As a fan of game shows and an avid trivia nerd, I was disappointed that I couldn't attend the Jeopardy tapings this past weekend when the show rolled into D.C. However after reading a Politico article describing Alec Trebek’s ideological inclinations, I’m glad I missed out on hearing him cavorting on politics:
“People [are] relying too much on the government,” the “Jeopardy” star said over the weekend while holding forth with the press during a day of taping in Washington.
“If you want to tax high earners more, it would be nice if you told us where you are spending the money. If you are going to use our extra taxes to reduce the debt, fine. If you are going to use our extra taxes to finance new programs, whoa, let’s slow down a moment,” Trebek added, when asked by POLITICO which political issues concern him most.
“The same word that I am using with my children, a lot of people are using now: a sense of ‘entitlement’ in our society. I think we need to get away from that.”...
“I don’t know who I will vote for. I’m an independent, one of the vast gray mass in the middle. I want to see what’s going on, I want to see what’s happening in the country before I cast my ballot,” Trebek said.
Rather than representing the vast mass of independent voters (a myth already), Trebek’s views hit close to Republican talking points. And that rhetoric completely misses most of the actual proposals Democrats offer. Beyond a few larger initiatives such as the Affordable Care Act, most liberal goals at this moment aren’t predicated on an expansion of the welfare state. Instead they are desperately seeking to maintain the baseline already in place as it comes under assault from a far right wing that dislikes all government action, and a center left more concerned with debt stabilization than helping those in need.
Just look at the two issues the Obama campaign has focused on for the past several weeks. Earlier this month everything centered around the Buffett Rule, in effect one of the tax hikes Trebek fears. The bill would have forced instituted a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for anyone earning over $2 million per year. Republicans in the Senate filibustered the bill, arguing that it would have meant little in terms of deficit reduction.
Now Obama is campaigning this week on student loan debt, pushing Congress to extend a bill that lowers the interest rate on loans issued by the federal government. So far House Republicans have shown little interest in preventing the rate from rising once the College Cost Reduction and Access Act expires in July. A one-year extension would cost $6 billion, only a little more expensive than the amount of money the Buffett Rule would have raised annually. When Democrats have been pushing for an expansion on taxes it hasn’t been to build “new entitlements”; they’re efforts to maintain the status quo as Republicans seek to rip apart the social safety net. Many progressives probably dream of new government programs to help the poor, but for the moment they’re too busy trying to protect what they already have to dream of anything new.