The actor and right-leaning pundit says taxes must be raised to balance the budget, and jokes about worrying for his safety while leaving the studio.
A couple years ago, Ben Stein was dead set against any tax increases, which wasn't a surprise. The right-leaning pundit and actor, best known for his role as the teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, has long been out there expressing the sorts of opinions that get you booked on the Fox News Channel.
The tone is that of a man who isn't ever going to decide he favors tax increases. But guess what? It turns out that Stein was being truthful when he said it may one day make sense to raise taxes.
He favors it now, along with spending cuts, to balance the budget, which is his priority because he thinks prudence demands it.
This used to be known as fiscal conservatism. Stein articulates his reasoning at greater length in this CBS video commentary. Save for exaggerating the degree to which raising taxes on multimillionaires alone can solve our budget problems, his analysis is sound. Basically, he says that our present fiscal course is unsustainable, and that it'll take tax hikes and spending cuts to remedy it. Again, fiscal conservatism ... which isn't so welcome on the Fox News Channel these days:
What I find hilarious about that clip is how attuned Stein is to the gravity of the taboo that he is violating. For endorsing the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan, urging some tax hikes, and noting the dearth of evidence that they would retard economic growth, he jokes they might not let him out of the studio alive! It's the sort of joke that no one would think to make on a news network that valued intellectual honesty more than the vacuous repetition of ideological dogma.