Quoting a British politician who claimed "right-wing nutters" pose the most serious threat to the international financial system, MSNBC's Martin Bashir asked his conservative guest on Monday: "He's right, isn't he?"
The MSNBC anchor posed this question at the end of a contentious interview with Tea Party Nation Founder Judson Phillips, after asking Phillips four times whether he wanted the U.S. to default on its debts.
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Concurring with British Business Secretary Vince Cable's assessment that conservative Republicans in Congress, not the $14.3 trillion debt, represent the greatest threat to worldwide financial stability, Bashir contended Cable is a "centrist."
But is Cable a centrist? According to the UK's Daily Mail from September 22, 2010:
The Business Secretary is expected to declare war on fat-cat company directors and hostile takeovers in what has been seen as the most aggressive assault on the excesses of capitalism by a minister since the 1970s.
He will tell his party conference of a wide-ranging Government inquiry into the ‘murky world of corporate behaviour’.
As news of his speech emerged, he insisted his rhetoric was not an ‘outbreak of Marxism’.
Mr Cable will reveal that the inquiry will consider measures to allow shareholders to rein in executive pay, limit the scope for takeovers and end a culture of ‘corporate short-termism’.
‘Capitalism takes no prisoners and kills competition when it can,’ Mr Cable will tell the conference in Liverpool.
His Left-wing rhetoric will alarm many Conservatives and business leaders, who point out that the Coalition is asking the private sector to take the lead in hauling the economy out of recession as the public sector is cut back.
How revealing it is that Bashir calls the politician who many believe is launching "the most aggressive assault on the excesses of capitalism since the 1970s" a centrist.
A transcript of the segment can be found below:
July 25, 2011
3:34 p.m. ET
MARTIN BASHIR: For more on this stalemate, we're joined by Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation, with us from Nashville. Good afternoon, sir.
JUDSON PHILLIPS, Tea Party Nation: Good afternoon, Martin. How are you?
BASHIR: I'm extremely well. Mr. Phillips, do you believe the expert opinion of economists around the world who say if the debt limit isn't raised and soon, it will be catastrophic for the American economy?
PHILLIPS: The debt ceiling, if it's –
BASHIR: Do you believe their view sir?
PHILLIPS: It may or may not be raised, but I'll tell you what I do believe. As you pointed out a minute ago, Greece's economy is in a death spiral and if we keep spending and borrowing money, guess what? America's economy is going to be in a death spiral.
BASHIR: Do you believe. Mr. Phillips, the simply question I'm asking. Do you believe what Mr. Bernanke, Mr. Geithner, Christine Lagarde, who's now the head of the IMF, all say that this would be catastrophic. Do you believe their assessment of what will happen?
PHILLIPS: No, not really.
BASHIR: You don't?
PHILLIPS: You know, every time this comes up, we're told it's going to be the end of the world as we know it. Well, guess what? If we go the way of Greece, it really will be the end of the world as we know it? How about a better idea: let's cut some spending. You know, the Government Accounting Office says their hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud in government spending right now. Let's start by cutting that stuff out.
BASHIR: Are you saying then that we should default?
PHILLIPS: No, I'd prefer not. What I want us to do is cut spending. We also have to remember this. When we're talking about default, when the government cannot borrow any more money, we can prioritize our debt and pay our debt service. And if we pay the debt service, there is no default.
BASHIR: Mr. Phillips, this nation has never defaulted on its debts.
PHILLIPS: Yes, the Constitution says the full faith and credit of the United States and what I'm saying is we can still prioritize our debts, even if we don't have a debt ceiling increase and pay the service on the debt. It's like you running up to your credit limit to your MasterCard and paying your monthly amount. You may be at your credit limit, but you're not in default.
BASHIR: Is it your view then that, almost like an alcoholic, you feel the country needs to default in order to be brought to its knees? Is that your view?
PHILLIPS: Our country needs a serious spending intervention. The government, our congressmen and senators, have got a spending addiction. They need to be detoxed from it. They need to get an education. We are living beyond our means, we are spending too much –
BASHIR: So would an actual default be the detoxification that you think may be necessary?
PHILLIPS: No, I'd prefer our congressmen and senators act like adults and stop spending money that we don't have.
BASHIR: But sir, we're talking about covering things that have already been earmarked as expenditure. We're not talking about the future, we're talking about a default on the basis of debts.
PHILLIPS: Yes, you're talking two things here. Defaulting means you don't pay what is owed, not the entire amount. Remember, there is sufficient revenue coming in in August to pay service on the debt. There's a lot of other things we can't pay, like maybe that hundreds of billions of dollars in government waste. But we can pay the service on the debt. We don't have to default unless Mr. Obama and Mr. Geithner decide, hey, I'm not going to pay that.
BASHIR: Mr. Phillips, a final question. The British government's Business Secretary Vince Cable has said that the biggest threat to the world's financial system comes from "right-wing nutters in the American Congress." Is he right?
PHILLIPS (laughing): You know, I hadn't heard that one but I got to laugh when I hear a left-wing...
BASHIR: He's right, isn't he?
PHILLIPS: ... lunatic in the British government say that. You know, I'll put the American economy, even as bad as it is now, up against the British economy and the American way of life up against the British way of life any day of the week.
BASHIR: Judson Phillips, thank you. And just for your information, Vince Cable is actually a centrist and a member of the Liberal Democrats. But thanks very much for joining us.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.