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Mark Steyn’s sober analysis of the debt crisis, and whether the GOP even understand it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011
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HH: I begin this hour with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all of Mark’s work at www.steynonline.com. I find him tonight in Canada. Hello, Mark, and good evening to you.

MS: No, no. I’m actually in Michigan, which actually isn’t in Canada, although in fact judging from what I got into trouble for saying about Detroit, it wouldn’t even rise to the standard of Canada. I’m in the state of Michigan.

HH: Well, I’m glad to hear you’re in the Wolverine state. Watch out for rappers driving big, black cars around. This is how we roll. Mark Steyn, I began this week to really hammer Republicans in the House, because they are moving so slow and they lack a message. So I’m going to test my concern against yours. Do you think the House Republicans are blowing it?

MS: Yeah. I think November seems a long way away. And I think they’re missing the big lesson of the last two years, which is that the Tea Party, and a broader swathe of the American public who are concerned about, particularly about American spending and the debt crisis, agreed in the last electoral cycle to work within the confines of the Republican Party they had very little regard for. The Republican leadership needed to get that message, because it’s not going to be good for this Republican party if they say okay, we forgave you for 2006, we forgave you for that, and we gave you a second chance, and now you’ve burned the second chance.

HH: Now the Wall Street Journal today put out one of these classic polls that begins to show the turning of the MSM tide against budget cutting, saying that less than a quarter of Americans support making significant cuts to Social Security or Medicare. This is one of those manufactured polls, Mark. They’re going to try and persuade the House GOP and other budget cutters that there really isn’t support in the country for cutting budgets.

MS: Well, and it doesn’t make any difference. I mean, polls show that more American males would rather date Ann Hathaway than Helen Thomas. But it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. And in this case, the polls can say what they like. But the fact is, these entitlements are unsustainable. So Americans can tell pollsters that they’re quite happy with 1930s entitlement provisions for Social Security, but it ain’t going to be there. And the longer it takes you to figure that out, the more likely it is that this country will simply slide off a cliff. And I mean that not entirely literally, but I mean that we will reduce vast swathes of the United States to a third world landscape. This country is broke. Don’t go from being broke to being bankrupt. This isn’t anything to do with mid-century projections. This is happening now. We’ve got maybe a couple of years to turn this around before the world abandons the dollar as the reserve currency.

HH: Now that I believe, and I believe that a lot of Americans, at least a majority of people who voted for Republicans believe that. But what I don’t see is that sense of urgency reflected in John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy’s engagement with the media. Have I missed it? Have you seen it, Mark Steyn?

MS: No, no. I don’t think so at all. I think they’re toying with symbolic gestures. This House vote on the 1099 provision, where 1099 is one of these tedious bits of government paperwork that the Congress thought it could actually increase the burden that this tedious paperwork imposes on small businesses. But these are, in the end, mainly symbolic gestures. Cutting $4 billion dollars when you’ve got a budget that’s crashing up against $4 trillion dollars is just not going to cut it. And that’s, as you say, that’s what’s missing, the sense of urgency. There’s a kind of complacency about this, as if the canoe’s just sort of drifting toward the falls, but we’ve still got plenty of time to paddle for shore in a couple of decades.

HH: Well, I had Sean Spicer as the new RNC communications director on yesterday, and look up, and I’m talking to Sean Spicer, and I see Eric Cantor chattering away with Wolf Blitzer. And I asked him, who does Eric think he’s talking to? And I wonder, Mark Steyn, none of the House leadership went to the Tea Party Patriots summit, not one of them.

MS: No.

HH: And it makes me think they’re in a cocoon inside of the Beltway.

MS: Yeah, and I think the cocoon, actually, isn’t up to speed on this, because I think if you listen to the way the conversation in the Beltway is going, they’re saying well, yes, perhaps we do need a spending cut here and a spending cut there, cutting the Great Lakes Restoration initiative, or whatever the President’s big idea is. But we also need to increase revenue by putting up taxes. There’s no, all the evidence shows you can’t get revenue up beyond about 19% of GDP. So if you’re spending 25% of GDP on government spending, you can’t increase that with revenue. And that’s the problem when John Boehner and the Republican leadership just talks to Wolf Blitzer and the New York Times and all the rest of it. They’re not actually even asking the right questions. And I think this will, I think that this is very dangerous as we go into the 2012 cycle, that the Republican leadership is already demonstrating how far out of touch it is.

