The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

24 September 2007

Alan Greenspan Book, Meet The Press Interview, Talk Radio Response


Libtalkers, Media Distort Alan Greenspan's Positions

After spending the last two weeks adopting former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as one of their own, will liberal talk show hosts and their mainstream media fellow- travellers admit his real positions couldn't be further from their "progressive" agenda?

If there were any lingering doubts about Greenspan's true colors, they should have been put to rest during yesterday's Meet The Press interview with Tim Russert. It's safe to paint Alan red, as in red state red.

Since the release of his book, The Age of Turbulence, the left- wing media has been determined to prove to Americans that Alan shares the views of the / Cindy Sheehan / San Francisco crowd. But the truth is quite different.

Far from a sinister plot by the left, this opportunity fell into their laps quite by accident as the result of a misinterpretation of his book by a British newspaper. On 17 September, Rush Limbaugh explained where they went wrong:

Here's the headline: "Greenspan: Ouster of Hussein Crucial for Oil Security." What Greenspan was saying was not that the war was "for oil." Now, listen to me on this, folks. He never said that the war was "for oil," and it's not in his book in that way.

(It might be in the book that way. Frankly, I haven't seen the book. It might well be close enough to that in the book. This is why I say he may not even know what's in his book based on the fact that some ghostwriter wrote the damn thing.) "Greenspan said in an interview that the removal of Saddam Hussein had been essential to secure world oil supplies, a point he emphasized to the White House in private conversations before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Greenspan, who was the country's top voice on monetary policy at the time that Bush decided to go to war in Iraq, has refrained from extensive public comment on it until now.

He made the striking comment in a new memoir out today that Iraq is largely about oil." They took the "about" in that sentence and changed it to "for." That changes the whole meaning! By the way, folks, what's so bad about that? Even if that were the case, oil is crucial. Oil is like the blood supply of the world, whether you like it or not, and securing the free flow of oil market prices is crucial to growing economies and maintaining growing economies. The idea that there's something immoral about this in the first place is a little plot the left has hatched here to somehow condemn oil as some sort of poison.

Of course, that they have done. But in this interview with Bob Woodward in the Washington Post, he clarified that sentence -- and this is a 531-page book and this is what they took out of it over the weekend. He clarified the sentence. "He said that while securing global oil supplies was not the administration's motive, he had presented the White House with the case for why removing Hussein was important for the global economy. 'I was not saying that's the administration's motive. I'm just saying that if somebody asked me, 'Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?" I would say it was essential.'" Folks, do you realize what a profound difference this is?

Now, in his book he says the Iraq war is largely "about oil." In his interview, he said, yeah, yeah, but it was about securing global oil supply -- and that he advised Bush to do it for that reason and that Bush rejected that as the reason! So what we had over the weekend was a purposeful taking out of context of something in Greenspan's book -- and again, I'm trying to be polite here. I'm not sure that he even knows what's in his book, given he had the ghostwriter, given a number of other things. But they are purposefully using his comment in the book, wrongly. They take it out of context and give it the interpretation that they want to advance their native, their agenda on this. The sad thing is that that's out there now, and that's been out there for two days.

Well, yeah, Saturday night, Sunday, and most of today. It's out there, especially among these dummkopfs and these socialists around the world, not to mention the America left, who get caught up in all these conspiracy theories. One other thing, too. The criticism of Bush, by the way, is sensible! It's about the overspending. It's about not vetoing spending bills. It has nothing to do with anything other than that in the book, anyway.

Not allowing the facts to get in his way, former CNN Crossfire host Bill Press used his liberal talk radio show that same day to declare Greenspan a bona fide "progressive":

(17 September 2007 - 06:13:30) PRESS: He says that the Iraq war was fought over oil – it was all about oil; that's why we went to war in Iraq. It was to secure the number two biggest deposit of oil in the world. That's what it was all about. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates denied that yesterday. But Greenspan says he had conversations with Bush about why they were going to war in Iraq, and they talked all about the oil. Greenspan also said that Republicans deserve to lose in 2006, and he said they did because they lost their way in terms of fiscal policy and fiscal restraint.

Quote: 'The Republicans in Congress lost their way. They swapped principle for power and they ended up with neither.' He particularly singles out Tom Delay and Denny Hastert, saying that they provided no leadership or very bad leadership for Republicans in Congress.

Then Greenspan, he targets and focuses his attention on George W. Bush. And remember when he retired, Bush praised Greenspan to the sky …. But in the book, Greenspan says he was very, very disappointed with Bush. He thought both Bush and Cheney failed at the job. He thought the Bush tax cuts were irresponsible, particularly because of the size of the deficits. He says Cheney was dead wrong in telling people that deficits don't matter because deficits do matter. And he said Bush was a weasel, or a wimp – he doesn't call him that, but I mean he's implying that – for not using his veto power against successive federal spending. So he says they had an opportunity to do the right thing. He was very excited when they got elected, but they totally let him down. What gets me about that is, why didn't Greenspan say something about that at the time?

