National Review's Salam Schools Klein, Vanden Heuvel and Zakaria on Tea Party and Taxes

National Review's Reihan Salam on Sunday proved once again that liberal media members no matter what their number are no match for one well-informed conservative.

On CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS, Salam took on the host, Time magazine's Joe Klein, and the Nation's Katrina Vanden Heuvel on a far-ranging discussion about how both sides of the aisle view taxes, the Tea Party, and social change with the conservative ending up looking like the only knowledgeable person in the room (video follows with transcript and commentary):

JOE KLEIN, TIME: You know, one thing I find, I -- and I spend a lot of time out in the middle of the country -- is that people who are the Republican Party base and the heart of the Tea Party, who are white, tending toward elderly and so on, are kind of worried about the fact that this is not the country they grew up in.

You know, you go to a town in Arkansas and you find all the convenience stores are run by South Asians and there are Mexicans all over the place. And people talk to you about their grandson, who has just become gay, and their granddaughter, who is dating a Japanese guy.

And the President of the United States doesn't even have the good sense to be either black or white and his middle name is Hussein. They are scared about this. And the economy, I think, does ramify it.

Typical leftist nonsense from Klein to be followed by typical leftist nonsense from Vanden Heuvel:

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, THE NATION: But this is what I was talking about, the tectonic shifts in this country.

This is a period of change. And one can approach that change with fear, or playing to the electorates, the Tea Party's grievances and resentments, which I do think we see in all of these candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul.

But I do think we're living in a time where government is misunderstood by those who need its benefits. Tax cuts do not revive auto industries. That's why the Republicans are going to lose Michigan --



VANDEN HEUVEL: -- and Ohio --


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: So we've got to -- we've got to --

SALAM: They can.

ZAKARIA: -- we've got to get Reihan in so --

And now for some much-needed sanity:

SALAM: How splendid that we have such consensus around the table, Fareed.

I would argue that tax expenditures are a very big part of the transfer state in this country. If you look at tax expenditures, there's $600 billion, according to one estimate, of tax expenditures a year.

We have a state, a transfer state, that is at least as large as what you see in Northern Europe. And the trouble with our transfer state is that, unlike those that you see in other parts of the world, it skews toward people who are middle income and people who are affluent. That is a genuine problem.

ZAKARIA: Yes, but answer the -- I want you to answer the point that all three have made, which is --

SALAM: Well, Fareed, but I'm trying to say that actually --

ZAKARIA: No, no, no --

SALAM: -- this way of exercising government policy is a way of making the exercise of government policy relatively less visible --

ZAKARIA: I understand.

SALAM: And I think that that's a real problem.

ZAKARIA: But I want to -- I want to hear --

SALAM: So I think that it's not quite --

ZAKARIA: -- I want to hear --

SALAM: -- oh, these people, don't -- they don't realize that they're on the take. Ha, ha, ha.


KLEIN: No, actually, there's a reason they don't realize that.

ZAKARIA: Right. But I want to ask you to...

KLEIN: But I'd love to hear the question.

ZAKARIA: -- to specifically...


ZAKARIA: -- address this issue that you have a lot of fear of social change. I mean there was the point Joe was making, this is the point -- you reviewed the Theda Skocpol book in "Foreign Affairs" --

SALAM: Fareed, in 1970 --

ZAKARIA: So what's wrong with it?

SALAM: -- the United States was 3.8 percent foreign born. Right now, the United States is 11 percent foreign born. And another 12 percent has at least one foreign born parent. I happen to be in that latter category.

Now, when you think about that, in the space of 40 years, you've had that extraordinary change, OK?

Now, when you think about the level of social peace and civic amity that we have in this society, given that extraordinary demographic change, I think that a lot of the nostalgia that you see on both sides, both on the left and the right, think about the nostalgia on the left, the idea that the mid-century economy in the United States is the way that an economy should always be, that model of New Deal social democracy is a way that an economy should be.

It happened in a world where there were no Thai restaurants, Fareed. The country was 3.8 percent foreign born.


SALAM: And when you have those changes, it actually accelerates, intensifies and exacerbates certain kinds of structural differences and inequality.

Fascinating. Take a moment to consider the point Salam made.

The Left and their media minions are constantly saying that conservatives and the Tea Party are stuck in the past pining for a return to the Reagan Era.

Yet what do liberals want? More New Deal types of legislation that will expand government's role in our lives while raising taxes.

As such, which side of the political spectrum at this point of history is truly stuck in the past?

As Salam implied, you could make the case both are which is somewhat logical given that neither is all that thrilled with the present.

But the Right only wants to go back 30 years. The Left still yearns for Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Sound like progress to you?

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Noel Sheppard's picture