Stossel Talks Politics With Huffington

She was on the right, now she's on the left. These days, it seems as though Arianna Huffington is everywhere.

For decades, Huffington has been a political gadfly and a perennial pundit on news shows. Now she's editor in chief of the popular news and opinion Web site The Huffington Post.

Huffington's politics lean left, but that wasn't the case in the mid-'90s when she was a friend to Newt Gingrich and a card-carrying member of the Republican Party.

Now she's written a new book called "Right Is Wrong," in which she argues that the "lunatic fringe" of American conservatives have "hijacked" the country.

CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from Huffington's book.

ABC correspondent John Stossel is counted among that group because he no longer believes government programs are the best way to solve problems. One blogger on Huffington's site writes, "John Stossel is a Pathological Liar," and another asks, "What Has John Stossel Been Smoking?"

Watch "20/20" today at 10 p.m. ET as Stossel and Huffington spar over the presidential election and just how "big" government should be.


Arguing Against Welfare Reform

Huffington believes that millions of Americans need to be pulled out of poverty, and she's sincere about wanting to help. For a decade she's volunteered at an after-school mentoring program in Los Angeles, but she says that government needs to take the reins in aiding the country's poor.

"What we need is serious government policies to address poverty," Huffington said.

In her book, Huffington writes that the problem of poverty cannot be overcome without "the raw power of annual government appropriations." When discussing welfare reform, whose aim is to give jobs to people in poverty rather than giving cash handouts, she argued, "welfare reform in the end was not a success when it came to those most in need in this country."


She cited poor job training as a reason for the failure, however, since welfare was limited, 8 million people have left the welfare rolls. Though there is an economic downturn, the inflation-adjusted income of the poorest Americans is now higher than before the reforms and unemployment is lower. Even so, Huffington joins the Democratic presidential candidates in saying that everything is getting worse.

"We have over 30 million Americans living below the poverty line," she said.

A higher percentage of Americans were living below the poverty line before welfare reform, however, and poverty levels are much lower than they were a half-century ago.

To this Huffington responded, "The fact that we used to live in caves … is not a justification for the state of affairs right now."

Huffington also campaigns against global warming. She drives a Toyota Prius and she co-founded the Detroit Project, an initiative that lobbies automakers to produce more fuel-efficient cars. She also lives in an enormous home and flies in private jets.

Huffington admits that there are contradictions in her crusade, but, she said, "I'm not setting myself up as some paragon who only goes around on a bicycle and lives by candlelight."

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