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  Yesterday, I was on CNBC's Closing Bell to debate the absurd notion that public employees are the people to blame for state government budget problems. But, what was most interesting about the debate with CNBC's anchor Maria Bartiromo is how she became speechless--and that ain't no easy feat--when I challenged her about class warfare.

  The quick lead-up was this: the premise of the program was that those big, bad public unions were using their power to direct stimulus to states in order to save union jobs. To which I said "amen":

If I can first address the main point: thank God for the public sector unions. Because if it wasn't for the public sector unions, and the stimulus money coming to states to save jobs, this economy would not just be in a so-called recession, we'd be at the bottom of the abyss. It's actually the stimulus money that has saved part of the economy and kept that sector going while in fact the private sector has declined because there's no credit as you well know in the private sector, and jobs have been lost like crazy.

  You can watch the whole back-and-forth on this point. But, then, I made this observation on state budgets:

There are two reasons states are in trouble in terms of their budget. One is the overall collapse of the economy thanks to Bernie Madoff, Wall Street, AIG, and all your other friends. The second point is this: we do not have a progressive taxation system anymore. In New York state, which Steve and I both live in, if we went back to a more progressive taxation system, and taxed just the top one percent, we would have about eight or nine billion dollars more which would solve the crisis.

  Which sent Bartiromo over the edge (this begins at about 6:48 of the clip):

  BARTIROMO: Look, I can't allow you to fan the flames of class warfare on this program. You said, you said "Wall Street and all your other friends." Who's they?

   TASINI: Class warfare is, does exist in this country. The problem is, the class that's being affected are 95 percent of the population. Are you telling me there isn't class warfare in this country?

  And, then, this:


BARTIROMO: Well, workers are being affected, however, I'm trying to get at the point of why we have these troubled...

   TASINI: We have the biggest gap between rich and poor that we've ever had in probably a hundred years. Productivity in the last 30 years has skyrocketed, and workers have gotten no benefit, that is the definition of class warfare.

  And Bartiromo, you can tell, is caught for a moment trying to figure out how to dispute the truth. So, instead, she asks her other guest from the wacky Manhattan Institute to respond.

  It gets more amusing when Bartiromo throws out the word "socialist" (that's always a show-stopper). But, what I ultimately found interesting--and said so at about 8:57 on the clip--is that neither she or her other guest responded directly to address the FACT that there is class warfare in the country.

  Anyway, you can watch the whole thing here (apologies, but the embed code for CNBC videos does not work here):

UPDATE: thanks for all your comments. It's all of you--and this community and others--that continually help get the message out about what is happening to most of the people. I did want to say that there was another important exchange in the "debate" around health care. Bartiromo and other people in the media regularly try to blame the problems in various industries, particularly, auto, on unionized workers. But, they are incapable of dealing with the facts--ideological opposition for all these years to a single-payer, "Medicare for All" system has saddled business with billions of dollars in costs that are killing the economy. In other words, if you were to follow simply the economics--rather than ideology and the coddling of the insurance industry--you would have to conclude that single-payer is the only sane alternative. This regularly escapes these folks.

UPDATE #2: It's been a crazy day so sorry I haven't responded to more comments. I did scan them, however, and have one comment about tone: Bartiromo can be termed many things--wrong, a corporate mouthpiece, a union-basher and other things. This is an open place and I'm for freedom of speech. BUT, I'd like to suggest that we don't cross the line with terms like "skank", nor make derogatory, or frankly any comments, about her physical appearance. That only cheapens, and detracts, from our main argument.

Originally posted to Tasini on Fri May 15, 2009 at 06:08 AM PDT.

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