For reasons only he and his producers can fathom, NBC’s Meet the Press host, David Gregory, thought it would be edifying to feature a debate about the economy and budget issues between two men who don’t have a clue about how to help the economy and who differ only in degree about how much Congress should pass measures that will hurt growth, put more people out of work, leave more people uninsured, and reduce more people’s wages and retirement incomes.

The so-called “debate” featured the GOP’s ultimate flim-flam con artist, Representative Paul Ryan.  Ryan champions cutting programs to protect the poor and middle class, and non-military government programs in general, while slashing taxes for the rich, effectively transferring trillions from the losing group to the rich winners, and making America’s scandalous inequality even more obscene.  You can only do that and claim to reduce the long-run debt by effectively cancelling most of the federal government’s non-military programs.  Of course, that’s the point.

In a first segment, Ryan claims illogically that unless we extend the Bush Tax Cuts, we face a debt crisis, which would be Obama’s fault.  So, if taxes go up, we have a debt crisis? Huh? But it went right over Gregory’s head.

And to make sure no one draws the obviously logical conclusion about the failure of European austerity, Ryan and fellow deficit hysterics have been insisting that we should follow Europe’s austerity policies, even though it’s now clear we’d wind up with the same predictable failed outcomes of declining growth and higher unemployment that Europe now faces from following Ryan’s prescriptions.  When you hear logic so completely turned up-side-down, it’s time again to head for the sock drawer for things to throw at your tv.

So to have a decent debate with this kind of nonsense, one need only oppose Mr. Ryan with any decent human being, someone who actually cares about the effects of government policies on ordinary Americans and who can follow the news from Europe’s austerity catastrophe and draw logical conclusions.  But instead, Mr. Gregory chose Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, just another representative afflicted with the same hysteria who can’t follow simple logic.  Durbin left the principles of the Democratic Party years ago but neglected to tell anyone, and Gregory apparently doesn’t know the difference.

Durbin chides Ryan for not supporting the Bowles/Simpson proposals, which he fronts as a reasonable compromise approach.  Well, if the choice is between destroying government and only crippling it somewhat, I suppose Bowles-Simpson is a “compromise.”

To review the B-S plan, after misdiagnosing the causes of long-run deficits — private health care costs (not public “entitlements”) — B-S prescribes unhelpful remedies, including significant but unspecified cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (and lots of other stuff) and unspecified revenue increases.  B-S assumes there is a looming debt crisis, but that issue is the one most doubtful.  Rather than fundamentally improve America’s scandalous, deliberately enforced inequality in the allocation of income and wealth, B-S would make it worse.  The B-S proposal consists of essentially long-standing GOP remedies, now no longer fashionable with the GOP, with a predictable drag on the economy, while proposing nothing to alter ongoing looting by America’s financial elites. So the “compromise” is between what the GOP used to believe and what they now claim to believe.  Notice anything missing?

And the winner of this faux debate between dumb/duplicitous and dumber/clueless is . . . America’s financial elites, some part of which will now sponsor this show.  You lose.



John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley