Bob Schieffer Calls Boehner Out on Small-Business Tax Lie -- Then Lets Him Punt
On CBS's Face the Nation, the orange-man Boehner came on and did what he's been doing for weeks on end now: lying about the Bush tax cuts, saying their expiration will harm half of all "small business income". And what do you know, Bob Schieffer actually called him out for having some bad numbers. Then, sadly, he let Boehner justify his spin and let him go without pressing him on the matter.
I'll give Schieffer a bit of praise for one thing, though: He did at least press Boehner about whether or not he'd be willing to vote against keeping the tax cuts in place for the lower income brackets under $250,000 or not, and got him to begrudgingly say he would support extending them for those at the lower incomes. We'll see if he keeps his word or not, but he's on record saying he would vote for them. I'm sure he'll find some excuse to weasel out of it later, since he did qualify it with some weasel words like "if there's no other choice".
SCHIEFFER: And joining us now from West Chester, Ohio, House Republican leader John Boehner. Mister Boehner, if the Republicans do take the House, you in all probability will be the new speaker and the President’s already trying to make you the face of the Republican Party. He mentioned you by name eight times the other day, in a speech in your home state. Here’s what he said.
OBAMA: There were no new policies from Mister Boehner. There were no new ideas. There was just the same philosophy that we had already tried during the decades that they were in power, the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place. Cut more taxes for millionaires and cut more rules for corporations.
SCHIEFFER: What about that?
BOEHNER: Well, listen, you know, the President says with that no new ideas. But we’ve offered him new ideas for the last twenty months. And speaking of new, I wonder what’s new about more stimulus spending, more taxes and more uncertainty for American small businesses. That’s what the President is proposing.
And what’s new about that? If the President wants to get serious and wants to do something new why don’t we cut spending and get rid of this notion that we can continue to spend our way back to prosperity.
BOB SCHIEFFER: The-- the big difference, of course, between you and the President is that you want to extend the Bush tax cuts that run out this year to all Americans, including the wealthiest Americans. The President wants to extend them only to those making less than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year. Now the President said yesterday, let’s do what we both can agree on--extend the cuts to those below two hundred and fifty thousand and then we could discuss the others.
Would you be willing to extend the tax cuts to the middle class, to those lower brac-- brackets in exchange for discussing some kind of compromise for those upper brackets?
BOEHNER: Well, Bob, I think raising taxes in a-- in a very weak economy is a really, really bad idea. And most economists would agree with that. And I just think that if we’re going to extend the tax cuts for some Americans, why don’t we extend these tax-- the current tax rates to all Americans, and-- and get rid of some of the uncertainty that is out there so that small businesses can plan and reinvest in a-- in their business and the new economy.
SCHIEFFER: But-- but aren’t you kind of holding the tax cuts for the-- the lower-income people, the people making less than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars hostage, so you can give those tax cuts to the-- to the upper brackets? I mean, there are a lot more people below those top brackets that there-- than are in the-- than those upper brackets. Why wouldn’t you want to do something for those folks?
BOEHNER: I want to do something for all Americans who pay taxes.And you have to understand, Bob, that there are a large majorities of Democrats in the House and Senate. They haven’t reached out to us for the last twenty months. It’s not Republicans standing in the way here.
There’s a growing chorus of Democrats, in both the House and the Senate, who believe that they should extend the current tax rates for all Americans. When you start to look at who’s going to be taxed, about half of all small business income will be taxed under the President’s proposal. These are the very people that we expect to invest in the economy and to begin creating jobs. With-- why-- why would we want to punish them?
SCHIEFFER: Now let me just say this. The-- the Joint Committee on Taxation, which is a-- which is a non-partisan body, says that only three percent of those small business people you keep talking about all the small business people, they’re going to get taxed, only three percent would-- would be affected by that. Do you quarrel with that figure? Is that a right figure or a wrong figure?
BOEHNER: Well, it may be three percent, but it’s half of small business income. Because, obviously, the top three percent have half of the-- the gross income for those companies that we would term small businesses. And this is why you don’t want to-- you don’t want to punish these people at a time when you have a weak economy.
BOEHNER: We need them to reinvest--
SCHIEFFER: Let me just--
BOEHNER: --in their business.
SCHIEFFER: Let me-- let me just wrap this up here. Are-- are you saying that no way, no how would you vote for the-- continuing the tax cuts for the folks in the middle class, unless it also includes the tax cuts for-- for the people in the upper brackets? In other words, you wouldn’t be willing to pass those lower-bracket extensions unless you can get the-- the--
BOEHNER: If the only option--
SCHIEFFER:--the more wealthier people.
BOEHNER: If the only-- if the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I’ll-- I’ll vote for them. But I’ve been making the point now for months that we need to extend all the current rates for all Americans. If we want to get our economy going again and we want to get jobs in America.
SCHIEFFER: So you-- you are saying you would vote for the middle-class tax cuts if that’s all you can get done.
BOEHNER: If that’s what we can get done, but I-- I think that’s bad policy. I don’t think that’s going to help our economy. And I think the other thing that has to happen is that we’ve got to cut spending. If-- if-- if we cut spending, we will help our economy.
We will send signals to the markets. We will send bus-- signals to the business community that Washington’s attempting to get its fiscal house in order. That’s why the two things that I called on the President to do this week was to extend all of the current tax rates and let’s do a spending bill this month, not after the election and not at bloated levels.
Let’s go back to 2008 levels, which are about twenty-two percent below the current rates, and let’s do the spending bill now. And show the American people that we can work together to cut spending and to keep the current tax rates in order.
SCHIEFFER: But I want to make sure I heard what you said correctly. You’re saying that you are willing to vote for those middle-class tax cuts even though the bill will not include extending the tax cuts for the upper bracket American?
BOEHNER: Bob, we don’t know what the bill is going to say, all right? If the only option I have is to vote for those at two hundred and fifty and below, of course, I’m going to do that. But I’m going to do everything I can to fight to make sure that we extend the current tax rates for all Americans.
SCHIEFFER: Okay. But-- but you’re saying that you would do that. And-- and do you think you can get that done before the election?
BOEHNER: I don’t control the agenda on Capitol Hill. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid do. And I would hope that there would be an open debate, an open process. And let’s let the Congress decide what the current tax rates should be and for who they should be. I think there’s a growing chorus on Capitol Hill to extend all of these tax rates. And I would hope that we would do it.