CNN is already trying to look like Fox-lite on a regular basis and their hire of Dana Loesch just looks like one more step in that direction. I thought their hire of Erick Erickson was bad until they decided that we somehow need to hear on a regular basis the political insights of that know-nothing, astroturf “tea party” leader, Andrew Breitbart buddy and embarrassment to the city of St. Louis, Dana Loesch.
Anderson Cooper had her on as a member of a panel to discuss what sort of fights we might be in for with raising the debt ceiling and the recent agreement made to finally get a budget voted on for last year, and par for the course, she had nothing to add to the discussion other than far-right-wing talking points and apparently a complete lack of understanding about the services Planned Parenthood provides to low-income women who have nowhere else to turn in their areas for health care, and just how dangerous it is playing chicken with defaulting on our debt.
I guess it was too much trouble to ask Loesch what economists she was talking about when she said it would not be harmful to our economy if the debt ceiling were not raised. And I'd love for Loesch and other so-called conservatives to tell me where they were at when George W. Bush was breaking the bank that President Obama inherited, and why this was not a controversy when Republicans just took it for granted that the debt ceiling would be raised with two wars left off the books and a huge giveaway to the drug industry with their Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
I hope to hell the president doesn't give into the Republican hostage-taking, and have read some hopeful news that he's not going to, but we'll see. If his record so far with giving into them wasn't so bad already, I might feel differently, but talk is cheap. I'd prefer to judge someone by their actions rather than what they say they'll do. I like what Matt Yglesias wrote here as a response to the hostage-taking and I hope someone over at the White House reads his blog -- A Debt Ceiling Hostage Rescue Strategy:
As Jon Chait and Josh Marshall write this morning, the way the tax cut deal and the appropriations deal went down makes it clear that the White House needs a better hostage rescue strategy heading into the debt ceiling fight. Fortunately, I think one is available. Read on...
Transcript via CNN:
COOPER: Well, we're talking in depth tonight about the next big showdown between the White House and Republicans in Congress. President Obama expected to lay out his budget-cutting approach on Wednesday this week.
There's a Republican outline already on the table with major spending cuts and changes eliminating Medicare, replacing it with government vouchers to buy private health insurance. But before any of that is decided there is the debt ceiling vote.
Back now with David Gergen, and joining us CNN contributor and Democratic pollster who worked for the Obama campaign and will again in 2012 Cornell Belcher. Also Dana Loesch, CNN contributor, Tea Party organizer, and editor of BigJournalism.com.
So, Cornell, President Obama had hoped for what they call a clean bill on this debt ceiling, a bill without riders that the Republicans would put in. He's not going to get that.
CORNELL BELCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, I don't think he's going to get it. And it's going to be another battle. But again, I think the more sort of the way the Tea Partiers are really dominating the conversation on the Republican side, and sort of their extreme agenda where we see, you know, everything from wanting to do away with the EPA to wanting to do away with health care for women under Planned Parenthood, I mean, all these riders and all these sort of extreme sort of social issues, you know, mingling with the fiscal issues hasn't been a winner. I think the president in this battle actually came out looking like even more like the adult in the room willing to compromise. And I think he will again on the issues of the debt ceiling.
COOPER: But, Dana, you obviously see it very differently. Why have these riders? Why not have a clean up and down vote?
DANA LOESCH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I wish we, I wish we could just all get on the same page and not have and not increase the debt ceiling. But I think when we have to -- when we have to discuss about reducing spending, we have to start cutting somewhere, and I don't know why Planned Parenthood is always used as an excuse because that's not the only outlet that women have, low-income women, to go and get health services.
There's the women's health program that's already in Medicare that's subsidized by the government. So we already have that kind of taken care of. But I do think that it's going to be a huge battle and I don't think that it comes to social issues. I think, bottom line, and this is what the grassroots movement has only ever wanted, is to see some fiscal restraint. I hope that we can get both parties agreeing on this.
COOPER: Do you oppose raising the debt ceiling?
LOESCH: Completely. Absolutely, I do. I look at precedent.
COOPER: Even though economists say, look -- economists would say look, it would be catastrophic, apocalyptic, you say what, that's fear mongering?
LOESCH: Actually, I do. Some economists have said that that -- that it would be apocalyptic. But others have not so much. I look at precedents. We have raised the debt ceiling 74 times since 1962. And in 10 of those incidents occurred in just the last decade.
Now, every single one of those times that we have raised the debt ceiling, we have never taken the initiative to actually reduce our spending. It just is an excuse to keep spending more and more and to continue to add to our deficit. And I don't see how doing it again would be any different.
I'm all -- I'm completely opposed to it, because I think there's a number of ways that we can -- a number of methods that we can employ in order to bail ourselves out and take financial accountability besides that.
BELCHER: Really quickly -- but really quickly, here's the problem. And I'm sorry, David. Really quickly, here's the problem. OK. You've got to deal with $100 billion in either cuts or tax increases if you -- if you don't raise the debt ceiling. This is something -- I mean, this is real here.
So OK, so you're going to cut -- you're going to make $100 billion in cuts in you don't raise the debt ceiling? That's nonsensical.
