Eliot Spitzer on Government's Role in the Market - and Weiner

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, former Governor and Attorney General of New York and c-ohost of "In the Arena" on CNN, Eliot Spitzer, discusses his new book, Government's Place in the Market.

Spitzer On Weiner

Gov. Spitzer, who resigned from office as a result of his own sex scandal, said in so many words that Weiner should step down.

It's a personal tragedy. I think he should heed the wisdom of the senior Democratic leadership and permit politics now at this point to move on to other, more critical issues. I think that's a judgment I hope he comes to sometime in the near term.

The case for government

Spitzer says that government has a role in dealing with negative externalities that arise as a result of our economic system, like pollution. He says his argument is capitalist--it's a market-driven argument--for why government needs to do certain things, because if not, cataclysms will result--like they did in 2008.

Look, if government doesn't do this, the market participants themselves will not. Not because they're evil people, it's just because all the incentives are designed to produce different behaviors and outcomes.

At the Republican debate on Monday night in New Hampshire, all the candidates said Dodd-Frank should be repealed. Spitzer said it's an imperfect bill--it did not confront sufficiently the issue of banks being "too big to fail," he said, but repealing Dodd-Frank would be "crazy." He said the law restores the regulatory rules that for 50 to 60 years had lent stability to the banking system--which had been stripped away in the Bush and Clinton era.

Dodd-Frank was a first step at restoring stability and sanity, for them to want to repeal that I really think is such superficial almost 'no-nothingism' in terms of just a cheap pandering to public that is unhappy and understandably unhappy.

Obama isn't tough enough

Spitzer believes that Obama was too light-handed with the banks during the bailout and should have required more reforms on Wall Street.

He almost seemed to be protective of Wall Street--bailing them out and not asking for anything in return. I think he had a meeting with the CEOs of the major banks at the White House and he said to them effectively, 'I, the President, is the only thing standing between you and the pitchforks.' President Roosevelt would have said, 'I'm holding the pitchfork and here's what I need you to do.'

As for what's happening in Albany now, Spitzer says gay marriage is close, but not guaranteed. He's not a fan of Cuomo's proposed property tax cap. He says just look at California to see the long-term negative effects.

What it is popular at first what it does in the long-term is lead to substantial fiscal imbalance and to often, scarcity of funds in area that are critical.

Lastly, will Spitzer run for mayor of New York City? He's happy being a talk show host for now.


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Comments [22]


I have to say that I lost some respect for you Brian--I don't think I have ever heard you sound so impressed with one of your guests-let alone one who doesn't deserve that respect.

I wonder when you listened back to the interview if you didn't notice the same thing?

Jun. 17 2011 04:42 PM

Run for Mayor Spitzer!
CNN show is good but you need to be making policy, not just commenting on it.

Jun. 14 2011 11:48 AM
Ridgewoodian from Ridgewood, NY

Okay, Mr. Spitzer acted stupidly. Fine. But on issues that really matter to any of us not in his immediate family his is still a voice of moral rightousness. My ears pricked up when Brian suggested he might run for mayor. Run, Mr. Spitzer! Run! You'll have my vote.

Jun. 14 2011 10:53 AM

I'd like to personally apologize for stating the obvious regarding some of my fellow commenters.

Jun. 14 2011 10:51 AM

We've removed a few comments. Please remember the WNYC posting policy, which asks you to be civil, refrain from personal attacks, and keep your comments productive to the conversation taking place on air.

Jun. 14 2011 10:47 AM
Amy from Manhattan

And why don't people seem to remember that it was after Reagan cut corporate taxes that we got widespread downsizing & outsourcing? No, tax cuts don't create jobs!

Jun. 14 2011 10:46 AM
Carlos Barbot from Manhattan

What is the Republican rationale behind outright *repealing* of Obama's health care legislation as opposed to simply reworking those parts that need to be "fixed"?

Jun. 14 2011 10:44 AM
Juli from Skillman, NJ

The reason that tax cuts to the wealthy doesn't work in creating jobs is because economies are demand driven. If nobody is buying a company, that company will lay off. If the tax cuts are directed to the less populated wealthy rather than the more populated un-wealthy, demand from consumer power is not created. That is why tax cuts to the wealthy does not create jobs.

Jun. 14 2011 10:44 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Does Mr. Spitzer think the Democrats should make more out of the Republicans' refusal to confirm so many nominees to administration posts & the effect on how much the gov't. can get done? Especially when the Republicans say they haven't gotten anything done?

Jun. 14 2011 10:40 AM
john from office

If not for his wealth he would have been disbared, character and fitness is key.

Jun. 14 2011 10:39 AM

Self-destructive behavior, poor judgement or sexual behavior different from out own does not preclude one's intelligence.

Enough with the puritanical BS!!

Jun. 14 2011 10:39 AM

@john from office

I'm sorry... was Mr. Spitzer convicted of something???

Jun. 14 2011 10:38 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

@ Jerry - Same reason that you as a private citizen of the US can comment on this board: because of First Amend. rights. Thing is, does anyone want to hear?

Spitzer is correct that the terms that the banks received after receiving TARP funds were _FAR too good_ after they nearly (and partially) destroyed both the US and global economy. I still do not understand how both the Bush and especially the Obama administrations could not negotiate for better terms on behalf of the US govt. and US people who bailed them out. Working out the something on the mortgage front was eminently necessary, yet it went unmet. Ludicrous.

Jun. 14 2011 10:35 AM

Geithner/Obama are part of the problem!!!

Clear collusion.


Jun. 14 2011 10:34 AM

Thanks for having Spitzer!

Jun. 14 2011 10:33 AM
john from office

Brian, ask him why he is still admitted to practice law, he should have been disbarred.

Jun. 14 2011 10:33 AM

Eliot Spitzer: I was so so happy when he was elected Governor, and I am SO angry that he threw away everything. His CNN show is terrific, however I am so frustrated by him.

He is a singularly intelligent, articulate voice for so much that I agree with, and there is no substitute for his voice. It makes me so angry that by his actions he threw away the power that we had given him through election.

Just when we needed him, he blew it.

Jun. 14 2011 10:32 AM
NYCarl from LES

Money has too big of a role in politics to expect the president to "hold the pitchfork" to wall street. ...and the republicans are leading the charge for INCREASING the role of money, especially with the unlimited campaign contributions by corporations.

Jun. 14 2011 10:32 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Poor Anthony Weiner ...... the CNN news chair designated for "Arrogant, Loud-mouthed, Self-absorbed Wreckless Sex Addict" has already been nabbed by Spitzer......."the F----ing Steamroller."

Well, there's always room with the clowns at MSNBC.

Jun. 14 2011 10:28 AM

does Spitzer think he quit too soon

Jun. 14 2011 10:28 AM
tony from bayside

Mr. Spitzer does not get enough props for his unvarnished testimony in the documentary "Inside Job." Will Spitzer run in 2016? He should, we need a "....steam-roller in the whitehouse." However I would imagine him getting shutdown much like Dean did in 2004...

Jun. 14 2011 10:24 AM

Eliot Spitzer: the bravest man in these United States.

Please leave CNN and run for President.

Alex Gibney's documentary "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer" is a must-see. If you think you knew the story, you don't kniw the half of what he accomplished as NY's AG.
Also: he gave an excellent presentation at The Commonwealth Club of California in early 2010, wherein he discussed what he calls "the regulatory charade", China, organized crime, his epic battle with AIG, and other topics. I transcribed much of his presentation onto:

I hope he doesn't sue me for transcribing excerpts... Everyone should read it. And the material can be podcasted through iTunes.

Jun. 14 2011 02:26 AM

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