no.  It was their kind and loving parents who put them to work.

          • Ray in VT

            Well, you may not have asked, but I’m a gonna give it anyways.

            Families have to survive.  I grew up on a farm, and if we all wanted to eat, then we all had to work.  It was much the same in the mills and mines in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Families had to make money, and companies were willing to pay kids (less) to work, so out, or down, the kids went so that they could survive.  I’m sure that the company towns, though, really felt terrible about endangering their workers, no matter how young or old, while laughing all of the way to the bank.  There’s some laissez-faire for you.

          • notafemnista

            Interesting.  Why not just stop having kids.  Kids are expensive as you’ve demonstrated here.   Again, it wasn’t the company towns dragging children to work.

          • Ray in VT

            But they were more than happy to exploit them for cheap labor and fire them if they lost too many fingers in the machines.

            Also, so that’s your solution?  Hey, poor people, don’t be having kids.  Just leave that to wealthier people.

            I have news for you.  People are going to have sex, and kids will sometimes result.  Contraception can help with that, but, again, if your suggestion is that poor kids aren’t a problem that society should worry about, then you’ve got some seriously screwed up priorities.


          • jefe68

            You are really one sick human being. 

          • notafemnista

            History is a booger.

          • SuzanneNYC

            Well your history is way off. Facts are a booger. Children were not put to work by their  evil, rapacious parents. Children were employed in coal mines & textile mills and other places because the factory and mine owners preferred them as cheap labor, small enough to do certain jobs, and uncomplaining — i.e.  exploitable.  Children as young a 4 or 5 worked long hours under horrific conditions. The reason child labor laws were enacted was to correct this egregious situation. (see Dickens) So if children were put to work again — would you support their having medical coverage?  Also, since children are considered dependents under tax law, would you advocate repealing the child deduction as well? BTW, what do you have against children, anyway? Just wondering?

          • notafemnista

            Preferred them as cheap labor and offered up as such by WHOM exactly?

          • jefe68

            You say my grasp of economics is lacking? Do tell. I mean by all means prove to the world that preventive medicine is not cost effective.

            By the way the more people in the pool lowers costs, not less. How do get to this conclusion?

            Why do think a large cooperation gets a better rate than an individual on insurance premiums. Are you really that dense?

  • cor508

    again the tired old myth of the republican eutopia of “free market”   Which never HAS and never can exist because it’s based on the myth that a man is an island.   

    Second tired old myth from the right - deragulate.    The REALITY is that EVERY single regulation from any govt has come from the obvious NEED to regulate somwthing that had become a danger to society!    ( Now we can argue about the efficiency of the regulation  but that is a totally different arguement)

    The right seems to live under the Ayn Rand mythology that rich, powerful, talented people will do the right thing jsut because it’s the right thing.   But this is a fairy tale.    As numerous studies have shown, among other realities, that wall street for example has the highest concentration os sociopaths in any industry.

    There are NO examples that any right wingers can point to where lack of regulation has been beneficial (over proper regulation not watered down and innefficient ones)

    • notafemnista

      I purchased a Brita water filter once.  Nice product, I’d recommend it to anyone.  However on the box it stated “It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its intent.”     How on EARTH does a Brita water filter present a danger to society?  (Just by example)

      And frankly if we need to label the silica packets that come with running shoes “not for human consumption”, we have bigger problems than too much or too little regulation.

      And just for the topper, it was regulation that permitted two grade school aged sisters diagnosed with abilinism to become horribly sunburned.  Turns out the school doesn’t permit the application of sunscreen without a doctor’s note.  (story on MSN) Who knew Susie Coppertone was such a menace?

      • Still Here

        I bought a push mower that had many warnings, the one I recall the best was “Not to be used as a hedge trimmer.”  We can all thank the class action lawsuit against John Deere that got us that one.

      • jimino

        OH MY GOD!!!  How will we ever survive as a civilization with such onerous government intrusion? 

        And if the school required everyone to put on sunscreen before going outside, the same people would be complaining about how intrusive that is.

        Or to reply more succinctly to the question posed by cor508, there are still no such examples.

        • notafemnista

          Deliberately obtuse?

      • lodger

        Isn’t the simple fix to just get a doctor’s note for sunscreen? Seems to me the parents are at fault here. They could have easily avoided this.

        This is a non-story being amplified to gin up the teapartiers and get stupid people in an anti-government tizzy, in time for election season.

        • notafemnista

          Why does the school see fit to regulate sunscreen in the first place?

          Man.  I do not understand how the so-called smart ones always miss the point.

          • Ray in VT

            To answer your question, it’s because there are nuts out there who will scream and/or sue over just about anything.  I’m sure that the policy in question was just so that the school could cover their own butts legally.

          • lodger

            The sunscreen ban is ridiculous. It is also easily circumvented.

            The more relevant question is why this is being trotted out as an example of how government is bad. It’s as pointless as the ‘broccoli court’ farce.

            Guess what? There are many rules schools have, in order to protect students, that are no reflection at all on what the proper role of government is. 

            Would you be as incensed if the sunscreen ban were at a private school? 

          • notafemnista


      • jefe68

        The Brita notice is related for misuse in a commercial setting, say a restaurant.
        Straw man argument.

        • notafemnista

          Begs the question. 

    • Moofoo

      you’re a tired old myth that is clueless about free markets, oh there we go again mentioning Ayn Rand, which the majority of conservatives probably haven’t even heard of but you go, cor, your knowledge transcends all and is absolutely astounding (thanks for the good laugh, anyway)

    • rkm0

      I’ll give you two. Airlines were deregulated in the 1970s, which is why you can fly coast-to-coast for $300 instead of $3,000. Telecom was deregulated in the 1980s, which makes possible unlimited calling plans (for a while, in-state calling was regulated and inter-state wasn’t, so it cost more to call the next town over than it did to call one ten states over). Airlines and telecom are still highly regulated, and most of the remaining regulations not dealing with safety are stupid, put in place by the dominant carriers to keep out the competition.

      Your assertion that every single regulation from any government has come from the obvious need to regulate something that had become a danger to society is patently false and absurd. The only purpose a good deal of regulation serves is to benefit entrenched interests (e.g., RN’s can’t administer routine primary care unless affiliated with an MD) or to take away the rights of others (e.g., Mississippi’s recently-passed requirement that abortion providers must have hospital admission privileges). Technically, it “improves” safety in case of complications during the procedure, but practically it shuts down the last abortion clinic in the state, which was the real intention.

      You bleeding hearts need to stop blaming everything on corporations and plutocrats. Your misguided Utopian attempts are responsible for just as much destruction.

      Also, there is no such thing as “proper” regulation. Proper by whose value system? Would you like the government to regulate how much you earn? How many children you can have? After all, that would significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

      • Utahowl

        I think your points about airline & telcom deregulation are good ones – although the latter really came about because of the breakup of public monopolies like Ma Bell.  However – as you say, both are still quite regulated and IMHO they fit COR508′s “proper regulation not watered down” model better than a truly de-regulated market. And BTW, the airline market pressures may well be jeopardizing safety: 1) some pilots ( on smaller feeder lines) are flying much more, for lower pay, to the point that some are camping out in airport parking lots to save $$; and 2) the maintenance has been outsourced to some shops without proper quality assurance.  I predict that our great air safety record will degrade from here on out.

