Colbert Puts on David Stockman to Trash Reaganomics, Bush Tax Cuts

In a sort of continuation of 60 Minutes offering a platform for David Stockman to trash his former Reaganite colleagues, Stephen Colbert interviewed Stockman on Thursday night's Colbert Report. At the show's opening, the graphic was the lame pun “Reag Against the Machine” and Colbert said "I'll ask him what it was like when America had a budget."

Stockman quickly proceeded to trash supply-side economics and suggest most of our Pentagon budget is wasted in an ineffective war on terror. (He didn't repeat his call for a 15 percent national income surtax.) You can see why the liberals now love to put him on television. In this interview, Colbert actually kept up the conservative character in spots, but it was an another offering for Stockman to blame mostly conservatives for the debt problem.

COLBERT: What do you think about extending the Bush tax cuts. You don think we should do that?

STOCKMAN: No, I don't think we should do that, because extending the Bush –

COLBERT: But cutting tax raises revenue. That's the Laffer Curve. I don't know anything about economics, but that's what it's called.

STOCKMAN: It would be better called the laugher curve, like to laugh. Okay? Because –

COLBERT: Okay. I understand. I am hip to the scene.

STOCKMAN: Good. Good. Good.

COLBERT: Why can't we cut? I mean, our Republican, my Republican friends say give the rich their tax cuts and revenue will go up.

STOCKMAN: Well, that is not true. If we give the rich their tax cuts, essentially it's taking uncle sam's credit card, handing it to the top two percent [of] taxpayers in the country and saying, go out and have a good time, buy some more stuff at Tiffany's and maybe have a Caribbean cruise on our card, while you're at it. That doesn't stimulate –

There's the liberal mentality right there. Extending the Bush tax cuts is like sending rich people on a cruise on "our card," as if all money is the government's money or the People's money. More Reagan-bashing followed:

COLBERT: And that stimulates the economy. Those people create jobs. Those are the people who create jobs in America. Correct?

STOCKMAN: No, but the problem is if you believe that, we should borrow $10 trillion, get it over with and drop money out of a helicopter.

COLBERT: But trickle-down economics is what I'm talking about. The Reagan economics was trickle down economics. It's like you're slapping yourself in the face.

STOCKMAN I'm trying to sober up actually. [Applause, laughter]

COLBERTStephen: Okay...please [continue].

STOCKMAN: No, I think what I'm really saying is the country has to sober up. We've had a party like none in history for the last 30 years, households have buried themselves in debt. The government has buried itself in debt. Now we're coming to the day of reckoning, and we're going to have to change our ways. And it's not going to be a lot of fun.

COLBERT: So what are you going to cut? You also have to cut spending. Let's hear it. What are you going to cut?

STOCKMAN: We ought to cut the defense budget. It's 800 billion dollars. [Applause]

COLBERT: Cut the defense budget?

STOCKMAN: Absolutely.

COLBERT: Cut the defense budget?

STOCKMAN: Yes.

COLBERT: Listen to them clap in fear. Why not just hand the keys to al-Qaeda and put Lady Liberty in a burqa and ban bacon. If you show weakness, that's what you do. America's enemies will close in on us.

STOCKMAN: Lookit. We have an $800 billion defense budget and 99 percent of it has nothing to do with the guys in the jihad. The leader of that movement is a tall guy who carries around an iron lung. For ten we haven't been able to find him notwithstanding this massive military machine we have. So the answer is we got to go about this in a totally different way.

COLBERT: Only two things you need too cut. I say cut roads in states I don't go to and Social Security for people I've never met.

STOCKMAN: That would save a lot of money if we could cut roads in all the states that won't permit you to come. That would be most of the country. So we could save a lot of money that way.

COLBERT: Certainly blue states. Now, what do you think of the Simpson-Bowles little study there, that says we're going to raise taxes here and cut spending over there. What do you think of that proposal?

STOCKMAN: Well, it's an earnest pinprick. Their minds are in the right place. They're trying the call attention to the issue, but they do very little about it. Next year, the year after, the year after, thinking that somehow we can get away with continuing to print all this debt and run all this red ink and hope the Chinese keep buying our bonds, and if they don't, hope the federal reserve can keep printing money.

Colbert suggested if the Chinese come for their money, we can just amass our military and say "you and what army?" To illustrate the devalued money we'll hand the Chinese, Stockman pulled out a dollar bill ripped to just Washington's face. Colbert joked the interview would have to end there just so he can distance himself from the crime of defacing government property.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis