03/03/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Campbell Brown Challenges Rush Limbaugh To Economic Stimulus Debate (VIDEO)

Campbell Brown, the anchor of the CNN program "No Bias, No Bull," has challenged conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh to come onto her show and debate the merits of the stimulus package. CNN's chief business correspondent Ali Velshi had criticized Limbaugh's stimulus suggestions, offered on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal, and Limbaugh fired back at Velshi on his radio show yesterday, calling Velshi "incompetent."

Campbell had Velshi on her show last night to address Limbaugh's criticisms in a lengthy rebuttal. She then invited Limbaugh to come and debate the stimulus package with Velshi, instead of just lobbying personal attacks on his radio program. We'll see if Rush accepts the challenge.

Watch the clip of Brown and Velshi below.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: But, first, we are "Cutting Through The

And, last night, on this program, we spent some time talking about Rush Limbaugh and a piece he had in "The Wall Street Journal" arguing there should be more emphasis right now on tax cuts to help the economy.

Our chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, came on and took issue with some of what Limbaugh said.

Rush then responded with this today.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Mr. Velshi, you are incompetent. You are a disservice to your business, except you fit right in at CNN, disinformation, character assaults.
This economy is nowhere near as bad as it was in 1982.


BROWN: So, let's stop there.

Now, Mr. Limbaugh, you may well have a legitimate case to make about tax cuts and what they can do for the economy, but the histrionics and the name-calling, they undermine anything constructive you might have to say.

Rush, I would love for you to come on, on this show and debate Ali on the issues. Make a case for your ideas. Our country is in desperate straits right now, and we need ideas. But what we don't need is nasty rhetoric and useless noise. This doesn't help anyone get a job or keep a job or feed their family.

If there were ever a time to put the meanness behind us and focus on real dialogue and real solutions, this is the time. And, on that note, we invited Ali to respond, not to the name-calling, but to the substance of this debate.

We're putting ourselves to our NO BIAS, NO BULL test tonight. And, Ali, let's see, you know what you are. You're incompetent. No, seriously. I mean, let's deal with the substance of the issues and forget the other stuff he said.


BROWN: And, with that in mind, let me play a little bit more of what -- of the case he made on his radio program.



LIMBAUGH: Now, Mr. Velshi, after calling me a liar -- and I'm not even a business reporter, but you pretend to be -- 1986, GDP down over 6 percent. We were in a recession.

What was the centerpiece of Mr. Reagan's economic recovery plan, Mr. Velshi? Let me spell it for you, T-A-X C-U-T-S.

In fact, Mr. Velshi, you may not have seen anything like this before, but I have. I have seen worse. I lived through worse.

When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, the top marginal tax rate, Mr. Velshi, was 70 percent. When Ronald Reagan left office in 1989, the top marginal tax rate was 28 percent.


BROWN: All right. So, he argues the economy much worse in the early '80s than it is right now.
Does he have a point?

VELSHI: Yes, I mean, I don't want to get into a "My recession is worse than your recession" argument. But, ultimately, I am going to have to interject with a few facts that he might have to think about. We have -- unemployment was higher back then than it is today. It was 10.8 percent. It's 7.2 percent right now.

But 2008, we saw the price of a median single family home drop 15 percent. Never before have we seen that on record. Industrial production, which is the measure of how much we actually make in this country, has never been lower than it is right now.

Personal income, adjusted for inflation, was higher then than it is today. Personal savings -- right after Reagan got elected, people were socking away 12 percent of what they made, today, virtually nothing, which means we don't have anything to get us through a recession.

But put all of the economic talk aside for a second. Ultimately -- we have talked about this many times -- this is an economy that is based on people's willingness to spend money, more than any other economy in the world. People are not willing to spend money.

And just to give you the one indication of this that we always talk about, and it's consumer confidence. Inconveniently, for Mr. Limbaugh, the standard for consumer confidence was set in 1985. So, 1985, whatever consumer confidence was back then is considered 100. Today, it
is at 38. It is the lowest it has ever been.

Until consumers start buying, businesses will not start investing. You can give them all the tax cuts you want; they can't.

Now, he is right about something. Reagan cut taxes from 70 percent to 26 percent. They're 35 percent right now, the top marginal tax rate. So, we don't -- we can't halve them.

Back then, when you took them from that rate over a course of years, down to 26 percent, even if you didn't believe in tax cuts, you would really believe that that would be stimulative.

So, ultimately, there are two schools of thought, cut taxes or stimulate the economy another way. Virtually nobody falls into one entirely camp or the other. I, too, would like to pay lower taxes.

But, ultimately, the facts are the facts. But maybe it was worse for a lot of people. Every recession is hard on -- on some people. But we are in a very dire situation right now.

BROWN: All right, Ali Velshi with that perspective tonight. Certainly, I will reiterate my request for Rush Limbaugh to come on.

VELSHI: Absolutely.

BROWN: And we could actually have this as a debate. But, Ali, appreciate it tonight. Thanks, as always.