    • Guest


  • John_in_Amherst

    The fundamental error in conservative econmoics is to view the market as the sole arbiter of value.  This is highlighted in the debate over healthcare.
    Many issues make health care unique.  First and foremost, insurance,
    like healthcare itself is not a commodity that consumers can make
    rational on-the-spot market-based decisions about, because most
    consumers lack expertise and information to choose between procedures
    and providers, and many health care choices must be made post haste,
    with little or no time to “shop around”.  Permitting some to opt out on
    health insurance guarantees that society will pick up the tab when the
    irresponsible parties DO need care, as many complex medical procedures
    are immensely expensive and essentially unaffordable for “the 99%”. 
    This unaffordability question dovetails with another aspect unique to
    healthcare, namely, no other good or service is rendered by providers
    who are morally bound, by the Hippocratic oath and by the doctrine of
    every religion, to provide their “product” (health care) to those who
    need it, whether or not the consumer can pay for it.  This, of course,
    makes for a situation where providers either agree to “eat” the charges,
    and/or pass on them on to society as a whole, and this in turn leads to
    the games played by hospitals and insurance companies where rates for a
    given procedure can vary widely, with the highest price being reserved
    for the uninsured, out-of-pocket payers.  In addition, the need for
    healthcare is partially a matter of luck (good genes or bad,
    unforeseeable accidents, etc) and partially a matter of choice, either
    in terms of the procedure being optional (nip-tuck, for example), or the
    need being related to lifestyle choices (excessive eating, not wearing a
    helmet while motorcycling, etc.).  Finally, society has not yet tackled
    to question of what health care should be provided for all, and what
    care is too expensive and/or to “low yield” (successful in too few
    cases, or extending life without regard to the quality of life or the
    duration of the extension) to justify covering it for everyone.  In
    short, we know how to do a lot more than we can afford to do for
    everyone.  Grappling with this will get perilously close to setting up
    the “death panels” that hysterically charged the health care “debate” in
    its last iteration.
    Our inability to maturely and dispassionately
    discuss what makes both clinical AND economical sense is the key to
    comprehending our failings.  Our human urge to be compassionate
    conflicts with our American notions of personal choice and our “free
    market” ethos.  Other manifestations of this includes the rate of
    compensation for specialist MDs, profit margins for drug and medical
    device companies and the insurance industry, and malpractice damage
    awards.  It may boil down to this: some human endeavors do not belong in
    “the marketplace”.  Exercises in compassion cannot be “for profit”. 
    Any linkage between publicly traded companies, with fiduciary
    responsibilities to stock holders, and people in medical need, is
    fundamentally morally corrupt because it seeks to profit from human
    suffering.  In this sense, “Obamacare” has got it wrong.  But it is no
    worse than the conservatives’ arguing that government should step aside
    and let the marketplace rule.  We have a problem here.  It is growing in
    scope and severity, and until it is resolved, it will damage our
    competitiveness, but our spiritual health as well.  And personally, spiritual value is not graded by the market.

    • ana

      What is most discouraging is the inability to have a rational discussion about the way forward in health care.
      It defies common sense and common decency  that it is used as a political football.

      It is stunning that here in the 21st century we are grappling while other civilized nations have moved on. 
      We do not have to reinvent the wheel-there are fine models to study that work as well  any immense, unpredictable  human real life  drama  can work.

      Health care is a service. How it came to be a for profit business is stunning. It is the doorstep we seek and need on our worst days, and should not ever be a means to immense wealth for a priveliged few at the expense of others being priced out. Everybody needs it at some point and it belongs to everybody.
       The whole focus should be on providing care for all in the most effecient way possible/ - elimination of the  middleman is working very well in other nations toward that end

    • Spin_n_weave

      ‘when the irresponsible parties DO need care’  oh, here we goJohn, keep your opinions out of my pockets, I don’t support big pharma

      • John_in_Amherst

        I am no fan of Big Pharma, either. But I don’t follow your comment… Are you suggesting you’d rather keep all your money & watch people die?
        - John

        Subject: [on-point] Re: Paring Back The U.S. Government

    • John

      You are right that healthcare is not a problem that free markets can solve.  The reason is quite simple:  fear of death trumps greed.  It is a rare person who can stare into the face of suffering and see only profits.

  • ulTRAX


    These past 30 years the rich, corporations, and Wall Street have gotten just about EVERYTHING they wanted… tax cuts for the filthy rich, big reductions on capital gains taxes, the destruction of unions, free trade deals to exploit cheap and slave labor overseas, corporate welfare, two wars they refused to pay for, deregulation of banks, mass media, and commodities. They sabotaged government revenue with irresponsible tax cuts and sabotaged the industrial base of America with free trade. Their privatization efforts in Iraq milked taxpayers for $100k+ a year contractor jobs that our military should have been doing for a fifth that. They encouraged us to place our life savings in the hands of sociopathic predators on Wall Street whose greed and hubris was so great they didn’t just bring down their own banks, they brought down our entire economy… almost the world’s.

    ALL THE EVIDENCE IS NOW IN, and it’s these conservative/neo-liberal policies have proven to be a DISASTER. At least some neo-libs like Clinton now have some regrets about free trade and deregulation. Clinton got us to a balanced budget only to have it quickly sabotaged by Bush to prevent debt paydown. But do you ever hear ANY regrets from the far Right or the crazed Tea Baggers for supporting policies that created more debt and imploded our economy?

    Above was just the beginning of the Right’s proposed insanity. The Tea Party sociopaths in Congress are demanding policies even MORE insane than the above. Grover Norquist admitted his goal is to shrink the federal government down to about 8% of GDP. That means the elimination of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and just about all of the social safety net plus those regulatory agencies that protect us from the more malignant aspects of capitalism. After decades of deception, guests like Yuval Levin are finally out of the closet. A “reboot” of government and the economy is code for a return to social Darwinism, the proverbial rush to the bottom. The far Right wants to the roll back all the social progress of the 20th Century.

    There’s a deep defect in ideology of the Right. They have a religious belief the market is always omniscient and the government is always the problem. So if they have gotten most of what they wanted these past 30 years and there’s STILL no Conservative Nirvana, they blame their failures on not being extreme enough. And when that extremism predictably fails, they just get more extreme. They fail to appreciate the system works best when there’s a symbiotic relationship… where the public and private sectors two bootstrap each other.

    If anyone should be reforming our system, it’s those whose instincts were sound in OPPOSING all of the above insanity. Yes our social safety net must be actuarially sound, and that means moving AWAY from the inefficiencies inherent in the market and end the sabotaging of government finances by the Right. And we need to return to some of the common sense regulations of the New Deal era.


  • Tina

    Thank goodness for Robert Kuttner.  His rebuttals were clear and articulate AND based on our own recent history rather than being merely theoretical!!!

  • Still Here

    So where’s that liberal utopia.  Is it Greece?  Lots of government  spending, tons of government regulation, strong government unions, government growing faster than the private sector, and lots of deficits and debt?  That’s our future?  Great!

    • Greg

      I’m sorry to say you have no idea what you are talking about. But keep talking. 

      • Still Here

        How convenient.  

    • lodger

      ‘That liberal utopia’ is the United States of America where the writers of the constitution specifically recognized that to ‘promote the general welfare’ was essential for the great experiment to work and have any power to last.

      You must have been absent when that was covered in history class. Or maybe you skipped school entirely, being the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-anything civic/public maverick that you are. 

      • Ray in VT

         Promoting the general welfare?  Who knew that the Founders were some sort of Commies?

        • MrNutso

          They could’nt.  Commie was invented yet.

          • Ray in VT

            That is just what the Reds would have you believe!!  I’m joking, of course.

            I find it interesting that so many who advocate for small government and often a sort of free for all, everyone for himself approach and cite the Founders and the documents that they created fail to see that big We at the beginning of the Constitution and the provide for the general welfare” statement.

