HH: The non-deficit reducing, deficit reduction bill has passed, 260-167, 59 Republicans voting against it. The chairman of the Appropriations committee, Hal Rogers, said I just want this bill over with. But here’s the kicker. Although the Congressional Budget Office says it does cut $350 million, not billion in total spending, in fact, overall spending, when you include emergency overseas spending in 2011, will rise this year by $3 billion over 2010 levels. To discuss government math, none other than Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all of his work at www.steynonline.com. Mark, it was great to see you on Sunday night, although after you were done talking, I felt like taking a right turn at the Santa Monica pier and just keep driving.
MS: (laughing) Exactly. And you know, I had, when I saw you on Sunday night, I said that this historic, you know, $38.5 billion dollar cut amounted to the amount of money that the United States government borrows every ten days, slightly under ten days. And I thought that was pathetic enough. Now we find that it’s only a cut of $350 million, which is equivalent to what the United States government borrows every two hours. I mean, back in the 90s, I think there was a sort of competition to calculate how much money had to have fallen out of his pocket onto the sidewalk for it to be worth it in man hours for Bill Gates stooping to pick it up.
MS: …because he made so much. And in this case, it is absolutely not worth the time it takes to type up a bill that merely cuts the equivalent of two hours of government spending. This is why, if this is the best that John Boehner can do, I expect nothing from Harry Reid. But if this is the best John Boehner can do, then I’m sorry, this country is dead. And there’s no question about it, because the political institutions are impervious to course correction.
HH: And this is what brings us to, in fact, the New York Times article on this has this paragraph in it. When projected emergency contingency spending overseas is figured in by the Budget office, estimated outlays for this year will actually increase by more than $3 billion.
HH: So Mark Steyn, do they think we wouldn’t notice this?
MS: I know. This…any more historic budget cuts like this…
MS: I think I’ll drive off that pier even faster.
MS: You know, a historic budget cut that actually increases spending, this is a joke. This is a total joke. You know what we need to do? We need to abolish a cabinet department at the very minimum to show that the United States government is capable of reform. This country is broke. This country is broke, and the only thing preventing it from turning into Portugal, and then Zimbabwe, is the fact that the dollar is the global currency.
MS: And so debt is…and like for Zimbabwe or Iceland, debt is denominated in dollars. So you can’t debauch the currency in the same way that you can in Zimbabwe. But the minute the Chinese and the Saudis and the Russians decide it’s no longer worth propping up the dollar as global currency, then we are Zimbabwe.
HH: And already, we are seeing it in commodities markets as we have to start paying in devalued dollars for real things, those real things get a lot more expensive.
HH: Okay, against this backdrop, Mark Steyn, the President goes on yesterday and gives what I think is easily the worst presidential address of my life. How did you grade it?
MS: Yes, I would say so, too, because President Obama always sinks to the occasion. He is a man who has shrunk in office. In a sense, the fraud of his election, a man with no talents other than for self-promotion, is revealed every time he has to rise to the occasion. You start thinking how this man would have, what this man would have said if he had to stand up in the House of Commons, as Winston Churchill did, after the fall of France, for example. He sinks to the occasion. And in this case, we have the usual petty, partisan, un-presidential snippiness, the usual pathetic straw man arguments, and the lamest of lame tropes all about investing in the future and all the rest of it. Government has invested in the future, and as a result, we don’t have one. We need less government investment in the future, because this government has invested like crazy in the future. And the only result of that is that unless you’re planning on getting hit by a logging truck, or coming down with a fatal case of bird flu in the next thirty days, your future is over, because this government spends it.
HH: Now if you actually counted up the number of outright fabrications in this speech, it would easily, it would be like the deficit spending clock. Let me ask you, though, don’t you love Joe Biden and the service that he provides us all by falling asleep during the speech?
MS: Yes, I know. I have got to say, though, that I think that is actually a metaphor for the governing class. You know, Obama, the President supposedly schedules a speech to address this looming crisis, and Joe Biden, the next in line, sleeps through it. That is a metaphor for the governing class as the most predictable catastrophe in history, we continue to careen towards.
HH: Now I was tempted at the Sunday night event, when I was in the back row, I was going to bring along a sign that said talk about Trump, but I didn’t do that. And so now I’ve got to ask you to talk about Trump. The Donald said this week, I mean, it actually made me take a quick breath, he said he was going to run as a third party. You know, that’s just Ross Perot. That will give the presidency back to Barack Obama. Do you think he’s serious?
MS: Well, I think he is serious about it. And you know the strange thing about this is that the Republicans play into his hands. The more they go the John Boehner line, the more they’re up on TV trying to explain to us why the most historic budget cut in the whole of historic history actually increases spending, the more people roll their eyes and say to hell with, a plague on the entire political class, let’s just take a guy who’s a proven success at something, even if it’s only real estate and reality TV shows, and take a flier on him. And so I think any kind of Trump phenomenon is in a sense a response to the sort of tentativeness and lack of ability to make things happen that the Republicans are currently demonstrating.
HH: Any doubt in your mind, though, that if it was a Perot reprise, and Trump was the third party candidate, he would siphon off enough to just hand the presidency back to Barack Obama?
MS: Oh, yes, I think that’s true. But I think undoubtedly, that a Trump third party run guarantees an Obama second term. But you know, at some point, real Republican candidates have to get in this game, have to get into this game for real. And this is no time, this is no time for the tentativeness we’re seeing from the Republican establishment. That will just, that’s just driving traffic to the Trump end of the spectrum.
HH: And I was heartened at the fact that Pawlenty, Romney, Gingrich and every other Republican who has commented on the budget deal denounced it as being weak tea, and the President’s speech was just dismissed out of hand. So at least the presidential candidates are reflecting the national electorate. I want to go back to the D.C. elite, Mark Steyn. It seems to me this was a giant exercise in empowering lobbyists in Washington’s special deal making, and that this time, it was the friends of the Republicans that won the deals.
HH: And that whole thing last week wasn’t really about cutting spending. It was about snipping and cutting and recalculating things for our lobbying colleagues.
MS: Yeah, and I think there are two, I think you have to assume that John Boehner is not a stupid man, so that he well understands the authentic character of this deal. And that’s even more problematic than him just being stupid and getting rolled by the Democrats, because it suggests that the Republican party were willing to perpetrate an act of deeply destructive political theater on the American people. And that is worrying to me. The issue, I think, for the Republicans is a simple one. It’s authenticity. They want a guy who’s going to stand up and tell the truth, and is not going to be the creature of anyone except the citizenry of the United States. This is the time for a Republican virtues, and a citizen executive who understands that he is the servant of the people. And that’s everything John Boehner has thrown away in the days since Friday.
HH: All right, best case scenario, and I’ll let you see whether or not it’s got any wings at all, is that Boehner knew what he was doing, but this was the Beltway class’ payoff for getting the Republicans back into power with finances and support, and that the debt bill is where the real knives come out, and Boehner brings down the hammer.
MS: Yeah, I keep getting told…every time we get a disappointment, where Republicans don’t take a stand, we’re told oh, don’t worry about it. Next time is where the real battle is. Next time is where the real battle is. Next time is now. Not just for the Republican party, but for the United States of America. And that’s why this party has to act as if there are things it believes in, in the way that the Democrats do. The Democrats went to the mat for Planned Parenthood funding.
MS: You know, which in the scheme of things, to Democrats, can’t be that important. But actually for them, it is a bedrock issue, and they stand on it. And that is what our guys have to start learning to do.
HH: And they haven’t. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.com, America. You can get Mark’s brand new book there as well, Lights Out.
End of interview.