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Bruce Bartlett is a man of strong opinions. A supply-side economist even before the Reagan Revolution, he served in two Republican administrations and then as a policy wonk and gadfly at conservative think tanks. But in recent years he's gotten fed up with Republicans who've turned supply-side economics into a crude and sometimes cynical faith in tax cuts as the solution to whatever ails us. Meanwhile, many conservatives have gotten fed up with him: his highly critical book on George W. Bush got him fired from the conservative think tank he was working at a couple of years ago.

I spoke with him recently about his new book The New American Economy, which among other things suggests that we could learn a thing or two from economist John Maynard Keynes -- yep, the guy who thought government spending was the only way to pull economies out of deep depressions. The interview, which appears in the November issue of Money, has just been posted online.

We were only able to fit a portion of our wide-ranging discussion into the tight confines of the print magazine, so I thought I'd share some more of it here on the blog.

Here's the first of two parts, in which we discuss the Great Depression, Paul Krugman, and the prospects for recovery. In the next blog post: Bartlett on tax cuts, good and bad, and what we need to do to fix Medicare. (Note: It won't be pretty.)

Stay tuned for part two of the interview. And if you want more Bartlett, check out his blog and/or his column on