          • Spin_n_weave

            we as in ‘we individuals’

            and no one is advocating a ‘free for all’ so stop with the silly propaganda, as tidy an assumption that may be for you

          • Zero

            I guess if you want to see a doctor and get a college education but are too poor for either, you can get lost. 

            You know, because free education and healthcare was outside of the scope of our founding fathers….

          • Ray in VT

            So, was it “we individuals” that were supposed to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare solely by acting individually and on one’s own?  That’s an interesting, and I’d say wholly unsupported, historical view.

            Also, I generally do view the libertarian position as a free for all.  Born to a drug addicted mom in a poverty riddled area?  Tough.  Bootstrap it.  Has your town/state been hit with a natural disaster, well don’t expect my tax dollars to rebuild or recover.  That seems to be where that ideology leads.

        • ulTRAX

           It’s worst than that! The Constitution gives Congress the power to tax in order to PROVIDE for the General Welfare!  Heaven forbid!!!

          The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;

          • Ray in VT

            Hold on, I just heard that the general welfare and the common defense are supposed to be provided for by individuals, not institutions.  (see below)

          • ulTRAX

             Problem with relying on charity is that already poor areas lack the money to be of much help. We saw that when donations to food banks dried up after the GOP imploded the economy.

    • Ray in VT

      So where’s the small government/libertarian utopia?  Somalia?  There’s almost no government (so probably no debt), no regulation of business.  Why aren’t people and businesses flocking there?

      Greece is pretty much the poster child for what can go wrong.  Too many benefits, not enough resources or production, as well as various loopholes that allowed people to avoid paying taxes, although you can probably get behind that, right?  I’d rather point to northern Europe and what they’ve managed to build.

    • lodger

      Read Krugman’s recent op-ed on Ireland. A textbook case of the Romney recovery plan, and its complete failure.

      No rising tide lifting all boats. Once the water recedes the people on the yachts are safe for a while (as long as nobody figures out how to scale the sides).

      • William

        How does dragging people down lift all boats?

        • lodger

          huh? What do you mean?

    • ulTRAX

      Greece isn’t a condemnation of some generic “left” wing government. Even a RIGHT wing government that is actuarially unsound will get into trouble. Why aren’t you commenting on successful social democratic nations like Germany? 

      • Ray in VT

        My guess would be because that would defy the narrative that government is bad and can’t allow the conditions for both economic prosperity and a strong social welfare system.

      • Still Here

        All recognize that Schroder’s labor reforms dragged Germany out of its socialist stupor, but the real test of sustainability is unfolding right now.  An economy driven by exports to its European brethren is facing a huge test.  We’ll see how this liberal utopia does now that you’ve conveniently abandoned Greece.

    • Zero

      I personally like to point to Germany as an economic model.  Let me put it to you: name one country that is doing well economically and humanely which has an economic environment currently to the right of America’s?

      I can name several countries throughout the world doing well and is to the left of United States.  

      Where’s your economic model?

      By the way, Germany: free healthcare, free college, robust infrastructure, and a renewable energy initiative.

    • J_b_trey

      What is the republican utopia east Germany? Or is the GOP utopia Greece. Greece reeks of cronyism which appears to be what the GOP is all about.

  • Brettearle

    Over an hour ago, I asked how the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) is actually going to reduce costs.

    While I support the bill, I believe that no one in Washington, who supports it, has been able to articulate HOW it will reduce costs.

    When I wrote this challenge question, here, on this blog, an hour ago, the only responses were that costs would be saved via preventive care and digitized medical records.

    While those are factors that will contribute to savings, I think that the response, to this question, is VERY telling.

    Sure, ER visits will be reduced and end-of-life, non-compulsory measures (not Death Panels) will be offered.
    Insurance will cover emergency hospital stay and operation procedures, for the previously uninsured.

    But what else?

    HOW will costs be fully controlled?

    Will these factors, above–and only those factors–actually lead to cost controls on premiums, hospital stays, tests, operations, MD fees, and medications  [medication costs, apart from special price reduction programs].

    Are the Republicans accurate when they say that not only are premiums rising now–but the costs will spin out of control, in the future?


    Is it simply Republican Propaganda?

    I’m beginning to wonder–if it is only propaganda.

    Maybe the Right Wing is right or maybe it’s wrong.

    President Obama has gone on record as saying that ACA will prevent the bankruptcy of the country.

    But he and his collegaues have not explained HOW.

    Have they?

    If so, show me.

    So far, I don’t see it.

    Is the President flying by the seat of his pants, here?

    And with 26 states ready to opt out, isn’t this a serious problem for ACA and cost controls?

    Call me a Republican in Democrat’s clothing, but I am not.

    Do any of my fellow brethren have the wherewithal to step forward on this issue–here, on this public forum and try to explain?

    • Markus

      I’ve only read one study that measured how costs changed once people had regular checkups for prevention. Costs increased as people went in more often, had more tests, more procedures, more drugs. Intuitively, this makes sense. In Massachusetts, where this exists in some form, premiums were, for a while, the higest in the country. Don’t know if that’s still true, but they’re surely one of the highest.

      The argument I’ve heard most often is not that costs will decrease, but that the impact on the federal budget will. This is because we’re required to pay for Obamacare for several years before the costs kick in. So, you pay for it for 3 years or so without any costs, the breakeven points comes 7 years after that. After that, it becomes a budget buster, but if you only calculate costs for 10 years, you can say it’s revenue neutral.

      And this may be simplistic, but it’s hard for me to believe that you’re going to add 40 million largely low income people to a system and expect it to cost less. And how many government programs have come in at the costs they projected.

      I’d like to see a single payer system, but I’m not so naive that I think it would either save money or be anything but a bureaucratic mess.

      • notafemnista

        Don’t forget, they are counting on people not having insurance as well.  The funding from the penalty/tax/mandate is written into the law.  The law that was to guarantee insurance for all, counts on people not being insured.

        Mr. Orwell would be proud.

      • Brettearle

        If what you say is true–and maybe it is true; maybe it isn’t true–then this would be an outrageous snake oil-bill of goods, sold to the country.

        It would be hard for me to believe. 

        But maybe it is true.

        I see absolutely NO seminars, tutorials, 30 minute specials, 20 minute specials, etc…..

        sponsored by

        The National Reveiw
        The Wall Street Journal
        The New York Times
        The Washington Post


        The Weekly Standard,

        that would prove or disprove the cost issue.


        • lodger

          Ask the CBO what happened to the scoring of the Medicare for All bill (aka HR 676). That would have explored the cost ramifications of single payer healthcare financing in a non-partisan, analytical way.

          This is what we, the taxpayer, deserve.

          The fact that it vanished into nothing should be a major story. 

      • Utahowl

        I agree there are real issues about exactly how the ACA…or, for that matter, our current disaster of a healthcare system..is going to control costs. But as to how it will be funded…the idea is a huge broadening of the “base” of the system to include a lot of people, currently un-insured, who will pay into the insurance pool but draw out less than the current average.  The only way to make health insurance work, in terms of $$, is to have a very large pool of people who are basically healthy, to buffer the relatively small fraction who have catastrophic bills (because they have severe developmental disorders, or multiple chronic problems (diabetes/heartproblems) or a baby born at <2 lb birthweight).  That's the initial condition the ACA was trying to set up.  If that fails, then Katy, bar the door – the whole structure will fail in about 10 yrs.  If the GOP has no other plans other than Paul Ryan's or Ayn Rand's "It's every person for himself" theory, it's gonna be interesting when the 99% storm the doors of the for-profit hospital in the gated community, because all the other hospitals shut down.

