Andrew Sullivan Schools Maher and Spitzer on Budget, ObamaCare and Paul Ryan

Bill Maher and Eliot Spitzer on Friday's "Real Time" not surprisingly attacked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) for his 2012 budget proposal.

Showing glimpses of the conservative that used to occupy his body many years ago, the Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan not only defended the Republican as deserving a lot of credit for his bold plan, but also exposed Maher and Spitzer as ignorant hypocrites when it comes to the nation's fiscal policy (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):

Maher began by once again presenting his silly budget picture of a plate of mashed potatoes, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese representing Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and defense spending respectively,

The “Real Time” host then claimed that Ryan’s budget proposal isn’t “courageous” because it doesn’t address defense and Social Security.

Spitzer of course agreed saying, “Paul Ryan is not some intellectual hero. He is taking the easy, cheap way out.”

The disgraced former governor continued, “First, he doesn’t balance the budget until 2040.”

The President’s proposal adds almost $10 trillion in debt in the next ten years, and Spitzer is complaining about a plan that will actually balance the budget at some point in the future. Maher not surprisingly agreed saying, “Brave would be attacking the fried chicken.”

Ironically, on Maher’s chart, Medicare and Medicaid are the fried chicken which Ryan’s plan addresses. The mashed potatoes are Social Security which Ryan chose to ignore.

Given what a dunce Maher is, we shouldn’t expect him to know what’s on his own budget chart. But Sullivan did notice this, and wonderfully said, “I’m sorry, Bill, but healthcare costs are the fried chicken.”

He continued, “You may disagree with his proposals, but he is the first Republican really in a very long to say, ‘Look, we’re going to have to do things that are going to hurt you. We’re going to have to tackle these big entitlement programs.’”

Sullivan really drove home the point for Maher and Spitzer saying, “And that’s much more I might add than President Obama has done. He has run away from his own debt commission.”

“Until the President leads,” continued Sullivan, “until the Democrats actually say how they will get rid of this debt, I think Ryan gets credit.”

True to form, Spitzer was unconvinced and later said, “He doesn’t even confront healthcare costs.”

Trying to get back into the game after having just been schooled, Maher interjected, “Wasn’t Obama’s healthcare plan, the idea to attack and solve the healthcare crisis, wasn’t that a braver way to get at our big problem of the debt and the deficit? That’s where all the fiscal problems are.”

Readers are reminded that Maher previously was complaining that Ryan’s proposal didn’t address Social Security. Alas, consistency has never been one of his strong suits.

Regardless, Sullivan didn’t skip a beat responding, “But the healthcare act only introduced, and I think very importantly, cost control pilot measures. These things may not work in the end.”

“Meanwhile,” he continued, “we have a staggering debt.”

Sullivan then made a comment that took both Maher and Spitzer by surprise: “You can’t raise taxes to end the debt. You’ve got to cut spending.”

He then asked the perfect question, “What would you cut, Eliot?”

Spitzer replied, “I would cut defense – I would get out of two wars. And, I would put back in the tax on the rich.”

Maher of course replied, “Right.”

But Sullivan correctly said, “Still won’t do it.”

Maher and Spitzer tried to fight this point with Sullivan, but in so doing, they showed themselves as being totally unknowledgeable about the budget.

Our total defense outlays are currently $750 billion. As reported back in December, the annual cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for folks making over $250,000 a year was roughly $41 billion.

As such, we could eliminate the Bush tax cuts for these people while slashing defense spending to zero and we’d still have over an $800 billion deficit.

But Maher and Spitzer’s hypocrisy didn’t end there, for a bit later in the program as the discussion moved to what is going on in Libya, the two of them defended Obama’s attacks.

As Sullivan pressed Spitzer about how far our foray into other countries’ military problems should go, the former governor made the case that we should always be willing to assist other nations with their humanitarian crises.

Sullivan marvelously noted, “But if you slash defense, you’re not going to have this capacity to go in helping everybody in the world.”


In the end, I'm not sure what got into Sullivan Friday, but for the first time in years, he was actually at different points in this program the voice of reason.

It would be nice if this wasn't just a flash in the pan...but don't count on it.

Budget HBO Real Time Eliot Spitzer Paul Ryan Andrew Sullivan Katty Kay
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