06:16:05 And maybe the biggest surprise and what may irritate George W. Bush more than anything else is Alan Greenspan says of all the presidents that he saw, the brightest and the best and the one that did the best job of governing America was Bill Clinton.

06:17:00 What do you know? We have a new ally in Alan Greenspan.

On yesterday's Meet The Press, however, Greenspan put most of these distortions to rest for good. Unlike what Press told his listeners, the former Fed chairman initially supported these tax cuts. His subsequent concerns were related to Bush's failure to veto excessive spending. That's a conservative position, Mr Press. Greenspan was worried that excessive budget surpluses would lead to large- scale private asset holdings by the government, a concept he found troubling.

As for his "praise" for Clinton, it's of a damning nature, at least from a leftist perspective: Greenspan loved Bubba's conservative positions on a number of issues, essentially labelling Mr Hillary Clinton a Republican in disguise.

And his criticism of Bush comes from a right- wing position, not the left: he feels Bush and Cheney sold out conservative Republican principles in the name of peace, love and harmony with the Democrats.

From the official NBC transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me pick up on some interviews that you’ve given this week as you’ve been touring, talking about your book, “The Age of Turbulence.” You said this: “I think Bill Clinton was the best Republican president we’ve had in a while.” Republican?

MR. GREENSPAN: I’m sure he doesn’t like that joke, but if you look at his record compared to what I think appropriate policy ought to be, he’s for free trade, he’s for globalization, he was for welfare reform, fiscal restraint and—true enough, he’s not a Republican. I’m sorry, President Clinton, I didn’t mean to say that. But I must say, I had to follow an awful lot of your particular guidelines and found them very compatible with my own.

MR. RUSSERT: He did raise taxes.

MR. GREENSPAN: He did raise taxes, and I must say I could have done without that. But, look, democracies are compromise, and you do what you can so that the majority of the people support you.

MR. RUSSERT: You also said this: “The Bill Clinton administration was a pretty centrist party. But they’re not governing again. The next administration may have the Clinton administration name but the Democratic Party has moved very significantly in the wrong direction.” Hillary Clinton’s party is not Bill Clinton’s party?

MR. GREENSPAN: All I can say is that they’re taking positions which he, as president, veered away from.

MR. RUSSERT: Such as?

MR. GREENSPAN: Whole area of trade, for example, which is a very critical issue because it’s not only the issue of trade, it refers to the globalization and how one views what is the driving force in this world which creates prosperity.

MR. RUSSERT: When the book first came out, The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward wrote the story, a front page story, and this is how he characterized it: “Alan Greenspan, who served as Federal Reserve chairman for 18 years and was the leading Republican economist for the past three decades, levels unusually harsh criticism at President Bush and the Republican Party in his new book, arguing that Bush abandoned the central conservative principle of fiscal restraint.

“He expresses deep disappointment with Bush. ‘My biggest frustration remained the president’s unwillingness to wield his veto against out-of-control spending. Not exercising the veto power became a hallmark of the Bush presidency. To my mind, Bush’s collaborate-don’t-confront approach was a major mistake. The Republicans in Congress lost their way. They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither.’”

Which bill should the president have vetoed?

MR. GREENSPAN: A whole series of them. First of all, let me just say that remember that if failure to veto is a problem, the real problem are the bills that should be vetoed. My major concern was not with the administration, but what I saw was a deteriorating position with respect to policy on the part of the Congress when both Houses were under Republican rule. And it’s that which I found to be extraordinarily debilitating to the outlook. I basically think that the president’s failure to veto to try to collaborate and to try to find ways to get compromises on bills, in retrospect, didn’t work. And I think the consequence is that, effectively, the Republican Party lost its way.

MR. RUSSERT: The issue of tax cuts is front and center in your book and has been the topic of debate in Washington this week. You write candidly that Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat from North Dakota, Robert Rubin, then President Clinton’s economic adviser, came to you and said, “If you testify before the Senate and embrace the Bush tax cut plan, it’s going to open up the floodgates and it’s going to encourage people to give big tax cuts.” And that’s exactly what happened, you say, much to your consternation, that you didn’t specifically endorse the plan. A frequent critic of yours, Paul Krugman, has weighed in on in this, and this is the way he describes it, and I want to give you a chance to talk about it.

“When President Bush first took office, it seemed unlikely that he would succeed in getting his proposed tax cuts enacted.

“Then Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, testified before the Senate Budget Committee. Suddenly, his greatest concern, the ‘emerging key fiscal policy need,’ he told Congress, was to avert the threat that the federal government might actually pay off” “its debt. To avoid this awful outcome, he advocated tax cuts.” “The floodgates were opened.