  • Btrus

    Please ask your guest about the biggest entitlement program-the military.  Our spending is equal to the next 7 highest spending nations combined.  It expanded 50% under George Bush and Republican legislators won’t consider cutting programs even when cutting is recommended by the Pentagon or the Secretary of Defense.

  • jefe68

    Mr. Levin’s essay is really nothing more than thinly disguised Republican/Libertarian diatribe on both the New Deal and Great Society programs. Mr.Levin’s true colors come out when he slips in the GOP diatribe against Teachers Unions. Using the current right wing rhetoric and making them the demons of all that is wrong with our education system. Funny how he conveniently leaves the data about states that have no Teachers Unions and that they have the worst records in regards to educating children.
    How does he deal with this? By ignoring it.

    Massachusetts has one of the strongest unions in the nation and Texas has none. While Massachusetts is far from perfect it has a far better results than Texas.  Funny how the states with the lowest test scores in the nation are all non-union ones.

    South Carolina – 50th
    North Carolina – 49th
    Georgia – 48th
    Texas – 47th
    Virginia – 44th

    While ground zero of the union battle, Wisconsin, is ranked 2nd in the country. Facts are such stubborn things.

    Read more: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-02-23/news/30101220_1_union-battle-teachers-unions-test-scores#ixzz1zaBsczJn

    • Caesarmail

      States 50 to 44 on your list above have no unions. That is one statistical correlation. Another is that they each have a substantial minority population that is higher as percentage than the national average. Please post the states 1 to five and let’s check for the same correlation. 

      Funny how the states with the lowest test scores in the nation . . . .  

    • Chrishof

      Yes, and look at the racial mix in Wisconsin vs the states you list.  It’s unfortunately not about union vs non-union.

      • jefe68

        Well how do you account for Massachusetts which has a large minority population scoring better than any of these states.

        Why don’t you people do your own research.

        The stats also break down to income as well.
        The point is states in the South and South West have the worst outcomes in education, health care and income equality.

        Then there is Kansas.

  • Michael Russo

    Everyone should know that social welfare laws were passed a LONG time ago, even when the liberals of the time were much less so.  These programs were not universally hated by conservatives…not when only white people used them.  White single mothers who lost husbands were supposed to be supported, because they wanted her to stay in the home (side note, there is sexism.)  All of a sudden, now that people of all shades can use these programs, it’s all about how much it costs.  I’m calling there is a little brown around your lips, Mr. Levin, and it’s not chocolate.

  • Richard

    I challenge your guest to give one example where what he is proposing actually works.  I propose the only thing that will happen will be a further re-distribution of wealth from the masses to the very few rich  

  • snyderic

    Levin shills for the super
    rich. America needs progressive taxation topping out at 55%, a strong
    Estate Tax to prevent plutocracy, taxation of capital gains as normal
    income, and single payer healthcare to cut costs by half. He pretends
    that his theories are academic and sound, ignoring Republican culture
    wars which are intended to distract us from the red financial crimes of
    the thieving monied class.

    • Madeline

      You are so right.

  • George Siegel

    It sounds as if Yuval is advocating for medicare a system in which government provides to eligible people vouchers useable only to buy private health insurance. Is this what he has in mind? 

  • Jameste

    The free market deregulators have created an unsustainably concentrated distribuition of wealth.  The guest appears to not understand the problem.  Wall Streeters and Doctors need to make less money.  If they won’t work for less at the top, then why would somebody want to work for less at the bottom?
    He seems well meaning, but appears unaware of evidence and inconsistent in his logic.  Nice to hear his point of view. 

    • snyderic

       He does not mean well.  He lies to distract us from the crimes of plutocracy and oligarchy.  Even if he really is a conservative true believer, the effect or his words are the same

  • Plantlust

    Let’s get all encompassing here.
    “Welfare state” doesn’t just apply to humans.  How about corporate “welfare”?  Defense?  Farming subsidies? 

    • Still Here

      Subsidies are given in return for behavior desired by the government.  Welfare seems to be a handout with no strings.

      • ana

        Do you mean like farm subsidies which result in only 3% of our farm  land  used for fruits and vegetable, the rest in subsidized crops of corn and soybeans and thus  the cheap  High frustose cornsyrup can be dispersed through out our food supply to our detriment?   This is the behavior desired by government?  Or could it be desired by big Agribusiness.

        • Still Here

          Supply and demand also matter of course. There’s apparently plenty of demand for corn sugar. Sugar cane doesn’t grow that well in Iowa.

          • Roy Mac

            You spend so much time avoiding questions that you don’t even understand.  Why not just get yourself educated, and stop being such a troll?  People might actually give you the time of day.

          • ana

            Demand for HFCS by food manufacturers.  Until recently it was not known the deleterious effect on the human body  in the large quantities consumed.  It was used  because it is cheap enabled by subsidies with little regard for effect
            on nutrition. 
            Without subsidies pushing The price down, the demand would not be high by the agribusiness

          • Still Here

            In the grocery store, we can choose between HFCS and HFCS-free products and thereby monitor intake.  End market demand by consumers is leading to need for supply.  

          • ana

            That is what discriminate eaters are doing.  Still doesn’t clarify your insinuation  that it is the government that desires HFCS  flooding the market in return for subsidies.

          • Still Here

            Because consumer demand is more responsible for HFCS supply than government subsidy.  

          • Madeline

            Or we can eat food instead of food products.

          • Madeline

            The demand exists because of advertising.  Sugar cane grows in Florida wher they have destroyed the everglades to supply Coke and Pepsi and their ilk.

        • Madeline

          This is what I meant in my reply to Orcnelf

    • Orcnelf

      Farming subsidies are not all bad.  Food supplies are too important not to try to keep them on an even keel.  Tax breaks and other perks for corporations and the wealthy, and unbridled defense spending, yes, those are examples of what could be described as welfare.  

      • Madeline

        Unfortunately farm subsidies subsidize the wrong agricultural products. 

  • Ray in VT

    Below notafeminsta said in reply to one of my comments:

    So yes.  1)You are denying that lowering taxes would increase individual
    income and 2)You think poor people are too stupid to realize this. 
    What a dim view of humanity you have.

    My response is this:

    1.  Lowering taxes wouldn’t increase my income, although it would increase the amount of my income that I retain.  That would probably be true for many people.  What would also be true is that many people would probably end paying for more out of their own pockets for services that are currently paid for via taxes.  Many would also ultimately not pay for items such as medical research, because who needs funding to research a disease that one might only develop 20 years down the road or never?

    2.  Yes, many people are too stupid to realize this.  Take a look at history, and you will see just how horrible and short-sighted humans can be.  Government and religion, when kept in their proper places, are two of the institutions that keep us from acting upon the worst elements of our nature.  It may be a dim view of humanity, but humanity has given me plenty of reasons to feel this way.  Ultimately, though, I think that we can be better than that, which is why I’m an optimist over the long term.

    I would also repeat what I said before.  If red states are so against government, then let them get off of the dole and start taking back only what they put in.

    • notafemnista

      How about stop making “the dole” available.

    • jefe68

      This happened in Colorado Springs or a town in that area.
      They voted for smaller government and so the services such as street lights were turned off. Instead of going for a slightly higher tax they opted for paying for it themselves. So the neighborhoods where they can’t afford this or streets where people are not interested in paying for it go without. While the ones who pay, and they pay more per household, have the street lights turned on at night.   

      This is a good example of cutting off your nose to spite your face. People would rather pay more money than a tax. It’s does make you wonder.

