Thom Hartmann on Jude Wanniski, the "Two Santa Claus Theory" and OWS

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For people who missed it, or people who want to see it again ... here's a link to Thom's rant on Jude Wanniski's Two Santa Claus Theory and OWS from 10/21/11.


Laborisgood's picture
And as the GOP complains

And as the GOP complains about Obama's latest budget and it's "lack" of debt reduction, we get real-time footage of the 2-Santa Clause Theory playing itself out.

Phaedrus76's picture
Always ask the conservatards

Always ask the conservatards "how many workers will you lay off to balance the budget?"

Laborisgood's picture
Could this be the end of

Could this be the end of 2-Santa:

Can the GOP openly embrace spending while they don't control the White House and force the Dem President to be the scrooge?

DRC's picture
No they blame Obama for the

No they blame Obama for the debt they ran up.

it would be interesting to

it would be interesting to document the Santa clause theory as it plays itself out and create a webpage with timeline and/or a short video documentary.
I wonder if anyone has done that? Would be such a powerful teaching tool.

Nice. My standard question

Nice. My standard question is, "what media sources do you listen to?" Then tell them which corporation owns it and talk about independent media and how they should at least consider listening to the opposition so you can defeat lefties in arguments.
Now I want to memorize Thom's Santa clause schpeal so i can recite it at will with sources memorized. What's great is it isn't so much a theory as a documented plan with behavior-based evidence.

DRC's picture
If you are opining that Thom

If you are opining that Thom does not have the evidence to back his account of this 2 Santa theory, get ready for a rocky road trying to debate "lefties."  What it does in spades is expose the bs cons have been spewing for a long time, and why they spend like drunken GOPimps and then go apeshit over the debt they have created every time a Democrat comes into office.  Had fiscal conservativism been practiced by Republicans, at least we would have an honest debate.  The only fiscal conservatives have been Progressives who have opposed war and corporate cronyism as well as Wall St.  The Right has nothing in its performance it can defend, so it just goes projectionalist and mongers fear.  Bad Santa!

DRC's picture
This gets tiresome.  This

This gets tiresome.  This statistic shows that Obama put Georgie Boy's hidden war costs onto the actual budget, thereby recognizing Bush's actual debt but giving shills or fools like you a statistic to wave around to fool the unwary and ignorant.  Low blow!

Found evidence of 2 Santa

Found evidence of 2 Santa Clause theory in google's trend data. Try searching for: debt , and restrict your region to the United States and look at the "news reference volume". BIG spike as soon as the 2008 election year starts with continuous growth to present!

Of course this is a broad sample and is influenced by news reports of the falling US dollar, but who owns more than 50% of media outlets? 3 corporations?

Another search for the term "deficit", restricted to the USA region of Washington DC and "news reference media" shows similar trend, stable murmur until 2008 election process increases the level 2x then from 2009 and on another 50%+ increase:

Am I cherry-picking the data here?

DRC wrote: This gets

DRC wrote:

This gets tiresome.  This statistic shows that Obama put Georgie Boy's hidden war costs onto the actual budget, thereby recognizing Bush's actual debt but giving shills or fools like you a statistic to wave around to fool the unwary and ignorant.  Low blow!

Thanks, that was the correlation I was looking for! I'm just grasping for anything at this point. First time I've been called a shill, I guess you are right on that. From wikipedia: "Shill" can also be used pejoratively to describe a critic who appears either all-too-eager to heap glowing praise upon mediocre offerings..."
I tried removing "greek" from the data and it all fell apart:

DRC's picture
Sorry, but honest inquiries

Sorry, but honest inquiries on this point are far rarer than the troll posts.  I never think any question is dumb if you really do not know and want to learn. 

The other point I would make for a true inquirer is that "spending" and "deficit" are red flag words to obscure the difference between investing and waste.  Particularly when you are in a recession where the the private sector is not functioning to "spread the wealth" and "create jobs," the government must invest more, not cut back and go 'austerity.'  Investments are always a good idea because we get a profit out of them.  If we were broke, it would still be a good idea to borrow to invest in stuff that returns more value than the money and the interest.  Plus, the government is what returns "unproductive capital" to the economy when it bloats in the pockets and offshore bank accounts of the rich.  "Our money" is supposed to be the energy for the economic system, and when the rich short out the circuitry, it is the job of the State to correct for them.