“And Mr. Greenspan has just published a book in which he castigates the Bush administration for its fiscal irresponsibility. Well, I’m sorry, but that criticism comes six years late and a trillion dollars short.

“If anyone had doubts about Mr. Greenspan’s determination not to inconvenience the Bush administration, those doubts were resolved two years later when the administration proposed another round of tax cuts even though the budget was now deep in deficit. And guess what? The former high priest of fiscal responsibility did not object. And in 2004 he expressed support for making the Bush tax cuts permanent—remember,” those “are the tax cuts he now says he didn’t endorse.”

MR. GREENSPAN: There are so many questions to—that raises, that I’ll try to get them—try to give you short answers. First of all, the notion that I was extraordinarily powerful and my word carried great weight is not in evidence on such issues as Medicare where I, for years, have raised alarms about the size of the problems. My views were wholly disregarded. I could give you a long list of things in which I had strong views, nothing happened. So all of a sudden, I become this powerful force in moving tax policy.

Now, there’s a fascinating problem. The 2001 tax cut was a very unusual tax cut in the sense that it confronted, for the first time in 150 years, the possibility that we would actually eliminate the debt in the United States. And it was that concern which creates major problems with respect to accumulating assets. When you have $500 billion surpluses, when the debt is effectively zero, creates huge holdings of private assets by the federal government, and for reasons I express in the book, I think that’s very bad idea, and I must say, Bill Clinton agreed with me on that issue.

With respect to the question of whether I changed my mind, the answer is I did change my mind. Because, when it became apparent that the huge surpluses that most every analyst in the business was projecting were disappearing, I went back to my old position, which is namely, I am in favor of lower taxes, lower spending, and specifically a cut in taxes which reduces the double taxation dividends. When that occurred, mainly in 2003 and 2004, I said, yes, I would like to see the tax cuts, but they are contingent on meeting what was then the law, namely PAYGO, which was their mechanism in the 1990 act which required that all budget proposals be neutral. And so, effectively, as a number of congressmen asked me in hearings, well, then, “Do we understand you correctly that you would like the tax cut, but unless it is matched by reductions in spending, you would oppose it,” I said, “That is correct. That is my position.” I did change my view. It wasn’t in 2007; it was a lot earlier than that.

As yesterday's interview has made clear, Press and his libtalk buddies couldn't be more off the mark. Only in their dreams has Alan Greenspan joined the Sheehanites. Instead, he's obviously determined to move the Republican Party back to its Reagan-esque roots. Just don't hold your breath waiting for Bill and his gang to admit they're wrong on this one.

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  • Ummmm. Allan Greenspan obviously is not a progressive, he was simply speaking the obvious, a war for oil...a war about oil.
    Limbaugh claims there is a big difference between "for" and "largely about". Not really. He is still saying oil was a motive for the war, amaziginly Limbauh admits it is a WAR for oil!!! Amazing!
    Funny when I was saying that in 2002, Dittoheads were calling me a traitor! Yet today, the pigman admits it was a war about oil. Limbaugh leaves out the part about how the war was sold.... Lies to the American people. Proving once more the radical right are a bunch of filthy liars.
    So "libs" were traitors for pointing out the obvious in 2002, now Limbaugh admits it is true. Amazing!

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 24 September, 2007 20:08  

  • The coverage of the Greenspan coverup (and that of the Federal Reserve Bank in general) has been pathetic and very disingenuous (by design)...

    Considering this operative is the main cause of hundreds and thousands of homeless American families evicted from their defaulted homes, Greenspan and his role in this fiasco certainly merited closer examination (which we can be relatively certain will never happen, for political reasons).

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 25 September, 2007 01:07  

  • and because of Greenspan's actions in the past, authorizing the tax cuts, lowering the value to the American dollar (by slashing interest rates), more than ever the neo-con agenda to sustain this country financially by the Middle East resource grab will remain in effect. They are looking at the oil in the Iraq and iran to sustain us economically. Seems like Greenspan almost set out to make us more dependent on the occupation in Iraq and soon Iran for economic stability. Will a Democrat change this course? At this point I can't answer that.

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 25 September, 2007 11:00  

  • MoPee: "and because of Greenspan's actions in the past, authorizing the tax cuts,..."

    See, right there, you prove yourself a jackass. If the Fed Reserve had the authority your poor, benighted brain things it claims, they'd slash the hell out of the Federal tax code.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 25 September, 2007 14:44  

  • And Alaska would be resplendid with oil rigs.

    Really, MoPee, don't bring a barissta's brain to the game... it's just lame.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 25 September, 2007 14:47  

  • The Federal Reserve is a completely unnecessary private institution and somewhere on Staten Island, someone is filling up the ice cube tray for happy hour, so....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 25 September, 2007 19:41  

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