      • notafemnista

        I recall this story – and there was no mention of a tax paid or unpaid in the NYT version.  Simply that the city fathers elected to shut off a portion of street lights to save on the electricity bill.

        Doesn’t quite fit your narrative I realize.

      • Ray in VT

        I also thought about where my aunt lives in Iowa yesterday.  The sidewalks aren’t maintained by the city.  Every homeowner is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in front of his or her home, and, because people don’t shell out the money to keep them up, it’s a challenge to walk anywhere if you’re in less than perfect health, which my elderly aunt is.

  • Ray in VT

    Have a good Independence Day everyone.

  • Orlando Vidali

    I don’t feel like Tom and his left-leaning guest were willing to explore the ideas here at all. A lot of the arguments from the callers, Tom, and Kuttner seemed designed simply to refute anything Levin said and / or reinforce their own worldview rather than work through very real problems.

    For example: Yuval’s point about too big to fail – I was stunned by the responses there … it’s almost like Kuttner was saying, well at least we got something so you better like it … comeon … Dodd / Frank was watered down and no one can really believe it solved too big to fail. Look at all the banking hulks out there looming over the financial sector – you think if Chase collapsed it wouldn’t get bailed out based in it’s enormous size? I mean seriously – how can you defend that? That could have been a point of agreement between all and a segway into meaningful discussion of potential solutions.

    And on health care – denying that it’s a volume based model is ludicrous … hospitals love doctors that can squeeze the most out of Medicare billings = thus more treatments / procedures that are unnecessary, potentially harmful, and steer medicine away from a results-based model (which is should be = it’s just common sense). Just because you don’t like the guy’s conservate ideals doesn’t mean you ignore a fair argument … and this happened a number of times … continually pointing back to the Bush tax cuts and military build-up does not invalidate the point that health care costs are insane and are getting worse, especially as the country ages and the young work-force has difficulties making headway.This was honestly a really disappointing show – it was a civilized version of the less than civilized yammering clogging most of the forums out there (radio, tv, blogs, you name it). No real effort to rationally talk through ideas – just more my side vs your side nonsense.

    • Buddy

      You have expressed my sentiments.  A very good opportunity to have a great, substantive show was squandered by letting it get to “my side vs your side nonsense”. 

  • notafemnista

    From Ray in VT: “I have news for you. People are going to have sex, and kids will sometimes result. Contraception can help with that, but, again, if your suggestion is that poor kids aren’t a problem that society should worry about, then you’ve got some seriously screwed up priorities”

    Having more children than one can afford isn’t screwed up priorities?  My god man, think of the carbon footprint alone!

    For the record, I think all kids are a problem society should worry about.  I hope you are not suggesting that poor kids somehow have more value or are more noble or important than rich kids.

    • ElfmanNW

      people are going to have sex, even poor people. People want to have
      children even poor people. Are you suggesting that rich kids are
      more noble and have greater value? Every child deserves equal
      opportunity in education, health care, etc. Children are going to be
      born to the poor, that is those who are unemployed and those in the
      fastest growing segment of the American population (thanks to the
      trickle down economics/Social Darwinism that has been the base
      economic philosophy from Reagan on) the working poor. Unless one
      institutes forced abortions/birth control, something I don’t see
      coming from the Republicans. They are very concerned with fetuses
      until they are born.

      modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in
      moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral
      justification for selfishness.” John Kenneth Galbraith

      • notafemnista

        So.  Are you advocating for government enforced abortions, or that poor kids are the only ones who need attention or both?

  • ElfmanNW

    However Yuval Levin attempts to dodge
    and weave what he proposes is just libertarian/trickle down economics
    on steroids. The old canard that directing more wealth upward will
    lift all boats. How anyone could look at the past 40 years of doing
    just that with the result, as Robert Kuttner describes, productivity
    increasing yes, but with all the gains going to the top layer, could
    still believe the lifts all boats crap is beyond me. Historically
    when one just looks at the past history of the industrial age in
    America the closer we have come to the ideas of Levin the more
    concentration of wealth into the hands of a few percent there has
    been and the worse the economic conditions of the vast majority of
    Americans. The government is the only mechanism for ameliorating the
    worse excesses of unrestrained capitalism. Please saves me from the
    pure ideologues. The odd caller that called Levin a Marxist was all
    wrong. He is the opposite, a free market capitalist purist.


    • guest too

      When Ashbrook read the first three contributions from 3 listeners,one of
      which was extremely critical painting Levin as a typical propagandist
      for the 1%. Levin never responded to that listeners points, nor did
      Ashbrook follow up reminding him to do so.

      Ashbrook is always tripping all over himself to maintain a “fair and balanced” and “neutral” stance and then ends up clinging to the NPR Standard Issue False Middle™ in staggering egregious disregard of the reality on the ground.

    • http://www.ecoevolution.org/ Ian G

      I think what she was trying to say before Tom cut her off was that pure Marxists believe in no state since it is a vehicle of oppression (in their view.)

  • Guest

    ” Call it extremism, but conservative Yuval Levin doesn’t apologize. The
    U.S. government  needs a radical paring back, he says. We’ll hear him

    Oh good grief, can NPR just stop being so damn partisan for one minute.  Who’s calling it extremism?  Well, lefties do, so I guess at least NPR is being straight-up about their partisanship, but geez, it really makes me not want to listen to you anymore.  I want something objective, something without the spin and not leading.

    • Still Here

      You have come to the wrong place.  Ignore Tom and you’ll get something out of it.

  • Carolyn Cbrow494

    I heard the beginning of the broadcast this evening.  His comments were impassioned, but seemed to be mostly a string of incendiary words attempting rouse others to agree with the desire to pare back on government.  I do not hear anything about ethical commitment to one another as human beings.  Once we “pare back”, will we simply look the other way as people die having less access to medical/health care, less work to meet even basic needs. I just heard him again, 7:23 with the buzz words rethink, reform, inefficiency, etc.  The problem is too complex to deal with on a single level… ie, economic.

  • CXS

    one comment on the content on recent shows … IMHO  the quality of callers comments has decreased. Tom, you might consider a bit more filtering.

  • Dee

    Why is anyone listening to the GOP again? Ask Bob Herbert NYT

    The Liberal Legacy (and the Myth of Conservative Primacy)  

  • Voton

    You’ll “hear him out?” How awfully decent of you! How much longer do I have to help to pay this jackass’ salary?

  • George

    Why do you give this guy air? He’s an f-ing journalist-ideologue – what the heck does he know about anything with all his should be this and that – he sounds like he’s 15 years old! Get a real job!!!

  • Neil

    We are competing in a world against countries that have lower labor costs, environmental regulations, and disregard for quality of life standards, in a deregulatory atmosphere where we all devolve to the lowest common denominator, who wins in the end? Only those who can take advantage for short term gains. The explosion of capitalism is based upon the discovery of cheap  fuel and resource exploitation. Coupled with an enormous population explosion, this cannot last. This petri dish is running out of gelatin. 

  • Chrishof

    The sad fact is that it will take another global war for the US pull out of this slow motion (but accelerating) nosedive.  Talking about who was in control of the political apparatus the past 30 years is largely irrelevant.  The mantra is not simply, “it’s the economy stupid”.  It is “it’s globalization stupid”.

    Globalization = race to the bottom= plutocracy. It’s not new, people like Benjamin Barber (Jihad vs McWorld) saw this 15+ years ago.  Now it’s playing out in real time.

    We can’t go back to the ways things were when someone with a high school education could live a materially rich (by global standards) lifestyle. Unless, that is, we radically change our education system to resemble the Germans where the equivalent of high school grads are ready for employment in high skilled, high paying jobs in high tech manufacturing (unless they go on a university track).

