I had been interviewed for this Frontline documentary months ago (by Forrest Sawyer no less–it was a thrill!), but a change in producers has deprived me of my 15 seconds of fame…alas. Still, I kept in touch with the production crew while they continued working on it, I’m glad they completed the project, and I’ll be watching this evening, for sure (and will be DVR-ing it).
From a NYTimes review of it (I’m happy to see some of my friends who did make the program):
The makers of “Ten Trillion and Counting,” Tuesday’s “Frontline” on PBS, want to make really, really, really sure that you know that George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, put the country in the economic mess it’s in now. More than half the program is devoted to cataloging the Bush administration’s economic policies, which, as portrayed here, come across as appallingly reckless, a burden that will grind us down for generations to come.
Though it may be accurate, it’s an emphasis that is unfortunate for two reasons. One is that it leaves the smart-sounding commentators assembled here not much time to talk about what matters now: how we get out of the mire. The other is that it could cause anyone who still has any regard for Mr. Bush to tune out the program as just another exercise in Bush-bashing. This is a program everyone needs to watch if the search for solutions is ever going to get beyond the simplistic, accusatory catchphrases that sometimes seem to pass for economic-policy debate in Washington…
There is a succinct history lesson on how the Republican “starve the beast” economic philosophy — if you keep taxes low, government spending will automatically be kept low for lack of money — ran off the rails. And then, the program says, Mr. Bush took things a step further by cutting taxes while starting a war.
“We borrowed money from China to give tax cuts to the best-off people in our society and leave our kids paying the bill for a war that we chose to fight,” says Matt Miller, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning research group. “That was really unprecedented.”..
Now it is Mr. Obama who will have to make the case for sacrifice, though the Iraq war is winding down, and the one in Afghanistan is somewhat murky in the public mind. Good luck.
“It’s hard to sell a message of pain to Americans,” says David Wessel of The Wall Street Journal. “It’s hard to tell them that we have lived beyond our means and we’re going to have to spend less money on benefits that you enjoy, and we’re going to have to collect more taxes from you than we do now because we overpromised in the past. That’s a very hard message to deliver when unemployment is low and everybody’s feeling good. It’s an impossible message to deliver when people are frightened that they’re going to lose their houses, lose their jobs and their kids are going to be out of work.”…
So I hope you’ll tune in tonight (or “hit record”), as I will!