August 23, 2010

Wow, what do you know... for the second time in a row David Gregory decided to hammer one of the Congressional Minority Leaders about the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts. Two weeks ago it was John Boehner. Now Mitch McConnell got his turn to respond to Alan Greenspan's remarks that the Republicans should not be extending them without a way to pay for them. McConnell's response after Gregory hammered on him after he refused to answer the question initially:

SEN. McCONNELL: You're talking about current tax policy. Why did all it of a sudden become something that we, quote "paid for." Look, the problem is the spending problem. If we grind down the spending, we will begin to get a handle on this mounting debt, and if you push this economy further backward, we'll get less revenue for the government, not more. Raising taxes in the middle of a recession on the major job generator in America, small business, is a very, very bad idea.

So much for that deficit they claim they're so concerned about. Not when it comes to tax cuts for the rich. David Gregory should have called him out for his lie about how many small businesses are going to be affected by the tax cuts expiring as well, but hey... it's David Gregory. It's unusual for him to even this aggressive with a Republican when they come his show so my expectations are pretty low when it comes to him getting one of these guys off of their talking points for the day.

He did ask him another good question during this segment as well though. When McConnell said the Republicans would be willing to consider going along with the recommendations from President Obama's deficit commission, Gregory asked him why they needed a Democratic president's commission to figure out what the Republican's think should be cut. McConnell punted on that one and Gregory let it go of course. McConnell claimed he didn't want the matter to become a "political football". Yeah right. Everything is a "political football" with the Republicans.

They do absolutely nothing if that they don't think they can use to gain a political advantage, no matter how bad it is for the country. You could say the same for a lot of them on both sides of the aisle, but the level of just sheer callousness for anything other than remaining in power and protecting their rich campaign donors from the GOP when the country is in this bad of shape is just reprehensible. They're hoping the Democrats do their dirty work for them on Medicare and Social Security so they don't take the political hit for doing what we all know they'd like to do, destroy and privatize both programs.

Transcript below the fold.

MR. GREGORY: Let's move on to some domestic matters. Here was the headline in a Washington Post editorial on Friday with regard to policy issues: "With the tax vote, Republicans fail in their attempt to appear fiscally responsible." You and other Republicans would like to see the Bush-era tax cuts extended. The president, of course, wants to repeal them except for those on the wealthiest Americans; in other words, those taxes would go up. What are you prepared to do to pay for an extension of tax cuts for everybody?

SEN. McCONNELL: This has been tax law in, in America for almost 10 years now, existing tax law. What the administration is proposing, and the majorities in the House and Senate, is to raise taxes on the top 2 brackets, which will affect 50 percent of small business income and in--and impact 25 percent of the work force. For example, if you look at last--the last quarter of last year, 84 percent of the jobs that were lost were lost in small business. I think it is outrageous to suggest that raising taxes in the middle of a recession is a good idea.

MR. GREGORY: Point taken. But, Senator, my question is...

SEN. McCONNELL: If they want to have--if they want to have that debate...

MR. GREGORY: But my question is how do you pay for an extension of tax cuts? Because if you're concerned, as Republicans say they are, about cutting spending and the deficit, you have to acknowledge that tax cuts are not paid for.

SEN. McCONNELL: Well, what, what, what, what are you talking about paid for? This is existing tax policy. It's been in place for 10 years. What they're talking about is raising taxes, impacting 50 percent of small business income in the middle of what most Americans think is a recession. That is not a responsible thing to do in my judgment.

MR. GREGORY: It still--but it's still borrowed money. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, on this program August 1st, said the following. Watch this.

(Videotape, August 1, 2010)

MR. ALAN GREENSPAN: Look, I'm very much in favor of tax cuts, but not with borrowed money. And the problem that we've gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money. And, at the end of the day, that proves disastrous. And my view is I don't think we can play subtle policy here.

MR. GREGORY: You don't agree with Republican leaders who say tax cuts pay for themselves?

MR. GREENSPAN: They do not.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: The CBO, Senator, this week made it very clear that the long-term picture for the economy, for the deficit, is very dark if you extend the Bush-era tax cuts without somehow paying for them.