HH: I agree with that. Now why is it that a Scott Walker, and especially in Ohio, nobody notices this, but yesterday, the Ohio State Senate passed a deeply important bill about reducing collective bargaining rights, far more significant than what’s happened in Wisconsin, because it’s guaranteed now of passing. What do Kasich and Walker know that the Beltway Republicans don’t?

MS: Well, I think because generally speaking, the closer government is to the people, the more real it is if things are working well. So there’s more chance of fixing some of these problems at state and country and municipal level. I think one of the problems with the government of the United States is that they, over the last few decades, is there’s been this colossal expansion of national government, national legislation, national agencies, national regulations. When you’re seen in Washington, you must feel like a kind of emperor. You’re sitting there…everything has, you know, zeroes upon zeroes stuck at the end of it, you’re legislating for 350 million people, and I think too many of these guys think it’s sort of still 1950, and American is the last superpower standing, and it will always be that way. And that’s what’s so depressing about Washington. Washington is like entering a time warp. It has no idea of the severity of the crisis, and how the world is already beginning to move on to the post-American era.

HH: Did you chance to read or hear Donald Trump on with Rush talking about the challenge from the Chinese yesterday or the day before, Mark Steyn?

MS: Yeah, I love the way every time he slammed a different nation state, whether it was the Chinese or the South Koreans, he said I’ve worked with these guys, I sold them some unwanted apartment development for $300 million dollars or whatever. And they’re lovely guys, but they’re, I don’t blame them for what they’re doing, for taking advantage of us. And I thought in that sense, actually, he has the kind of making, in a crude way, of some sort of political message there.

HH: Well, it was the echo of John Connally in 1980, saying to the Japanese you can park your cars on the dock, and we are not going to import them. That’s not the way to deal with this, though. I kind of think of him as the Aaron Burr of 2012. But the fact that Trump is out there and resonating, and Rush likes to hear it and it sounds good tells me that what he’s filling is a vacuum for blunt talk that the D.C. Republicans, the Beltway GOP, just doesn’t understand is everything in this cycle.

MS: Yeah, but just to go back to what he was saying, I mean, he did say, and my understanding of what he was saying is that he didn’t blame the Chinese and the South Koreans, and everyone else, for taking advantage of us.

HH: No, he didn’t. That’s right.

MS: I mean, basically, we can’t blame the Chinese. What they’re doing, but Beijing’s point of view, is highly rational. What the rest of the world is doing, from the rest of the world’s point of view, this is suicide. There’s no point looking for scapegoats. This is national suicide on a scale that no nation in history has contemplated.

HH: Mark Steyn, last question, do…does anyone inside the Beltway stand up and say to you, when you hear them talk, I understand what you just said, is it Paul Ryan, is it anybody, Tom Coburn, communicates to you effectively that they understand this?

MS: Yeah, I think the other day, I saw a couple of freshmen Congressmen who were elected in November, who certainly do understand it, and were specifically elected on a platform to address these issues. But the somnolent party leadership in Washington has basically just climbed back into the Bob Dole suits, and the whole idea is there’s no urgency, there’s no crisis. Okay, the numbers don’t look great for 2030 or 2040, but let’s not rush into anything. And that just ain’t going to cut it.

HH: Are you disappointed Mitch Daniels is not going to run, and John Thune have gotten out?

MS: Well, I think they’re, I think they have seen that actually, the House GOP is perhaps creating the circumstances in which Obama will be able to secure some kind of reelection. And I think a lot of these guys have just figured out that the way things are going, from their point of view, they’d rather wait for 2016. The question is whether America can wait until 2016.

HH: Mark Steyn of www.steynonline.com, thank you, Mark.

End of interview.

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