    Our political system(and the european political system) is broken and can not yield the changes needed.  Unfortunately, it will take a crises to resolve the deep structural imbalances, and unfortunately history tells us this crises will come in the form of war.

  • sgredrabbit

    All I hear from Yuval Levin are buzzwords and vague hot-button concepts. Could he possibly be specific? I want to know exactly what programs and entitlements he advocates cutting, by how much, and when?

    • David

      Yes. How about some actual examples of policy changes. *REAL* proposals. How about some examples of how government being “in the way”? Levin has a lot to say, but very little real content. 


    Thank GOD for giving mainstream air time to Yuval Lavin, who is SPEAKING TRUTH to THOSE WHO WILL NOT HEAR.  THANK YOU, Tom, for this program.

    • janus2K

      You’ve got to be kidding. Lavin posts a lot of comments but like all republicans (note the lower case “r” because today’s republicans have nothing in common with the part of Jefferson, Lincoln and Eisenhower) he is light on actual solutions.

  • Jrventure1

    It is amazing that he ignores the need to drastically cut the rate of military spending (talk about a totally useless throwing money down a rathole and a sad loss of life) and that he thinks that there is no reason to start to have to live at a much lower consumption level. Consumerism and promoting capitalistic buying frenzy will not lift the economic conditions of the average person in the United States. It is time to pull the belt in and go on a massive diet in all areas of consumption , whether Medicare, Military spending, or Social Security

  • David

    So Levin says that government should break apart the large banks?

  • David

    Growth comes from investment in productive activities. What investments and/or productive activities does Levin think the government is preventing?



  • SuzanneNYC

    The trouble with utopian plans is that they rarely work — and end up evolving in ways that proponents rarely anticipate.  For instance, when the original Medicare law was passed in 1965 physician reimbursement was different — less favorable to physicians (I can’t remember exactly). But the AMA mounted a campaign to make it more favorable and what was put in place is the current, fee for service plan which is much less efficient and drives up costs. That does need to change, and I believe the ACA begins that process and will ultimately bring costs down.  Everything else is smoke and mirrors.  

    • Brettearle

      HOW will it bring costs down.  HOW?

      I support the President and I support ACA–but I have yet to hear actual PROOF that it WILL bring costs down.

      The Republicans, of course, claim that it is a financial disaster–now, and into the future.

      They don’t prove their claim, either.

      I LITERALLY am not sure ANYONE knows.

      If that’s true, then ACA should not have been shuttled through so quickly.

      It might have been a gargantuan mistake.  It’s quite possible, in looking back on it, they should have spent a lot more time on it. 

      • JGC

        I will reply to you this evening with a few ways the ACA will control costs and bring them down.  I don’t know if any of the information will be new to you, but I just want to check sources to be more certain I transmit their info correctly.

        And I don’t know how they could have spent any more time time perfecting the solution:  this has been on the Democrats’ and even on the Republican Nixonian agendas for 60 years. Time’s up!

        • JGC

          Here are some, maybe more later…

          Check out HealthCare.gov for government and Obamacare info on savings.  Also check out Consumer Reports by subscription or at your library; they often have reports on the health care insurance situation. Some costs that are being driven down:

          - 5.8 billion seniors will continue to save $600 per year on their prescription drugs.

          - By August 2012 millions of Americans will receive a rebate based on portion of ACA that stipulates insurance companies cannot spend more than 20% of premium on administrative costs.

          - ACA provides new tools to detect waste, abuse and fraud:  $4.1-billion recovered in FY2011;  almost $11-billion over last three years.  Electronic record-keeping very important in preventing waste by fraud, but also very important to obtain better health outcomes for patients.  

          We cannot know the actual “proof” of all savings until substantial portions of ACA are implemented, and that won’t be unti lwell into 2014.

          • JGC

            oops, I meant 5.8 million seniors, not billion!  Getting late, time to get some sleep…

          • William

            Medicare loses between 60-80 billion a year to fraud and that has gone on for years. How much Medicaid fraud is there? Now we have Obama-care and do you think the level of fraud will be less?

          • JGC

            The $60-80-billion figure is an estimate for all fraud in U.S. healthcare expenditures, not just Medicare. (www.politifact.com)  Either way, it is a breathtaking figure. With the ramping up of better technology, tracking patterns of fraud and increased use of strike teams in fraud hotspots, greater proportions of fraud will continue to reined in.  If it gets harder for false claims to be filed, the level of fraud will decrease.

            Fraudsters would not be so attracted to the government honeypot if we could go to another reimbursement system for Medicare…Let me see… I remember hearing about how certain anti-Obamacare are nostalgic for the days when poor people could just pay for their doctor services with chickens or bags of apples.  Maybe Medicare could pay claimants, new to the system, in pallets of government cheese and dried milk.  After new claimants’ bonafides are well established, they can  be moved into cash payments. Fraudsters would likely switch into other business opportunities if the U.S. Postal Service was delivering $70-billion worth of milk products to their boiler rooms.

            I see lots of upside to this for U.S. Agriculture as well as the cash-strapped Postal Service.  Now where is that website where I can submit great ideas for saving the U.S. government money?

          • William

            CBS 60 Minutes investigation a few years ago estimated the loss to fraud between 60-80 billion a year and I would think that number is low. And it is not just Government medical program that a full of fraud. Look at the problems with GSA and their trips to Vegas.

        • SuzanneNYC

          Couldn’t have said it better.  Thanks!  Look forward to seeing what you’ve found.  But from the recent discussions I’ve heard following the SCOTUS decision, as of 2014 when it fully kicks in and onward, many costs should start being controlled.  And particularly having more people in the pool, which seems a difficult concept for many skeptics. 

  • Neil

    The rise and fall of the Roman Empire on a global scale. Subconsciously, I think we all know that this can’t go on. Look at our fascination with zombie apocalypses, world plagues and alien invasions. We have not evolved enough to take worldwide action to prevent future long-term decline, it’s just too boring and slow in revealing itself, we just have knee-jerk fascination with wars, reality shows and technological toys. Will we ever wake up in time? I think we can’t get away from our hunting-gathering-survival immediacy to plan that far ahead.

  • eric

    It is amazing when people like Mr. Levin who doesn’t hold public office and whose ideas never consider that in American politics there is always an opposition and a part of the constituency that will always limit any kind of progress.  His ideas does not encompass the idea that there are very vocal people out there whose main goal is to stay on top and maintain the wealth disparity.    

  • Coprophiliac

    Thank you Robert Kuttner for pointing out the idiocy of this Republican Talking Points Robot: Your brief, eloquent statement when you joined the show completely undermined the validity of this guy’s essay and all his blather that preceded it on the airwaves… I look forward to his dodging a rebuttal of your observations.

    • Coprophiliac

      Uh oh, just listening it’s obvious that Levin detects a superior intellect in Kuttner. All of a sudden he’s “not suggesting getting government out of the way.” 

      Where’s his data supporting statements along the lines of “Obama’s policies inhibit growth”?

      Notice the difference in substance between Kuttner and Levin.

      This guy is saying nothing! Complete waste of breath and airwaves.

      • Coprophiliac

        How many times has Levin said “innovation,” “growth,” and “inefficiency,” among myriad other buzzwords? I should be taking shots each time he does…

  • Tom Sorenson

    Why doesn’t socialized medicine ever enter any converstation on healthcare???!!!

    • Brettearle

      It does frequently

      • Coprophiliac

        Too frequently, I hope you mean? Clearly Mr. Sorenson enjoys paying money out of pocket for something all other industrialized nations have “socialized.”