SEN. McCONNELL: Look, what we're talking about here is, is tax increases in the middle of a recession. We are going to have the third year in a row, under this administration, of an annual deficit of more than a trillion dollars. That is not because we are taxing too little, David, it's because we're spending too much.

MR. GREGORY: But, Senator, with respect...

SEN. McCONNELL: We need to freeze...

MR. GREGORY:'re being unresponsive to a question, which is are tax cuts paid for going forward...


MR. GREGORY: ...or is it borrowed money at a time when you and other Republican leaders say we must get serious about the deficit? It's a straightforward question.

SEN. McCONNELL: I--yeah, I know. And I, and I gave you a straightforward answer. What we're talking about here is raising taxes in the middle of what most Americans think is a recession. That isn't going to produce more revenue. We've, we've got a serious job loss problem in this country. They have primed the pump, they've borrowed money, they've spent money for the last year and a half, unemployment is still almost at 10 percent, and now the job creators, the small businesses in this country they're suggesting they're taxes go up? Look, the president called in a bunch of small businessmen to the White House a few weeks ago, and he asked them why they weren't expanding. And their answer was, "Mr. President, with all due respect, your agenda"--healthcare mandates, tax increased headed their way, more and more burdensome regulation. I mean, look at the new healthcare bill for example. There's a provision in there that requires that small businesses send a 1099 form to the IRS for every vender they do $600 worth of business with. That's just a massive amount of paperwork and problems. This administration...

MR. GREGORY: But, Senator...

SEN. McCONNELL: extraordinarily anti-business, and raising taxes in the middle of a recession is not the way to go.

MR. GREGORY: For a final time, I'll go back to my question, which is the extension of the tax cuts would cost two point--$3.2 trillion. That's borrowed money that adds to the deficit. Do you have a plan to pay for that extension?

SEN. McCONNELL: You're talking about current tax policy. Why did all it of a sudden become something that we, quote "paid for." Look, the problem is the spending problem. If we grind down the spending, we will begin to get a handle on this mounting debt, and if you push this economy further backward, we'll get less revenue for the government, not more. Raising taxes in the middle of a recession on the major job generator in America, small business, is a very, very bad idea.

MR. GREGORY: You talk about spending, and that's very interesting. This is what, what's called "A Roadmap for America's Future: A Plan to Solve America's Long-Term Economic and Fiscal Crisis," written by the conservative congressman, Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin. It lays out some Draconian steps to balance the budget, to cut spending in both Social Security and Medicare. I'm wondering why it is, if Republican leaders are so serious about cutting the deficit and cutting spending, why there aren't more than 13 co-sponsors in the United States Congress for this plan?

SEN. McCONNELL: Well, let me tell you what we are doing right now in the United States Senate. The majority leader, Harry Reid, told me on the floor of the Senate a couple of weeks ago that they're going to come down to the top line that we offered for this year's appropriations bill, which is essentially a freeze over last year. How much money will that save? The difference between that top line in annual spending and what the president asked for over 10 years will be $300 billion, which is not chump change.

Number two, the president has appointed a deficit reduction commission. This is not going to be your typical commission. It's going to issue a report, sit on the shelf, and gather dust. I put three members on it, very responsible members. John Boehner's put three members on it. We expect them to send up a recommendation no later than December of this year to deal with our long-term debt problem, and we do know that we have a serious long-term debt problem--unfunded liabilities related to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I don't think we ought to make what they may be doing a political football between now and November. We'll wait for their report; and I, intend if it's a responsible report that I can support, encourage my members to support it. I think the president will do the same thing. We could, before the end of this calendar year, actually have a significant impact on our long-term debt problem.

MR. GREGORY: Why is it that you need a Democratic president's commission on cutting the deficit to figure out what it is, as Republicans, you think should be cut in federal spending?

SEN. McCONNELL: I don't think that it ought to be a political football between now and November. We've got a bipartisan effort here, a serious bipartisan effort supported by the president, by Leader Boehner and myself. They're going to report later this year. We will treat that report seriously. I hope it is the kind of recommendation that we can support on a bipartisan basis.

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