This is not an attack on rich people by the envious or jealous, it is a kindness we extend so they can enjoy their wealth without having to be godlike wise people with the morality to recognize what the society and the economy really needs.  They can be lazy about being job creators and reinvestors and just enjoy their country club life.  We even keep their golden gooses fed and healthy so they keep getting the golden eggs.  They tend to think that a Golden Goose Roast is the way to go, but then the economy really crashes and takes them with it.

Being worried about the deficit in a recession is not the first priority.  Poor people will even spend the dole where it helps the economy.  But, we are looking for the broad participation in power in the economy as well as in democracy.  The more people doing quality work and paying taxes on their incomes, etc., the better we all do.  Poverty is very expensive.  When we have high marginal tax rates, we just skim the top of the income and leave the rich with more than enough to be fat and happy.  But, we do have the revenue to fund and run a good society for all. 

That is also how we pay off the debts and deficits without doing great harm to a lot of people.  The only moral argument involved is that sharing and caring works while hoarding and neglect does not.

This topic came up again

This topic came up again during hour 2 of today's show ... always a good view !

Pierpont's picture
I found a reprint of

I found a reprint of Wanniski's article... or at least a 1976 update...

The problem is, I don't see where Wanniski is advocating using irresponsible GOP tax cuts to create massive deficits/debt all to force the Dems into cleaning up their mess once they're back in power. He really seems to believe that tax cuts WILL increase revenues.

What the GOP seems to have been doing since the Reagan era... minus Bush41, is more like a hybrid of Starve The Beast PLUS playing Santa Clause for the GOP's constituency through fiscal irresponsibility. It's as if this Supply Side fantasy that tax cuts for the rich didn't work in bringing in more revenue, but they could amplify Starve The Beast through irresponsible tax cuts as well as irresponsible spending. All these pieces come together in Bush43.


Which raises the obvious question… if what the GOP is doing is not purely "Two Santa" or "Starve The Beast", where did THIS strategy come from? I just feel that Thom is missing something here in blaming/crediting everything on Wanniski. Which brings up the obvious issue that I feel I've gone out on a limb in postings to various forums using Thom's assertions… and now I'm not sure I should have. Has Thom been misrepresenting what Wanniski wrote or does the original article suggest using tax cuts to deliberately create more debt?

"According to Wanniski, the

"According to Wanniski, the theory is simple. In 1976, he wrote that the Two-Santa Claus Theory suggests that 'the Republicans should concentrate on tax-rate reduction. As they succeed in expanding incentives to produce, they will move the economy back to full employment and thereby reduce social pressures for public spending. Just as an increase in Government spending inevitably means taxes must be raised, a cut in tax rates—by expanding the private sector—will diminish the relative size of the public sector.'"

And yet public spending explodes under GOP governance.

I had always interpreted Thom's remarks to mean that "Two Santa Clauses" meant that the GOP would cut taxes AND increase spending.  Apparently that is not what Wanniski meant.

The Wikipedia article does not indicate whether he revisited this 1976 idea to compare it to reality by the time of his death in 2005.

Pierpont's picture
  chilidog wrote:The


chilidog wrote:
The Wikipedia article does not indicate whether he revisited this 1976 idea to compare it to reality by the time of his death in 2005.

There are any number of things that could have happened. Perhaps Wanniski's ideas went nowhere and Reagan was influenced by other nutty Supply Siders who did see it as a back door to Starve The Beast. And when irresponsibly cutting revenues didn't starve the beast fast enough... and seeing that Clinton got us to a point we could pay down debt, they panicked and decided irresponsible tax cuts were not enough... they had to throw in irresponsible spending as well. Bush2 always wanted to privatize Social Security. Yet he ran in 2000 promising to preserve the Surplus to strengthen SS. If he KNEW paying down debt would strengthen SS, then he also knew more debt would WEAKEN SS. It's difficult to see where Bush2 did NOT lie in 2000… and he deliberately created more debt to provide a pretense to propose privatization… and the same strategy is being used now to justify privatizing Medicare.

yeskaa's picture
National ObserverMarch 6,

National ObserverMarch 6, 1976 Taxes and a Two-Santa TheoryBy Jude Wanniski

Thanks to Thom and and the

Thanks to Thom and and the news staff for reminding me that today is the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. I thought this would be a good time to bring out this topic again. This presentation by Thom on The Big Picture did a great job of describing how OWS helped change the news talk from the debt ceiling debacle to talking about the unemployed and other important subjects.

Not only that, with some of the retail stores already stocking Christmas related items on the shelves, its never a bad time to think about the Two Santa Claus theory and what we can do this November to prevent the republicans from fulfilling Wanniski's projection.

Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs ?!"