Transcript: Thom's 'Should we bring back the era of big government?' rant, 05 November 2009

Should we bring back the era of big government?

What stands between us and the power of big corporations? There are only two things that stand between you and me and the Enrons of the world, and the United Health Cares of the world, and the, you know, fill in the blank. Even the Ford Pintos of the world: trial lawyers who will sue on our behalf and whip companies into behaving properly because it hurts them financially if they don’t, and big government.

Now, I realize that what I’m saying here, right now, is a variation on declaring myself a liberal five years ago. It’s five years ago, six, maybe seven years ago, when we started this radio show, if you said, “Yes, I’m a liberal” people would go, "what?" Because conventional wisdom had be that that word was so tarnished by the Limbaughs of the world. Well, I’m here to tell you, I want to take back big government as well. Ever since the so-called Reagan revolution, even some Democrats, like Bill Clinton, for example, have joined Republicans in agreeing that big government’s bad.

But the fact of the matter is, that without big governments, at least big enough to take on a transnational corporation, without big governments, we’ve got nothing to protect us from predatory monopolists and transnational corporate rule. And that’s what we have right now. And you go back to the definition that Giovanni Gentile, the guy who ghostwrote Mussolini’s entry in the, as I recall it was in 1934, Encyclopaedia Italiana, where he said fascism is merger of corporate and state interests. Fascism should more rightly be called corporatism. Wasn’t Mussolini who said those things, it was Giovanni Gentile, but he, Mussolini attached his name to them for a while. That is the definition of fascism. And somehow we have to remind Americans of the wisdom of President Teddy Roosevelt, and I’ll share some thoughts from Teddy Roosevelt about that.

But business can be a good thing, business can be a benign influence, business can be a positive influence. But when businesses morph into monopolies. When capitalism becomes the cancer stage of capitalism, it destroys both business and society, and perhaps most important, and frankly my biggest concern with this program, is that it even corrupts democracy. ...

[To board op: We have a video clip of Bill Clinton claiming the era of big government is over? We don't. Oh, it's not ready. OK. Can we get it ready? Oh, OK, great. Soon as it's ready, let me know.]

Cause I want to share this with you. This is just a symptom of how over the top this whole thing is, is that we have Democratic politicians, a Democratic President, saying, “Well, the era of big government is over.” This is Bill Clinton’s State of the Union Address. “The era of big government is over.” Say what? Meaning what? Now the era of big corporations is here? Is that why, when Bill Clinton left the White House, he was broke, and now he’s worth millions?

Here’s the clip of Bill Clinton saying it. "... as we move into the future? And, third, how do we meet these challenges together, as one America? We know big government does not have all the answers. We know there's not a program for every problem." Republicans love that. " We know and we have worked to give the American people a smaller, less bureaucratic government in Washington. And we have to give the American people one that lives within its means." Nothing wrong with balanced budgets, but here comes the, here it comes, here it comes.

The era of big government is over.

There you go, and with that phrase, what Bill Clinton was saying was, “You know, I really was like George Herbert Walker Bush, and if you didn’t want the era, if you didn’t want corporate rule in the United States, you should have voted for Ross Perot.” Who ironically was a billionaire. So the only guy telling the truth in the ’92 election, the only guy telling the truth, was the corporate guy. I mean, just the irony of that should be enough to make our heads explode.

So now, what got me going on this is two things. One, an editorial, an op-ed in today’s “New York Times”. This by Alex Castellanos. Alex Castellanos as I recall, yes, Alex Castellanos is a Republican political strategist, and it’s titled, "Finally, an Authentic G.O.P.", and he says, “DID Republicans win so many of the elections on Tuesday because of their conservative base or because they went beyond it? The answer to both questions is yes.

A, wait a minute. Republicans won so many elections? First of all, in the House of Representatives, the Republicans lost 100% of the races in which they were, you know, at the Federal level, the Republicans lost. Which means Nancy Pelosi has two more votes than she had before, or she has one more vote than she had before, and she has one more progressive than she had before. And the two Governors races, you had Creigh Deeds down in Virginia, a Democrat running on a platform of he's in favor of free trade, he’s against unions, he’s against abortion, he’s against the Employee Free Choice Act, he’s against climate change legislation, he’s against cap and trade. This was a Democrat? Of course he lost. I wouldn’t have voted for him if I lived in Virginia. The Democrats didn’t show up to vote for this guy because he wasn’t a Democrat. It’s got nothing to do with the Republicans.

And Jon Corzine in New Jersey, he made all kinds of big promises over four or six years. I don’t know what the time cycle is on the Governorship of New Jersey, but during the last election, all kinds of big promises about what he would do, and then the state sailed right into the teeth of a recession, and Corzine is another corporate Democrat. This is a guy who made billions on Wall Street. And you expect him to be a progressive and a populist? Sorry. And the people in New Jersey know it. He had a popularity rating of around thirty percent.

So respectfully, Mr. Castellanos and the folks who put together the opinion page, the editorial page of the “New York Times”, you’ve got your head in the wrong place. He says, “Republicans won, fundamentally, because President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Washington have rebranded themselves as the party of economic irresponsibility”. No, the Republicans won in those two races because they ran against Democrats who were not Democrats.

In New Jersey, where the Republican, Chris Christie, won the governorship, 57 percent of voters said the economy and taxes were the top issues.” Yes, I would vote against Jon Corzine or Creigh Deeds, because of the economy, and I think a lot of progressives did.

So what are the Republicans, I said there were two things that set me off on this. The other has got to be the Governors race in California. The Republicans are jockeying for position to run for Governor of California, and it looks like Carly Fiorina is going to be the party’s choice. [correction - she is running for Barbara Boxer's Senate seat - ed.] She was an economic advisor to John McCain. She is the former CEO of Hewlett Packard. And she has this wonderful collection of little quotes here that are worthy of noting.

"Labor unions have battled "offshoring," which Fiorina calls "right- shoring."" Right-shoring? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, over eighteen thousand American jobs went overseas on Carly Fiorina‘s watch when she was running Hewlett Packard. She thinks that’s a good thing for HP to make more money. I’m telling you, we need big government to stop corporations like Hewlett Packard from destroying American jobs.

Transcribed by Gerard Aukstiejus.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Today, we are closing Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom Hartmann is a creative thinker and committed small-d democrat. He has dealt with a wide range of topics throughout his life, and this book provides an excellent cross section. The Thom Hartmann Reader will make people both angry and motivated to act."
Dean Baker, economist and author of Plunder and Blunder, False Profits, and Taking Economics Seriously
From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies."
Paul Hawken, coauthor of Natural Capitalism and author of The Ecology of Commerce
From Screwed:
"Hartmann speaks with the straight talking clarity and brilliance of a modern day Tom Paine as he exposes the intentional and systematic destruction of America’s middle class by an alliance of political con artists and outlines a program to restore it. This is Hartmann at his best. Essential reading for those interested in restoring the institution that made America the envy of the world."
David C. Korten, author of The Great Turning and When Corporations Rule the World