Liberal commentator Bill Press agreed to be the sacrificial leftist lamb on a CPAC panel Thursday afternoon. He joined commentator Matt Schlapp, Charlie Hurt and Tom Bevan for a discussion that really perked up when it came time to point fingers over the national debt.
It was all so agreeable at first, with Schlapp noting that even as a conservative, he does not “love” big companies such as Amazon getting tax breaks that allow them to reduce their federal tax burden to zero. Then Hurt jumped in to complain about President Trump not being a fiscal hawk (which is true), adding:
“I wish it were. I wish he was going around, I wish he would eliminate seven departments of the federal government tomorrow, and nobody would notice it for about fifteen years.”
He said this as if President Trump did not just shut down the federal goverment for six weeks, stopping paychecks for hundreds of thousands of employees and even more government contractors. The immiseration that followed – federal employees selling their belongings to pay rent, threats of general strikes from airline employees that would have ground the economy to a halt – was so widespread that even fiscally conservative Republicans were begging Trump to back down and re-open the government so people could get paychecks.
Meanwhile, food went uninspected. Trials for promising new drugs were halted and some may never restart. And that is just a small sampling. Hurt is so flip about shutting down all these government departments, when the nation just got a brutal lesson in how all the positive work they do that would disappear if they were permanently closed.
But back to the panel. Hurt threw out the usual applause line about people in Washington, D.C. complaining about deficits and debt when they themselves are responsible for out-of-control spending. This led Press to point out that Donald Trump, whom CPAC audiences have been venerating all day, is responsible for a huge chuck of the nation’s $22 trillion debt. The crowd immediately booed him.
Press’s math might have been a bit off – Trump has added somewhere between $2-3 trillion to the debt, though his tax cuts will add significantly more over the next few years – but his point that conservatives are perfectly fine with all this red ink so long as a Republican is responsible for it, is correct.
The funny part is that Hurt was not arguing with him. And the crowd agreed with the point about out-of-control spending…right up to the moment that Press actually named names about who is at fault, and the first name he came up with was Donald Trump. Tribalism is a helluva drug.
Watch the video at the top of the post, via NBC.