STEIN: $5.19 a gallon. And I'm very happy to get it. I'm just worried about the day when you can't get it at any price.
GLENN: You know, there was a scuffle out in, I think it was Los Angeles. A guy took a tire iron to somebody who tried to cut in front of him in a gas line in California.
STEIN: I don't doubt it. Gas is life. Gasoline is life.
GLENN: Are there gas lines in California?
STEIN: I haven't seen any gas lines but people are in a pretty bad mood when they get up to the pump, I'll tell you that.
GLENN: Do you think that you know, I keep reading and it makes sense that as the economy just goes further and further into the crapper because of oil that oil is going to start coming back down because nobody can afford it and so supply and demand is going to play a bigger role.
STEIN: Well, demand is falling in the industrialized world, is rising rapidly in the developing world, rising very, very rapidly in the countries that produce oil. But demand is definitely falling in the U.S. Glenn, I've told you before and I will tell you with all due respect I think the price at this point is a bubble for the next few months but the long term trends are terrifying. And the problem again is not having gasoline at any price. That's what we're really scared of.
GLENN: You know, I have to tell you, Ben. First of all, you're a (inaudible). You believe in the future of America's economy is not going to be real grim, right? You haven't changed that, right?
STEIN: I don't think it's going to be grim at all.
GLENN: And so you are a very optimistic guy. Yet when you say things like, you know, I worry about gas at any price, that kind of, you know, perks my ears up because I don't hear things like that from you.
STEIN: I'll tell you why, Glenn. I'm worried about it if the government steps in and screws up everything. If we leave it to the private sector and if we have a combination of private sector allocating by price and government having, as you said and your phrase is exactly right. A moon shot ever to get alternative fuels that work, I think we'll get through it. But if we have government price controls, governments slamming the oil companies, we're in trouble. I was very, very upset to see Obama saying that somehow putting a tax on the oil companies is going to get us more oil. What's that about?
GLENN: Yeah, here is Chris Dodd yesterday on CNBC. Co host Joe Kernen called the Connecticut senator on the idea asking if he was going to apply the same strategy to other types of businesses and that is windfall profits tax. He said, are you going to go across the industries all across the board and decide what congress thinks is a fair amount of profit and drawing lines on what's fair and what's not for corporations? He emphasized the point that's not the way it's done in this country, senator. It could never be done that way, could it? Chris Dodd said, yes, it could be.
STEIN: Well, that's a Bolshevism. I mean, that's pure Bolshevism. That's terrifying. I'm glad you brought it to my attention. It's really, really scary and I don't know what to say if that's going to be the attitude, then I'm no longer optimistic about the U.S. economy.
GLENN: That is the attitude. You know and I know that we have Bolsheviks in Washington. We have people who are full fledged Marxists. If you've got Barack Obama coming in I mean, where is the oh, shoot. Where is the Wall Street Journal today? I had the do you have all the papers? Hang on just a second. There's all this stuff that I pulled out today on Obama's taxes. Listen to this.
STEIN: Oh, his tax policy is terrifying. I mean, terrifying.
GLENN: Listen to this. He says he's going to let President Bush's income tax expire. So that means that the highest tax rate now is going to be almost 40%. He's not going to change the corporate income tax. He wants to give middle class tax breaks. However, to pay for all of that, he also wants to raise the top rate on capital gains tax. Then he wants to take the estate tax up to 45%. Then on top of that he wants anybody who's making over $250,000 a year to start kicking in to Social Security again. Just the Social Security tax will be the largest tax increase on the wealthy of any time in our nation's history.
STEIN: Well, I think that it was larger in World War II but it's a very, very
GLENN: No, no, increase.
STEIN: Yes, the increase. I think even the increase was larger in World War II. It's a very big increase, and his idea that you're wealthy at $250,000 a year is comical. I mean, that's upper and middle class but not by any means wealthy.
GLENN: So what exactly happens if you start taxing the oil companies? And that's what
STEIN: If you start taxing the oil companies, what you are really doing is taxes the pension funds and the individuals who have stock in the oil companies and cutting down on their ability to retire. What you are really doing is saying to the 50% or so of the stock owners of oil companies who are retirees, look, you are not going to get your dividends anymore, you are not going to get your capital gains anymore, and for no if you were. It will not increase oil production. When I saw Obama say we're going to to get more oil production we're going to put a windfall profits tax on the oil companies, I thought, this guy is dumber than Jimmy Carter. I mean, what is he talking about? I like him and I think he's a hard working, intelligent guy but somebody's giving him terribly bad advice.
