Last night, Campbell Brown invited Rush Limbaugh on her show to debate CNN’s chief business correspondent Ali Velshi, whom Limbaugh called “incompetent,” among other things. First here’s the clip Brown played on her show, before attacking Rush herself.
Limbaugh: 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.
And here’s how Brown responded:
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.
Velshi was on the show, too. He responded, not to the name-calling, but to the substance of this debate…
Brown first used another clip from Limbaugh’s show:
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.
BROWN: And we could actually have this as a debate. But, Ali, appreciate it tonight. Thanks, as always.