GB: We are delighted to be joined by Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read his work at www.steynonline.com. Hello, Mark.
MS: Hey, Guy, happy sequestration eve to you.
GB: And to you, too, sir. I’ve read your books, I’ve listened to your commentary. And I just picture you watching this sequester debate, where we’re really discussing shaving off $44 billion dollars out of $3.6 trillion, which still amounts to a net spending increase. And all the histrionics really from both sides of the aisle, you must be experiencing this with some degree of gallows bemusement.
MS: Yeah, I’m not big on those Mayan guys, but those Mayan guys only hold an apocalypse every few thousand years. Washington now has a Mayan apocalypse every six weeks, whether it’s the fiscal cliff or the debt ceiling, or now the sequestration. And as you say, it’s talking about $44 billion dollars, or about what the United States government borrows, borrows every nine days, every nine days. So in other words, we’ve just spent weeks talking about nine days’ worth of borrowing, which in any eventual deal isn’t actually going to be saved anyway, because the latest deficit reduction bill actually increases the deficit, because that’s just the way Washington works.
MS: So we’re just basically standing up in front of the world with a big, flashing, neon sign on our heads saying we’re the dumbest guys on the planet with this stuff, and we’re doing it every six weeks.
GB: Just so people who might not be familiar with the story you just referenced, I’ll just go back and read this from the Associated Press. White House backed legislation in the Senate to replace $85 billion dollars in across the spending cuts, would raise the deficit through the end of the budget year by tens of billions of dollars. So deficit reduction = raise taxes and increase the deficit. Thank you, Democrats.
MS: Yeah, and you know what’s crazy about this is that let’s pretend that the officials who are speaking on this, the cabinet secretaries who are coming out and telling us that the world will come to an end tomorrow, that the planes are going to be dropping from the skies, that our infants and seniors are going to be dying untended in hospitals, that your shower head is going to be blasting out fecal coliform on you in the morning, that all of this is going to be happening just for his hypothetical $40 billion dollars of so-called entirely phony sequestration cuts, now assuming they’re not just lying to us. They’re basically telling us that nothing can ever be done about Washington spending ever. If $40 billion of hypothetical cuts means that the planes are dropping from the skies, and Obama’s even cancelled the deployment of a carrier to the Gulf, you know, in other words, when the Iranians go nuclear, he’ll be able to say oh, I would have stopped that, but we were all tied up with the sequestration. Sequestration is what allowed the mullahs to go nuclear. If that’s true, nothing can ever be done about anything ever, and Washington might as well just close up and go home.
GB: That’s precisely the point. I think George Will had a very funny clip about this. I’m paraphrasing, he said we now know from liberal governance that the current amount of money being spent at any moment in time is the bare minimum that separates the country from intolerable suffering. And that’s pretty much what they believe. But Mark Steyn, it actually gets worse. Maxine Waters, Democrat, California, warned of a new threat that sequestration poses. This is very distressing, cut 1:
MW: We don’t need to be having something like sequestration that’s going to cause these job losses, over 170 million jobs that could be lost.
GB: 170 million jobs lost tomorrow, Mark Steyn.
MS: Yeah, and that’s just from the Transportation Security Administration. This is catastrophic.
GB: I mean, she clearly misspoke. You hope that that was just misspeaking. But this is the sort of…
MS: Well, I don’t know about that, by the way. I mean, one of the things I find, and you will not be unfamiliar with this, Guy, is that these heavily staffed Congressmen, Congresswomen, Senators, are often entirely economically illiterate. It may well be that Maxine Waters has absolutely no idea, could not reliably name the population of this country, or the number of people in employment at any one time. Nancy Pelosi had a similar remark on this a couple of years ago when she said that something like 60 million jobs were…
GB: No, it’s worse. We’ve got it, Mark. Let’s play it.
NP: Every month that we do not have an economic recovery package, 500 million Americans lose their jobs.
GB: 500 million jobs a month.
MS: I didn’t really…500 million jobs a month would be lost. That’s the entire population of the United States, plus Canada, plus the United Kingdom, plus Germany, plus Australia losing their jobs every month. I mean, that’s the thing. These guys can’t stand up in public and demonstrate any reliable…why is it any surprise that they accidentally spent $16 trillion dollars they don’t have? They’ve got no grasp of numbers, these guys.
GB: Yeah, I think maybe in Pelosi’s case or Waters’ case, they might have misspoken. But even if you give them that benefit of the doubt, it still speaks to the hyperbolic hyperventilation that we’ve heard from the left for weeks now, where they can just roll numbers like that off the tongue and not even bat an eyelid. So Mark, on the other side of the political discussion, foreign policy, national security, I’m sure you are as confident as I am in the new smart power team that we have ensconced over at the White House – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry, your thoughts.
MS: Yeah, I said to Hugh a few weeks ago if you’d told me ten years ago that in a decade’s time Joe Biden would be Vice President, John Kerry would be Secretary of State, and Chuck Hagel Secretary of Defense, I’d have thought it was one of these kind of bizarro alternative universe Planet of the Apes type scenarios. But alas, it has actually happened. And I think it’s fascinating. I mean, Chuck Hagel is there for a purpose. He’s the cover for the downsized military, for the post-great power military that is the natural consequence of big government at home. And this is very familiar to some of us who are children of empire, such as myself, because the United Kingdom had to make the same decisions in the post-war period. You can have big government at home, or you can be the global order maker, but you can’t be both. And Obama’s made his decision, and that’s what Chuck Hagel’s there for.
GB: And then you’ve got Senator Kerry, or now Secretary Kerry, on his first international trip, inventing a Central Asian country, and just flippantly mentioning that well, Iran’s government is elected, so we should talk to them.
MS: Yeah, yeah. I mean, this is the guy, don’t forget, this is the fellow who had been going on these one on one summits with boy Assad in Damascus for years on end. Why would you expect him, he basically has got every single foreign policy issue wrong for the last four decades. Why would you be, why would you expect him to be on top of which Stan…if it’s Tuesday, it must be this Stan. If it’s Wednesday, is must be that Stan. He can’t tell his Azerbaijan, the Jan that thinks it’s a Stan that thinks it’s a Jan from his Tajikistan, his Uzbekistan, his Kyrgyzstan, his Kazikhstan, his who gives a Stan, he can’t tell when he’s in the capitol of Who-Gives-A-Stan. He has no idea.
GB: He does speak French, though, apparently, very rudimentary French. And speaking of France…
MS: No, I speak rudimentary French. He can ask where the toilet is. Let’s just get that straight, Guy.
GB: So Mark, I know that you’re a huge fan of Francois Hollande, the socialist running France right now. You’ve got a poster of him up in your bedroom from what I understand. Sadly for him, though, his poll ratings have cratered to 30%, the lowest for any leader there in more than a decade. Are you surprised that the French are turning on their socialist so quickly?
MS: No, they’re not really turning on him, though. I mean, this is a guy they voted for. Basically, the French electoral system, France is a very elitist society. And its approved leaders come from left of center, and every so slightly right of left of right of left of right of center. So there’s not really any choice, and they always, when somebody starts by proposing tough medicine as Sarkozy did for a couple of weeks, they were with him for ten minutes, and then they say no, we want to retire at 48, and we want you to keep the good stuff going until we’re dead, and after that, we don’t care. So they voted for Hollande, they deserve to live with him.
GB: Mark Steyn, www.steynonline.com, as always, a pleasure. Who-Gives-A-Stan, that’s an instant classic.
End of interview.