GLENN: Wait a minute. Hang on just a second. I like Barack Obama. He seems like the kind of guy you could sit down and talked to. You know, I haven't bombed the Pentagon or something. So I don't know if he would talk to me. But he has horrible, horrible judgment.
STEIN: Yes. About economics for sure and about (inaudible) for sure.
GLENN: And about friends. I mean, I don't know, I don't know how this guy could possibly have worse judgment. But what makes you think that what makes you think that this guy doesn't get it? I think this guy is a Marxist. He does get it. There are forces, Ben, at work in Washington. You know it and I know it when he says that he wants to raise capital gains, even though he understands that capital gains, if you raise that tax, it will actually hurt the economy. When he was confronted with that, he said I understand that, but I want to raise them out of basic fairness. So he will hurt the economy knowingly to be able to take the wealth from one group and give it to another. This is a Marxist.
STEIN: I would agree with you as far as that goes but he's a in that sense you're right. But in the sense that he's a typical Chicago politician who takes money from people who get it in kind of questionable ways in order to enhance his career, he can be, let's say talked to, if I may if you get what I mean.
GLENN: I don't know what you mean.
STEIN: Well, I mean, he's not a doctrine Marxist, above all he wants political contributions, he wants people who are going to be his friends and send him checks and if those people happen to be from the organizations that want to lower capital gains tax, he will listen to them.
GLENN: So Ben, here's the common sense solution that I have. You tell me where I'm wrong. I say we should go after the shale, we should
GLENN: We should convert coal to oil.
GLENN: We should be looking for oil off of our shorelines.
STEIN: And I want to give you credit for this because I thought it was Cuba that was slam filling near Florida but it's China.
GLENN: It is.
STEIN: That they're doing it and we can't do it is insanity, literal insanity.
GLENN: Yeah. I've got a lot a mail from people saying, Glenn, you're totally right. Go for the oil off our shores, change it back into oil, go for the shale, build nuclear power plants, go and continue to develop the new line of solar panels which is the nanotechnology that Kurzweil is pumping, go for the solar energy, do it all, cut your taxes on these companies to encourage them to
STEIN: Yeah, that's what they did in Russia and you pointed that out and you were totally right. The Russians are cutting taxes on the oil companies. Why would we be punishing them? There's absolutely zero point on that. Pure vengeance.
GLENN: Ben, tell me how these people in Washington they are all intelligent people, wouldn't you agree
STEIN: No, I would not agree. I would say not educated.
GLENN: You mean in real life?
STEIN: In real life they are not well educated. Look, I worked for Mr. Nixon and I think even his worst enemies would agree he was probably the smartest President of the post war period in terms of pure IQ. Even he didn't understand economics at all.
GLENN: How is it these people in Washington, however you don't have to understand economics. You have to understand supply and demand.
STEIN: They don't understand that.
GLENN: When they are cutting off how?
STEIN: I don't understand how they can't understand but, look, they understand that poor people, at least their friends who are poor people, are angry at rich people and they want to cater to those poor people. They are catering to anger, envy and jealousy.
GLENN: I have to tell you, Ben, I don't know what it's like out in California but I am traveling the road now doing this comedy show and I have to tell you I have sensed real anger and real frustration.
STEIN: Oh, people are very angry. Gasoline is life.
GLENN: So who do you think this is going to affect in the election? Like it really matters, but who do you think this is going to affect?
STEIN: I think whoever can come up with a forcible explanation to say, look, stop kicking the goose that gives us the golden egg, stop kicking the oil companies, let's get more oil and let's get the environmentalists out of the way so we can get more oil, that's who's going to reap the benefit.
GLENN: How come John McCain hasn't said that yet?
STEIN: He is not very smart about economics, either. He is a brave, brave man, Glenn, but he is not a rocket scientist. I mean, he is not the smartest guy in the class.
GLENN: Ben, I'm a self educated guy. I'm not the smartest guy in the
STEIN: Yes, you are. You are incredibly smart and you are very well self educated. But he has been a busy guy doing other things. Anyway, I've got to go because my publicist is hitting me, literally hitting me to make me go. But I'm going to be seeing you later. So I will call. I'll talk to you later. And by the way, I'm having a delicious cinnamon bun as we're talking.
GLENN: I don't think that's necessary to point it out. Thanks a lot, Ben, I appreciate it. We'll talk to you soon. Okay, bye bye.