By Mark Green
Both Sides Now w/ Huffington & Matalin celebrates its first birthday with the patting-on-backs by Arianna, Mary and the Host as we note our progress from 16 stations in May of 2010 to 110 stations in May of 2011. Contrary to the Washington and media consensus, we find consensus that the jobs agenda is more urgent than the deficit agenda and that there's an apparent outbreak of men abusing the help -- Strauss-Kahn, Schwarzenegger, Ensign. But there's sharp disagreement about the politics of Medicare (for show, click below).
*On the Politics of Medicare. Mary argues that Medicare can't continue on its current trajectory and that the GOP must stick to its guns -- the Ryan plan to replace Medicare payments to doctors with vouchers to insurance companies. But Arianna warns that when a senior asks about his/her third chemo treatment, good luck if all he/she has is a voucher to try to pay for it.
What about the Republican nominee in a solid Republican district looking like she might lose in a special election this Tuesday in Buffalo -- will that be a blow to the Ryan Medicare plan and become a reverse "Scott Brown Moment"? Would Mary really tell a GOP client in a swing district to ignore polls 2-1 against a voucher plan? Yes she would, citing Ross Perot's 19% of the vote in 1992 based solely on his focus on deficits. Arianna explains that such a position might help in a Tea Party-dominated primary but is a loser in a general election.
*On the Missing Jobs-Growth Debate. Arianna criticizes the media -- and secondarily Obama -- for buying into the framework that reducing the deficit is the biggest economic issue, not a jobs crisis, especially among the young; "if people keep reading about shark attacks, they're going to worry about shark attacks." Mary agrees, adding that reducing our debt will help create jobs. But how would reducing spending over a decade actually spur jobs now? Mary says that the structural debt makes "businesses reluctant to hire now." Arianna questions whether deficit hawks really care about the deficit since they oppose tax increases on the wealthy that would reduce the deficit.
Asked what would be anti-growth about Bill Clinton-level tax rates since the economy boomed under him, Mary explains that the economy then and now are different and that she should push for anti-corporate-loophole tax reform rather than higher top-end rates; Arianna doubts that the White House will stand up to those who argue that deficit reductions should come more from spending cuts than tax hikes.
*On Men Misbehavin'. The women agree that men in high office often abuse their power -- "when was the last time that you heard of a female politician accused of sexual assault?", Arianna asks of the X chromosome Host, who declines to answer but instead wonders whether it's fair to accuse Republicans like Gingrich, Schwarzenegger, Ensign, Vitter, Sanford, Hyde, Foley of hypocrisy when they run on "family values" and then fail to abide by them. The women agree that's fair.
Conclusions: first, commentators and voters should judge public performance, not private misbehavior, unless there's hypocrisy or you're publicly indicted; second, Bill Maher is quoted saying that "if you're going to go after the household help, get a 'yes" first.'"
*Quick Takes & Takeaways. "Mature audiences". The GOP vs. Elizabeth Warren; Gay judge; John Kerry returns. The women agree that it's about time TV and radio advertisers pitched their products to those over 55 since, as Arianna observes, "I spend more money than my daughter"; and Mary lauds how markets usually end up chasing after the boomers and how, nonetheless, she still won't buy adult diapers. As for Harvard law professor Elizabeth being formally named to run the new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, Arianna believes that bankers are scared of her and that Obama probably won't nominate her or even make a recess appointment. Mary explains away united Republican opposition as anti-bureaucracy, not anti-Warren.
Should anti-gay marriage opponents challenge a judge's decision against the California Prop 8 decision now that he's come out of the closet? Arianna scoffs, since if sexuality determined decisions, then heterosexuals would be barred too -- and who then would be left? Mary agrees but still frets that by coming out after the decision, Judge Vaughn Walker doesn't "pass the smell test."
And both give three cheers to John Kerry who lost the presidency in 2004 and now is a voice for change around the world as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mary loves redemption and return while Arianna particularly lauds his open-mindedness on possibly more quickly shutting down our Afghanistan involvement because of bin Laden's death. In a week of badly behaving men, Kerry's The Man.
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.
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