  • John Slonaker

    Smaller government is an idea that arises because big government is failing the middle class and without a healthy middle class there is no voice to speak for moderation.  Both the exceptionally greedy wealthy and the exceptionally envious poor speak for radical solutions that destroy the middle class and democracy.    Levin is very wrong when he envisions growth from liberated free markets.  We are evolving toward “localism” because there are too many people chasing too few resources.  We are in the iron grip of entropy, either as a law of thermodynamics or as a metaphor.  In either case it is operative in the modern world.  Thus econimic growth is NOT the answer, because, as practiced in the past, it is now extinct as a possibility.  We must re-learn the economics of the pre-capitalist age.  The cost/benefit curve is flattening no matter which energy source we use.  This is entropy in action.  Whether it is fracking or nuclear power plants or deep ocean drilling or solar panels in orbit, we are getting less and less energy per dollar expended.  The future thus is smaller government –  we will divide into regions, practice sustainable no-growth economics, and learn to live without either greed or envy.  That is the ideal, but to reach it will be a very painful passage through a narrow gate.  My vision of “small is beautiful” is worlds away from Levin’s. 

  • Alanjknig

    This was a very good program tonight.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1273328048 Tomasina Covell

     Yuval Levin?  God why is the worst fascist always a Jew!  Gut that swine before he’s allowed to shmos his neocon lies on another show!

  • ulTRAX


    I write this knowing I’ve been banned 3 times just today from posting here.

    I know I cross the civility line when responding to moronic posts…
    usually by braindead right wingers… (oops, there I go again!) But I
    believe my overall contribution to this forum is substantive. I’m just
    wondering how many have also been banned and if there’s a pattern. 

    • JGC

      I have been banned on about three occasions, and I really did not have a clue as to why.  But it did not last very long, maybe for a half hour or so.  

      • ulTRAX

        I recall a year ago about this time that there was a rash of bannings. And now again? Maybe there are some over zealous interns!  

        • JGC

          Yeah, I was just doing random backchecks in the history here, and found a posting by Modavations about being due for his banning, and a reply from T3 about also being banned on occasion.  This was from a forum in August 2011.  

    • JGC

      When I click on your profile above, it is just reduced to this one posting. But if I go back to another older program, your full history comes up.  

      • ulTRAX

        The profile is based on one’s email address. You can post using some thing like a@gmail.com and look at the profile and find others who used that shortcut address. I run some forums and there are just a few ways to block someone… user name, email, and IP address.

        • JGC

          So are you using a different e-mail or IP from usual but disqus is kicking you out as if someone else is trying to take over the ulTRAX identity? 

          Good luck. Must go to sleep now…

          • ulTRAX

            The problem with Disqus is it combines anyone who uses the same email address into one file. But on a board like this where we don’t sign in with an actual PW, people like myself signed in with short, fake addresses like a@gmail.com  I didn’t know my posts were then linked to all the others who did the same over the years… on all topics all over the world.  

  • Mark

    I could not disagree more with Mr Levin.  He fails to consider in his arguement:

    1. The vision of a Social Democracy and a broader responsibility to your community is one of the most important drivers of a free market economy.  In the last 30 years, we have seen a decreasing commitment from corporations to their employees.  As a result, individuals no longer see their future as tied to that of their employer and act in a way to advance their individual financial and personal goals rather than those of their employer.  No longer can you argue that a corporate officer will necessarily act in the long-term best interest of the corporation…or even the short-term best interests of the corporation if they are counter to their own short or long term goals.  I am sure that he would argue that creating individual incentives that allign with corporate goals would address this.  However, that is precicely what regulation seeks to do and he argues that is inefficient.  That may be true, but everything is relative and I’m not sure it isn’t the most efficient way to achieve a goal given the menu of options.

    2. He speaks passionately about the free market, competition, efficiency and innovation but says nothing about one of the biggest threats to all of these – Citizens United.  More often than not, large campaign contributions are used by large corporations to bypass the free market, using regulations to squash the next great innovation – their next competitor.  He either has a very naieve view of the role of special interests or is misguided. 

    3.  There was some discussion of Medicare Advantage Plans, but no real discussion as to the reason the US spends more and gets less than other countries.  If he is so pro-market, why not advocate using the market to get more for less – allowing Medicare more freedom to negociate prices on things like drugs.  Oh…never mind – see #2 – already touched on that.

    4. What about the labor market?  Is that really a free market when you are tied to a job because your kid is sick?  How is that a free market or efficient?

    I could go on, but after a while, the manipulation, misinformation and (in some cases) malice just wears me out.  How the Republicans have managed to convince the very people who would benefit the most that this is a bad thing will never cease to azmaze me.

  • notafemnista

    To SuzanneNYC below:  Children may have been preferred and I know that’s the popular party line, but the fact remains it was not the evil,exploitative robber barons who put the children to work.  The children were offered up and approved to work by.their.parents.  Period.

    • SuzanneNYC

      I’ve never heard such a bizarre explanation for child labor.  Party line?  What about history — that booger thing?  You could look it up.  It was not about parents.  I suppose if factories required children’s work and families needed income to survive, then children went to work.  So you could twist this to claim that parents served their children up as labor.  But making parents more the villain than the “robber barons” and factory owners is totally out of the mainstream on this.  You might want to read up on the labor and social reform movements in the US and note that many of the reformers were women (i.e. mothers).  We seem to be returning to the less progressive more exploitative time — let’s see how it plays out.  “Are there no poor houses?” — E. Scrooge

      • notafemnista

        Out of the mainstream doesn’t make it wrong.  It makes it unpopular, which is an entirely different thing. 

        Furthermore, that children might have been preferred is counter-intuitive.  Children might have been able to be paid less this is true, and as the narrative goes, were able to fit into smaller spaces.  However, children would have been less dextrous, less cognizant and have less stamina than adults.  Using children as a preferred or primary source of labor doesn’t make sense from any perspective.  I’m fully aware of women’s role in social and labor movements, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was the parents sending the children to work as, Ray in VT pointed out, a means to survive.  Making the robber barons responsible for that choice is at the very least, intellectuallly dishonest.

        • JGC

          Maybe both were complicit.

      • jefe68

        I think you’re wasting your time. As the answer below states. This person is so blinded by ideology and her own dogma that she can’t see straight.
        Lets blame the victims. It’s a woman’s fault for being rapped. It’s the slaves fault for being a slave.

        It’s not about education at this point. This is an example of people that are so far gone up their own back passages that they can’t even see the light of day anymore. 

        • notafemnista

          Interesting point you make.  On a related note, the US brought 9/11 on itself…yes or no?

          • Jeffe68

            What about it?
            Events like this have nothing to do with the history of labor in the US.
            You are changing the subject, and using a loaded question to do so. 
            Are you really this immature?

          • notafemnista

            I’m curious to see where you really stand on blame the victim.

          • jefe68

            Funny how you twist things. Well it’s not funny, sad really.

            Go read the Deceleration of Independence, it’s all about that today.

      • notafemnista

        Ok, you tell me.  How did the children get INTO the workforce in the first place in order to need reforming?

    • jefe68

      Some very warped view points you have there.


  • Paxtriot

    Over 100 years ago, Lenin wrote about the “useful idiots” – those who supported communism even if it went against their interests. I am not sure whether Mr. Levin is a useful idiot or a corporate shill. He sure sounds sincere enough. The problem is that his viewpoint benefits only the few billionaires and corporate owners – not the majority. Social democracies like Western Europe or the US in the 60s are the only countries that did anything to benefit the majority. The result was better life for everyone. The social democracies today are failing because they are gutted from within by the corporate elite, and from without by third word dictatorships who export their citizens’ labor for pennies on the dollar. Doing more of that will just push the US faster down the road towards a “Latin America” style oligarchy.