LOESCH: Well no, I...
COOPER: Well, let David...
GERGEN: If I could just say a word. I just want to come out on the debt ceiling itself. The debt ceiling is what -- under the debt ceiling you borrow money. They have to raise the debt ceiling in order to borrow money. If we run deficits, the government will have to borrow more money. And therefore, you have to raise the debt ceiling.
Under Paul Ryan's plan, this bold proposal -- I disagree with it, but I concede that it's very bold -- under the Paul Ryan plan, the government does not balance its books. It continues to have to borrow money until 2040. Of course we have to raise the debt ceiling.
The question is what Republicans can extract as a deal to raise the debt ceiling. Everybody agrees you've got to raise it. The question is sort of under what conditions? What are the conditions under which we go forward?
GERGEN: Do we, in fact, try to really have dramatic cuts in spending or increases in taxes? Or do we just go on willy-nilly and let the debt pile up. which would be extremely dangerous for the country?
BELCHER: But David, the Tea Party...
LOESCH: I want to make a quick point about Paul Ryan's plan as well.
BELCHER: The Tea Party argue that...
COOPER: I'm sorry. Cornell, then Dana...
BELCHER: Real quick and I'll give you-- I'll give you...
LOESCH: I want to make a quick point about that. I want to point out, please. I want to...
COOPER: You're both talking. No one's going to listen. Dana go and then Cornell. LOESCH: I want to make a quick point about Paul Ryan's plan. I'm actually not in 100 percent agreement of it for some of the reasons that David mentioned. Plus, I think it's a huge gamble, because in order to have a balanced budget in 26 years, all of the variables have to stay exactly the same. The economic variables, everything. And I think it's really, really risky.
But I look at it like this. I think Tim Pawlenty had a really good idea when he was talking about using April and June revenues to pay off America's creditors and then, in the meantime, slash spending.
The only way that we're going to be able to not raise the debt ceiling is to make massive, massive cuts in spending. I completely agree with that. And we're not going to be able to raise revenue by having public sector capital grabs. It has to come from the private sector. That has to come from making permanent tax cuts.
LOESCH: That's how we have to do it.
BELCHER: Well, I just don't think it's practical. If you're talking about sort of the level of cuts that you have to make in order for us not to raise the debt ceiling, you're talking about destroying our economic future. You're talking about taking the economy and putting it into a nose dive again. You cannot cut over $100 billion away from the federal deficit all at one time and not have economic catastrophe. You just can't.
COOPER: David, Cornell was saying he feels that President Obama kind of came out a victor from last week by being above the fray. Do you agree with that?
GERGEN: No. I don't think anybody won that, Anderson. The public CNN poll does approve of what was done. They give a little more credit to the Democrats and to President Obama than they give to president -- than they give to Republicans.
But if you look at President Obama's approval rating, it actually went down slightly in this poll. So I think this came out sort of to be a wash. I think everybody -- I think everybody was -- I didn't meet anybody -- everybody I met was relieved that they reached an agreement. I didn't meet anybody who was really applauding wildly.
COOPER: Dana, who do you think came out ahead, if anybody, from last week?
LOESCH: Oh, man. I know the right is really, really split on the deals that have been made by Boehner, and I'm a little disappointed. I understand that, all in all, there was only -- you could only cut from 260-some-odd billion on the table, and they ended up with give or take like 40-something billion.
But I think, ultimately, the Tea Party came out to be a little victorious because now we have the president and his administration talking about make cuts to entitlement. And that's really, really huge, especially considering where we were in this discussion just a couple of years ago.
COOPER: David, I sort of see you shaking your head.
GERGEN: Well, I'll let Cornell go. I just disagree with some of that. Look, I think Boehner came out as well as the Tea Party, he brought discipline to his party. There was never $240 billion on the table. The most Republicans were asking for. Back during the elections was $100 billion cuts. Then they lowered it to 60, and they got 38 on the 60.
It seems like a pretty good deal for -- you know, if you're a minority party in Washington. But even so, I don't -- I think we ought to move forward, not backward about -- on these deficit questions.
LOESCH: Right. And...
BELCHER: I will...
LOESCH: I'd like to correct one...
BELCHER: I also...
LOESCH: Sorry, go ahead.
COOPER: I was just going to say I'm talking about after you pass three CRs ands then after you took the 850 billion in defense off of the table, in all, in order to -- the piece of the pie, there was 260 something that could have been cut that they chose to cut from. And they ended up with the figure that they did. That was the point.
COOPER: Cornell, I'm going to give you the final thought.
BELCHER: Really quick here, I think I do have to take my hat off to Speaker Boehner because I think he did sort of -- he did have the tiger by the tail here and it was interesting that Michele Bachmann who I think of as sort of the Tea Party leader in Congress walked out on the Republican conference when this deal was cut.
However, I will say that I think the president does come out looking better on this. I mean, the margin between Dems' approval on this deal and the Republicans' approval on this deal is ten points. I think the president and Democrats come out a little bit better in this.
COOPER: Cornell Belcher, Dana Loesch, appreciate it. David Gergen, as well.