CNBC's Kudlow allowed Romney and Giuliani to mischaracterize Clinton statements on economy

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

On Kudlow & Co., Larry Kudlow allowed Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani to mischaracterize two statements by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to portray her as being opposed to free markets. In fact, in one instance, Clinton went on to say that "there is no greater force for economic growth than free markets," and in the other, she said that "the market is the driving force behind our prosperity."

In an August 28 interview with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, CNBC host Larry Kudlow failed to challenge Romney's claim that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) statement that the United States should move toward a " 'we're all in it together' society" "doesn't sound as much like Adam Smith as it does like Karl Marx." Romney appeared to be referring to a May 29 speech in which Clinton said: "It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few and for the few, time to reject the idea of an 'on your own' society and to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity. I prefer a 'we're all in it together' society." But contrary to Romney's suggestion that Clinton embraces Marxism, she said during the same speech that "there is no greater force for economic growth than free markets." Similarly, in an August 13 interview, Kudlow did not challenge the false assertion by Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani that Clinton "agreed with the statement, 'The unfettered free market is the most destructive force in modern America.' ... That's got to tell you her ideology, right? She agreed with that statement a few years ago." Giuliani made a similar claim during a May 15 Republican presidential debate. In fact, in a 1996 interview, Clinton agreed with an author's characterization of the "unfettered free market" as "the most radically disruptive force in American life in the last generation" -- not the "most destructive." Moreover, she went on to say that the "market is the driving force behind our prosperity" but that it "cannot be permitted just to run roughshod over people's lives."

On the August 28 edition of CNBC's Kudlow & Co., Romney said that Americans "believe in individual initiative. We believe in incentives. We believe in the Adam Smith theory of how to build a strong economy." Apparently referring to the May 29 speech, Romney went on to assert that Clinton "said it's time to end that and move to an economy based on shared responsibility. She called it 'a "we're all in it together" society.' Well, that doesn't sound as much like Adam Smith as it does like Karl Marx." Romney added: "It's a bit of a joke, but there's truth in it." But Romney did not note -- and Kudlow did not point out -- that Clinton went on to say that "there is no greater force for economic growth than free markets, but markets work best with rules that promote our values, protect our workers, and give all people a chance to succeed." From the speech:

CLINTON: It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few and for the few, time to reject the idea of an "on your own" society and to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity. I prefer a "we're all in it together" society.

Now, there is no greater force for economic growth than free markets, but markets work best with rules that promote our values, protect our workers, and give all people a chance to succeed.

When we get our priorities in order and make the smart investments we need, the markets work well.

Clinton further stated: "I believe that our government can once again work for all Americans. It can promote the great American tradition of opportunity for all and special privileges for none."

This is not the first time that Clinton's May 29 comments have been mischaracterized as Marxist. As Media Matters for America noted, in a May 31 nationally syndicated column headlined "It Takes a Socialist Village," Cal Thomas selectively cited the speech to claim that Clinton "prefers" a "socialist" society where "the only equality is that all are equally poor." Thomas added that Clinton's vision of "a 'we're all in it together' society" is reminiscent of "the old and discredited ... Karl Marx saying: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Similarly, during the May 30 broadcast of KSFO's The Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan Program, co-host Melanie Morgan cropped Clinton's speech to assert that her idea "[s]ounds like communism to me," while colleague Lee Rodgers claimed that the "Hildabeast" agrees with Marx that socialism is "the ideal economic structure for this country."

On August 13, Kudlow also allowed Giuliani to assert that Clinton was "the one who agreed with the statement that 'the unfettered free market is the most destructive force in modern America.' The unfettered free market is the most destructive force in modern America? That's got to tell you her ideology, right? She agreed with that statement a few years ago." In fact, as Media Matters documented, Clinton said in a 1996 C-SPAN interview that she agreed with the following quote: "The unfettered free market has been the most radically disruptive force in American life in the last generation.'" [Emphasis added.] Clinton also stated her belief "that the market is the driving force behind our prosperity ... but that it cannot be permitted just to run roughshod over people's lives as well."

From Clinton's March 3, 1996, interview on C-SPAN's Booknotes:

BRIAN LAMB (host): There's a quote here. I want to ask you if you agree with this. This is from Alan Ehrenhalt, author of The Lost City -- you put it in your book. "The unfettered free market has been the most radically disruptive force in American life in the last generation."

CLINTON: I believe that. That's why I put it in the book. I think if you look at the argument we've had in our political life in the last several years, it's been a false debate. We've pitted the government against everything else. Well, I don't believe the government has had as big an impact as commercial television, as a lot of the decisions made in the marketplace about how we're going to pay and compensate people, about downsizing corporations and making workers more insecure. And I just believe that there's got to be a healthy tension among all of our institutions in society, and that the market is the driving force behind our prosperity, our freedom in so many respects to make our lives our own but that it cannot be permitted just to run roughshod over people's lives as well.

During the May 15 debate, Giuliani also asserted that Clinton "agreed" "that the unfettered free market is the most disastrous thing in modern America." As Media Matters noted, CBSNews.com and Newsday uncritically reported Giuliani's mischaracterization.

From the August 28 edition of CNBC's Kudlow & Co.:

KUDLOW: You know, a couple weeks ago you're campaigning in New Hampshire, I believe Nashua, New Hampshire. A reporter asked you about Senator Clinton's economics. Here's what you said.

ROMNEY [video clip]: It's time to be a shared responsibility, "we're in it together" society. So it's from Adam Smith to Karl Marx. That's not the path America's going to take.

KUDLOW: It's an interesting quote, sir. Would you like to expand on it?

ROMNEY: Well, yeah. It's sort of tongue in cheek, but there's some truth to it. And that is that Hillary Clinton has said that we have always been a, quote, " 'on your own' society." And there's some truth to that. We believe in individual initiative. We believe in incentives. We believe in the Adam Smith theory of how to build a strong economy. And she said it's time to end that and to move to an economy based on shared responsibility. She called it "a 'we're in it all together' society." Well, that doesn't sound as much like Adam Smith as it does like Karl Marx, and that's why I make the comment. It's a bit of a joke, but there's truth in it. And I don't think Hillary Clinton fundamentally understands how the private sector and our economy works.

From the August 13 edition of CNBC's Kudlow & Co.:

KUDLOW: Senator Clinton has said she wants the Bush tax cuts to expire. She also said on CNBC last week -- Dylan Ratigan interviewed her -- she'd like to put $1 billion into state housing funds. There's your sort of direct bailout idea. What do you make of that?

GIULIANI: Well, I make of that, it's very consistent. I mean, she's the one who agreed with the statement that "the unfettered free market is the most destructive force in modern America." The unfettered free market is the most destructive force in modern America? That's got to tell you her ideology, right? She agreed with that statement a few years ago.

KUDLOW: You disagree with that?

GUILIANI: Sure, I do.

KUDLOW: What's your take on the free market?

GIULIANI: The free market is the best thing we have going for us.

KUDLOW: So you haven't changed? We saw you about a month, six weeks ago. You're still a free marketeer?

GIULIANI: I think that that is the best answer to moving people out of poverty. I think Democrats lock people into poverty with the way in which they try to rig results.

Network/Outlet
CNBC
Person
Lawrence Kudlow
Show/Publication
Kudlow & Company
Stories/Interests
Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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