Bob Bennett Warns Against the Tea Party and other “Slogan Screamers”

Last Thursday, former United States Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) spoke about the current political scene in the United State at a university forum at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho.

“Beware of the Slogan Screamers,” said Bennett in thinly veiled reference to the Tea Party.

Bennett said that Democrats are the party of government solutions and Republicans are the party of market solutions. And both sides can be correct.

He praised the Democrats on Civil Rights and shared some touching reflections about his father, the late U.S. Senator Wallace Bennett, and his decision to vote in favor of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

He praised Ronald Reagan, particularly on Reagan dealings with the Soviet Union, but also for his willingness to push back on long held economic views.

Bennett particularly emphasized the need for compromise and the working with people across the aisle.

He spoke warmly of Harry Reid, while dismissively referencing Ted Cruz.

“Keep your powder dry,” said Bennett while urging students not to be too quick to commit to causes before having all the information.

He also emphasized the need to not burn bridges by saying that “the most important vote is the next one.” By letting emotion or hate to get in the way, future opportunities for working together will be undermined.

In the question and answer period, Bennet encouraged students to participate within the two-party system and dismissed third-party efforts within the current system as a pipe dream.

Bennett argued that mandatory spending (social security, government pensions, debt payments) are straining the federal budgets, while the political dialogue focused on discretionary spending.

“On the discretionary spending side, we should be spending more,” Bennett said, because money spent on infrastructure and research boost the economy and these are the areas that are being most limited.

Bennett praised President Barack Obama for expressing a willingness to address entitlements and criticized Republicans for not taking him up on the offer.

Bennett failed in his attempt to serve a fourth term in the United States Senate in 2010. He was defeated by Republican challenger at the 2010 Utah State Republican Convention. One of those challengers, Mike Lee, is now the sitting U.S. Senator from Utah.

The full forum and a portion of the question and answer period can be heard here.

Categories: Politics

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8 replies »

  1. the comparison being bandied about by pundits, that Thad Cochran (R – MS) is “the next Bennett” is clearly ill-fitting, as Bennett is one of the few statesmen out there. Wyden-Bennett was a bold health reform package and a bajillion times more sensible than the great potpourri of offal that is the Affordable Care Act. Wyden-Bennett ultimately was too unpalatable to industry lobbyists/pigdogs because it meant dramatically simplifying health care and abolishing what Wyden calls “the Medicaid caste system.” If I’m an industry pigdog, I want the Medicaid caste system relatively intact, no matter how odious it is getting, because it sequesters the “bad risks” (our brothers and sisters who need the most help) outside the private market, limiting the insurance pool to comparably profitable people. The ACA doesn’t alter this much, since if you’re me (e.g. one of the most disabled) or you’re over 65, you’re barred from the ACA private insurance pools. Anyhow…

    Losing Bob Bennett means a common sense vacuum in the Senate, whereas losing Cochran is like losing Boss Hog. I’m left of pretty much everyone in the Senate, but I would prefer a Mike Lee over Cochran. At least a Lee has an opposition to warmongering and spying I can find points of agreement with.


    • Of course the warmongering and spying were initiated by Bush and the Patriot Act, passed by Republicans. While your criticism of the ACA contains the predictable Limbaugh talking points, it is mighty short on facts or specifics. We could simply do what Canada has done–provide single payer healthcare for everyone and pay less (about 12 percent) compared to the 18 percent of GDP that we pay with huge numbers of uninsured. As a Canadian, I wait with delight for the predictable uninformed shrieks of ‘communism, socialism etc etc’ and decrying the failures of the Canadian system, without a shred of evidence to back it up, much like your two posts here.

      • I have no idea how my attack on the for-profit health care industry and “industry pigdogs” got confused with “Limbaugh talking points” You seem to have completely missed both the letter and the spirit of my criticism here of the ACA, which was that it perpetuates the ghettoization of the poor, the elderly and the disabled into Medicare and Medicaid. People who need the most help get bubkis from the ACA; we watch with growing despair as “the middle class” gets new subsidies on the exchanges (though if they fall out of their current income bracket they’ll be ineligible for the subsidy next year) while Medicaid and Medicare get worse, more underfunded. The sequester cuts are terrible and mostly the fault of an increasingly radical unhinged GOP …but why isn’t the ACA protecting us?


  2. I think many of the Tea Party’s grievances spring from a legitimate place, and do try to be fair. Generally I’m much more sympathetic to the movement than its members of Congress, some of whom (especially in the House) seem to have regressed from comparably responsible businessman-types to incoherent lunatics so rage-inebriated that they’re about one notch above tantrum-ing toddlers scribbling “WHO IS JOHN GALT” in their own feces on the walls of the Capitol rotunda. The current crop of Congress-critters certainly don’t command respect….

    The elites shouldn’t be dismissive of the despair and desperation driving Tea Partier rage, though. Ignoring the economic marginalization hollowing out “flyover country” is going to bite us in the ass big time. Already our clueless liberal class is wondering aloud why the heartland is sending radicals to Congress. Another decade without a program of economic inclusion to ratchet down the desperation in the red states, our feckless pondering on the left could be ‘how come this Mussolini with a Texas drawl just disbanded Congress? ‘

    • What is driving the Tea Party rage can be easily figured out in the hundreds of racist Tea Party demonstrations easily googled which display the racist hatred of Obama…..racism and of course millions of cash from sources like the Koch brothers and Jim Demint’s Heritage Foundation, who would only be too happy for there to be no government to restrict their rapacious greed and despoilment of the environment. The Tea Party is a NeoConfederate racist group that wants the complete destruction of the US government, as demonstrated by their willingness to inflict 24 billion in damage with the shutdown and their willingness to send the US government into default. The ‘clueless liberal class’ is the same party that is trying to make healthcare available to everyone through private insurance (the ACA) and the same Party the got us out of the Great Depression, and who under President Obama has in spite of Republican obstruction brought the economy back from the brink after 8 disastrous years of GWB. But don’t let any facts stand in your way.

      • that the Tea Party is racist and contains terrifying fascist elements is true. Still, I seek to understand our opposition. We ignore the desperation and despair in the rust belt and heartland at our own peril…

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