Add Charlie Rose to the list of the Villagers in the media who are just dying to see more austerity for Americans and for President Obama and the Congress to make good on their "grand bargain" that they were thankfully unable to reach an agreement on last summer.
Speaker of the House John Boehner made an appearance on Rose's show on PBS Wednesday evening, part of which was re-aired on CBS the following morning. Rose allowed Boehner to give plenty of revisionist history on who was not willing to cooperate with whom during the failed negotiations last year, quoting Matt Bai's account of the collapse of the agreements which Mother Jones' David Corn debunked here: The Times Gets It Wrong on the Debt Deal.
Rose also allowed Boehner to repeat the zombie Republican lie that the upper one percent pay forty percent of income taxes, which completely distorts that actual tax rates that most Americans pay, since it ignores the percentage everyone else pays out in payroll taxes and state and local taxes. It also ignores the fact that the percentages are that high for the income tax because that one percent also happens to have almost all of the money, so of course they're paying the bulk of the taxes.
Rose also allowed Boehner to play the same game we saw from CNN's Erin Burnett the other day that Cenk Uygur went after her for, dismissing the Buffett rule as a "budget gimmick" that would do nothing meaningful to bring the deficit down, so of course that means it's not worth doing since it won't solve the entire problem.
And Rose let Boehner get away with claiming the Ryan budget will do nothing to harm the poor or our social safety nets, which we know is patently false, without calling him out for it. We're also treated to Rose asking Boehner such important questions such as whether the Speaker and President Obama ever go out and have dinner or a drink together, because we know the most important thing is for all of them to get along, as opposed to how damaging the policies Rose was pushing here are. And what would any interview be if we weren't also treated to the Greece false equivalency. Austerity!!! ... or we're going to wind up being Greece! ... as they discuss the best way to take us there.
Rough transcript below the fold.
ROSE: Many people say you and the Republican Party have to face up to the fact that we're going to need additional revenue and that the President has to face up to the fact that they're going to have to take a serious look and make cuts in entitlements. Why cannot two people, who are friends, come to some understanding on this grand bargain and make it happen because the American people want it to happen?
BOEHNER: I sat for months with the President. He wanted revenue. I said, "Mr. President, I'll put revenue on the table that we can achieve out of fixing our tax code. But the only way I'll do it is if you're willing -- to have real, fundamental reform of our entitlement programs." And the fact is we have an agreement. And then two days later, the president decided he wanted $400 billion in more revenue, which was, in effect, a $400 billion tax increase.
ROSE: So the Speaker of the House was prepared and with his own members was prepared to say we'll give you additional revenue if you'll cut entitlements?
BOEHNER: Absolutely. He knows it. I know it and everybody in the room knows it.
ROSE: And here's what Matt Bai said and you've heard this before. He said, “In the end, while both leaders had profound reservations about a grand bargain that would threaten their parties’ priorities, what’s undeniable, despite all the furious efforts to peddle a different story, is that Obama managed to persuade his closest allies to sign off on what he wanted them to do, and Boehner didn’t, or couldn’t.” Is that simply wrong?
BOEHNER: The President knows that we had an agreement and they can try to peddle the story any way they want. But we had an agreement, until the President decided to violate the agreement and ask for $400 billion in higher taxes.
It wasn't about my members. It wasn't about the votes. I was willing to risk my Speakership to make this happen because I thought it was the right thing for the country and I would go to the table and go at this again because America cannot continue to go down this path of the spiraling debt crisis that's – it's almost like a wet blanket hanging over the economy.
ROSE: Jim Baker, who you know, on my program recently said, “If we don't do something about debt, we'll be Greece.”
BOEHNER: Exactly right. All we have to do is look at what's going on in Europe to understand that we're next unless we deal with our long term fiscal crisis.
ROSE: Will anything happen between now and the election?
BOEHNER: I would hope so. But I'm ... but I am not optimistic. The president checked out last Labor Day. All he's done is campaign full time for the last six months. He's not been engaged in the legislative process at all. There have been no efforts at trying to work with Democrats and Republicans to address this issue at all. And it's, it's shameful.
The President's out there carrying on about this Buffett tax. He's talking about tax increases. We're here working on tax cuts for small business people.
ROSE: So what's going to happen to the Buffett rule?
BOEHNER: It's a gimmick. Even the President admits it's a gimmick. But here we've got big challenges facing America and the President's talking about these little budget gimmicks.
ROSE: Is fairness an issue for you though in terms of the taxation and ...?
BOEHNER: The top 1 percent pay almost forty percent of the income taxes to our government. This gimmick would amount to almost five, not even $5 billion a year. It won't amount to anything. Why not deal with the big crisis that's facing us, a $16 trillion national debt? A $1.3 trillion budget deficit this year alone. This path is unsustainable.
ROSE: What happens in January 2013?
BOEHNER: Well, House Republicans will move to extend the current tax rates for at least another year. We'll deal with replacing the sequester that's to go into affect in January. We'll move our appropriation bills. I'm not sure what will happen in the Senate. But it's also pretty clear that sometime late this year or early next year we're going to have to deal with increasing the debt limit again.
We have major issues facing our country and the President's running around the country campaigning, talking about a budget gimmick.
ROSE: How do you see Simpson-Bowles as a way out?
BOEHNER: The Simpson-Bowles commission that the President set up ...
BOEHNER: ... bipartisan, was basically the menu that the President and I worked on for months, the same menu that the Super Committee worked off of. We know what the options are in terms of how we address our entitlement crisis.
ROSE: Meaning you know what the bargain ought to be?
BOEHNER: We know what the menu looks like. All we have to do is to have real leadership and real courage.
ROSE: You know, it's often said that when Ronald Reagan was President and Tip O'Neill was Speaker, sitting in your office that they could get together, that at the end of the day that they could have a drink or have dinner. Do you have dinner with the President?
BOEHNER: No, we don't have dinner, but we've had drinks before. We've had lots of ...
ROSE: So it's not a problem of relationships?
BOEHNER: No, I've got ... the President and I understand each other pretty well.
ROSE: And how do you understand him?
BOEHNER: Well, I'm the most open person in the world and so what you see is what you get. I'm pretty easy to get along with.
ROSE: And him?
BOEHNER: And the President, we get along fine. It's just that we disagree. But even though we disagree on some major issues, the American people expect us to find enough common ground to move the ball down the field, to address America's challenges. And I told the President, any time that I think that there's an idea, whether it's his idea or my idea, that would be good for our country, I'd be there to support it.
ROSE: The Catholic bishops today said that the Ryan budget fails to meet moral criteria, disproportionately cuts programs that serve the poor and the vulnerable, which it sounds like the President ...
BOEHNER: I understand. Listen, when you look at the budget choices that we have to make, it's time that Congress and Washington and the President quit kicking the can down the road and address our challenges. I don't believe that our budget will hurt the poor in any way. I don't think it will hurt the safety nets in any way, but we can't continue to spend money that we do not have.
ROSE: But this is in conflict with the bishops, which also attacked the President because of some of the things that he wanted to do earlier and created a firestorm about what he intended to recommend about.
BOEHNER: I understand that.