CNN's new host Eliot Spitzer slammed the Tea Party movement on Tuesday's Parker-Spitzer: "I think that that piece of the Republican Party is vapid. It has no ideas....They're going to destroy our country." Spitzer also accused Tea Party members of forwarding a "Herbert Hoover vision of government...saying, we want to take away the very pieces of government that created the middle class."
The former New York governor of "Client Number Nine" infamy launched his attack on the nascent political movement minutes into the 8 pm Eastern, as he and his co-host, Kathleen Parker, discussed Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's new ad. After listing what he thought was positive about O'Donnell and her ad, Spitzer gave his "vapid" remark about the Tea Party and made his first mention of former President Hoover:
SPITZER: Now, here's where I completely part company with her [Christine O'Donnell]. I think that the Tea Party- I think that that piece of the Republican Party is vapid. It has no ideas. It will lead us down a dangerous road. Remember Herbert Hoover? Now, we don't remember him- president during the Depression. That's where they're taking us. They're going to destroy our country, but that is an appealing ad.
Moments later, Spitzer further explained his Hoover point, continuing his attack on the movement:
SPITZER: There's also something much deeper going on here, and this is what really does trouble me. We are at a fork in the road. One direction is down towards the path of Hoover, that she [O'Donnell] represents. The other path is of a smart government that believes in markets and competition, but a government that builds the foundation, so we as a nation can compete again overseas, and that's not what she gets...I don't think the Tea Party has created anything meaningful, so we as a nation can build jobs and compete in this era.
The two host then brought on The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel and Reihan Salam of National Review. Unsurprisingly, Vanden Heuvel joined Spitzer in attacking the Tea Party. Parker, to her credit, mounted a defense of the movement, while her co-host returned to his earlier Hoover attack:
VANDEN HEUVEL: ...You have to look at the values these people are espousing- the Tea Party. They want to gut Medicare. They want to end a minimum wage. I think these are the real issues of our time, and not whether she's a witch-
PARKER: I don't think they really want to do all that. I think they want to do some- yeah, they want to do some cutting, and they want to stop some spending, and they want to keep government from expanding-
VANDEN HEUVEL: That is witchcraft that I don't believe in, and that is witchcraft I will never- to my last breath.
PARKER: That is witchcraft? Okay, I am a witch. (laughs)
SPITZER: No- look, I'm with Katrina. I'm with Katrina, because I think the reason they need to, sort of run on the vapid claims about less government equals more freedom, is because, at its root, what they are going back to is a Herbert Hoover vision of government- pre-FDR- saying, we want to take away the very pieces of government that created the middle class.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes-
REIHAN SALAM: Eliot, I have a ton of respect for you, but I have to say-
SPITZER: You can stop right there. (laughs)
SALAM: I will give you a very simple, simple fact. In Western Europe, broadly understood, you have about the same amount of tax revenue generated on a per capita basis as in the United States. But in the United States, we have a much lower tax burden. So, how is it that you're generating same amount of money in both places? And when you're talking about Herbert Hoover and FDR and what have you, the fact is that we live in a very different world now, and this entails different economic strategies.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Reihan, I wish we did live in a different world. But I do believe that the right wing today is still animated by a desire to roll back the New Deal, and those core elements which built a strong middle class in this country, and the architect of the pieces which create a middle class. And I have to say that I see nothing in the Tea Party or the Republicans today except retro, old ideas, which are about deregulating government, which are about cutting taxes for the very rich, and which would put us back in the mess we were in.
In reality, Herbert Hoover was an advocate in government intervention in the areas of incomes and unemployment. UCLA's Lee E. Ohanian pointed this out in his 2009 study of wages from the time of the beginning of the Great Depression, and concluded that Hoover's "propping up [of] wages" and other interventionist policies "accounted for close to two-thirds of the drop in the nation's gross domestic product" between 1929 and 1931. Andrew B Wilson, in a November 4, 2008 column in the Wall Street Journal, also pointed out that under Hoover, "federal spending soared between 1929 and 1932 -- increasing by more than 50%, the biggest increase in federal spending ever recorded during peacetime." These are not positions that the Tea Party movement advocates.
An earlier 2004 study by Ohanian and Howard L. Cole concluded that "New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years." Despite all of this, leftists like Spitzer and vanden Heuvel blindly continue to mouth talking points about conservatives wanting to overturn the supposedly great New Deal and bring the country back to Hoover.