  • somalia

    For all the black females -like my daughter- who been laboring here on Turtle Island  LONG BEFORE July 4 1776. And who know MORE than ANY other citizen of this shameful nation, that when cuts come, they shall be first in line for a taste of the bitterness.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXtTPLvmBC0

    Big up to the Powatan Nation, the Irocois, the Algoncuoin, the Mohawk, the Aborezek, the proud Shawnee of Ohio, the Pecuot, the Penobscot, the Cherokee, the Creek, the mighty Seminoles, the Commanchee, the Lakota, the Navajo, and all my other red sisters and brothers. Unite with me in the long forgotten memory of Tecumsehs Confederacy on this sweltering fourth of July 2012 and lets all wish Uncle Sam a jolly FUCK YOU!!!

    Cut all the government you want. For the end is near you idiots! All you fat obnoxious hypocrites feeding at the troff of lard in your own piss and shit like the swine that you are. The end is near!! And I still aint get my 40 acres!  

    • somalia


      “he was the leader of the group, Crispus Attucks is credited with being the first casualty of the American Revolution: “the first to defy, the first to die.”
      His father, Prince Yonger, was brought from Africa as a slave. His mother was Nancy Attucks, a Natick Indian. (The word “attuck” in the Natick language means deer.)
      Crispus Attucks’ maternal grandfather, John Attucks, was one of the “Praying Indians” who had been converted to Christianity by missionary John Eliot. During the British-Indian conflict in 1676 known as “King Philip’s War”, Grandfather John Attucks was hanged for treason along with another Natick Christian Indian, Captain Tom Tray, because the British did not believe they would remain loyal to the British against other Indians.
      When Crispus Attucks was 27 years old, he offered to buy his freedom with money he had saved from buying and selling cattle. After his master refused, Crispus ran away and for the next 20 years came and went from American ports as a whaling ship sailor.
      Crispus Attucks was described as 6’2″, stout, light skinned with short curly hair. In one account, he was said to be leading 20 to 30 men to the Customs House.”

      “Honor to Crispus Attucks, who was leader and voice that day;The first to defy, and the first to die, with Maverick, Carr, and Gray.Call it riot or revolution, his hand first clenched at the crown:His feet were the first in perilous place to pull the King’s flag down:His breast was the first one rent apart that liberty’s stream might flow;For our freedom now and forever, his head was the first laid low.Call it riot or revolution, or mob or crowd, as you may,such deaths have been seed of nations, such lives shall be honored for aye.”
      -John Hancock

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ImIEcsTEVoLong Live Daniel Shays!!! Long Live Tecumsah!! Long Live John Brown!! Long Live Liberty!!!!!!!!

      Long Live Daniel Shays!!! Long Live Tecumsah!! Long Live John Brown!! Long Live Liberty!!!!!!!!


  • aj

    What you know about pirate radio on npr comment section disqus?

    • aj

      You tried to censor me like McCarthy! Have you no shame Disqus? It was people like you who blacklisted Woody Guthrie out of hearth and home, and now 60 years later you honor him on the 236 year anniversary of this atrocious fatally flawed republic. Shame on you disqus! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!

      ” Dissent is the highest form of patriotism ”
      -Thomas Jefferson 

      • Zero

         They have been trying to censor me as well.

      • aj

        ” I am William Wallace, and the rest of you will be spared. Go back to England and tell them… Scotland is free! ”

        - Wallace 1297 A.D.

  • Robert Heltzen

    Ideology is not the answer. The old model/solutions are not working and they are not going to work. We, the USA, certainly have the resources to create a viable future for everyone. Somehow, each of us has to become a political party of one. The special interest, the ideologues, none have our interest at heart. They do not care for our children’s future, only their own short term future(s). The republicans, “fiddle while the republic burns”, Obama sits in his office, like a miscreant employee, while the bankers, the people that nearly destroyed our country, tell him how they would like to be regulated, what rules they want, and please give us more money if we fail, again. At this point I think all of us need to say enough! Our future, our country, is too important to be treated like a secondhand afterthought, to endless ideological games.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5TJVMVWOUAXE2WI655HR4WPT34 Thomas P

    To me, the discussion on the program mirrors the entire problem. Mr. Levin does a good job identifying some serious problems, but his solutions aren’t worthy of his analysis. Mr. Kuttner doesn’t really acknowledge the problems, but cites the history of the Clinton and George W. Bush fiscal records to say see I told you so. Kutter may be right, but there is an off-putting glibness there. 

  • Logan

    Sometimes I think rich people just get off on dividing poor people into any two categories and baiting them to fight each other for the scraps.  Red vs blue, old vs young, white vs other.   It’s pretty sad that we fall for it almost every time.

  • Emitr

    I liked a lot of what Levin was saying, but he sounds like a neoconservative.  I’ve come not to trust neoconservatives, because what they do is bait-and-switch.  They sound smart and creative, but their new sounding rhetoric is intended to persuade the masses to lend their policies support, while their policies privately aim at ulterior agendas.  I could support much of what Levin says if I could take it at face value, but I don’t trust him to mean what he says. The biggest red flag comes when he asserts that Obama is entrenched against Levin’s ideas.  In fact, though, Obama attempted health care reform along the lines that Levin explicitly advocates–for example, moving away from the fee-for-service model–but Congress, especially Republicans, thwarted him.  If Levin were sincere about the policies he advocates, he would give Obama credit for this rather than dismiss him as wholly in opposition, and Levin would be less an advocate of the Republican party in the elections.

  • Bregman

    You didn’t give Yuval Levin enough time to speak. Just measure the percent of time he had the air. It’s not a serious effort to include conservative voices if you don’t give them airtime. 

  • Grandpadewey

    This guy sounds like an over-educated elitist spoiled brat. Probably lives in a closed-in community and avoids the “less desirable” parts of town. Also, too young to really know what he’s talking about.

  • tunnelman

    Thanks much for putting this outdated, neoconservative rubbish in full view. The small government argument was discredited years ago. This guy is a bad representative for a bad policy direction.

  • Anon

    Great piece, although I wish Tom had been less adversarial toward Mr. Levin, especially later in the segment. While I doubt that I agree with Mr. Levin on much, I, for one, think I would have learned more from this segment had Mr. Levin been given more of an opportunity to articulate his position without being interrupted. 

Sep 15, 2014
In this Thursday, Sep. 11, 2014 photo, Middle Eastern leaders stand together during a family photo with of the Gulf Cooperation Council and regional partners at King Abdulaziz International Airport’s Royal Terminal in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

President Obama says he will build a coalition of partners in the Middle East to combat ISIS. We’ll do a reality check on who’s really stepping up for what.

Sep 15, 2014
This Monday, Sept. 27, 2010 file photo shows hikers on the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. (AP/Carson Walker)

Uproar over development plans for the Grand Canyon. We go to the Navajo Nation and the Canyon floor to see what’s at stake.

Sep 12, 2014
In this May 23, 2014, file photo, Janay Rice, left, looks on as her husband, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, speaks to the media during a news conference in Owings Mills, Md. (AP/Patrick Semansky)

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Sep 12, 2014
President Barack Obama meets with Congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, to discuss options for combating the Islamic State. (AP/Evan Vucci)

The President’s ISIS strategy. The Ray Rice video. Congress is back. Apple’s new watch. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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