If anyone thinks that CNN isn't just a version of Fox-lite, you need not look much further than a typical example like this interview with Chris Van Hollen by Candy Crowley this weekend. Crowley continually hammered Van Hollen about why some
July 11, 2011

If anyone thinks that CNN isn't just a version of Fox-lite, you need not look much further than a typical example like this interview with Chris Van Hollen by Candy Crowley this weekend. Crowley continually hammered Van Hollen about why some Democrats haven't given into the Republican hostage taking on the debt ceiling, even though the Republicans have shown no interest in compromising even one inch, and Van Hollen did a pretty good job of debunking the previous talking point by Keven McCarthy that these tax cuts they're demanding are really just for small businesses and not big monied interests like lobbyists and Fortune 100 companies.

I don't know what it's going to take to get the Republicans to move off of protecting their corporate donors and the likes of Grover Norquist demanding purity on tax issues, but if these idiots are stupid enough to bring down our economy over these demands that most of the public sadly might not be paying any attention to until it's too late, I just hope to hell they think it was worth the political price for their game of chicken and that they are the ones who pay it.

Transcript below the fold.

CROWLEY: Joining me now, the top Democrat on House budget committee, Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

So the Speaker of the House says I don't think we can do this deal, let's go back to the Biden talks. You were in the Biden talks, everyone says that's about a little over $2 trillion in savings, let's do that. Is that a done deal?

VAN HOLLEN: Not a done deal at all, Candy. In fact, the vice president has said that we identified about trillion in savings. We're nowhere close to $2.4 trillion. So to go back to that process, I think is -- it's sets in motion all over again.

CROWLEY: How long have you been negotiating for that trillion?

VAN HOLLEN: We've had at least ten sessions. And let me say this, even that trillion was contingent on an overall agreement which meant the Republicans had to agree to some revenue component.

Let me go to the failure of these big talks. Here's the issue, at the end of the day what we're seeing is the priority of our Republican colleagues is not to get a deficit reduction deal, it's to protect special interest tax breaks for big corporations. We had the corporate jet loophole, we have big oil and gas companies, and then we have folks at the very top of the income ladder.

Now I listened to my friend Kevin say they were all small businesses, and as you pointed out, it just isn't true. The joint tax committee has said about 3% of businesses fall in the top category that we're talking about, and those businesses include things -- companies like KKR, Pricewaterhouse, Fortune 100 companies, anyone that files as an S Corporation, so those are good businesses, but these are not mom and pops.

CROWLEY: Let me just in fairness point out, because I looked into this, they are the businesses, those 3 percent that are in there that we're talking about are the ones that create the most jobs, but carry on.

VAN HOLLEN: But what we're talking about here are big businesses. We're talking about any business that files as an S corporation. We're talking about big Washington law firms, we're talking about lobbying firms, and we're talking about things like Pricewaterhouse.

Now good companies, but to say that you're protecting small businesses and mom and pops is just dead wrong, it's counter factual. And I think we should put an end to the myth right now. What they're protecting are big gas companies and corporate jets.

CROWLEY: Their argument is, look, we -- a lot of Republicans say, fine, we think some of these loopholes ought to go but in order to do that we have to have tax reform which we can't get between now and August 2nd. So, if they would agree to that in exchange for some sort of deal that would say we have to have tax reform by date certain, would you go for that?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, we're all for tax reform. We think we should bring down the corporate rate, expand the base. But we think part of that...

CROWLEY: It's part of the price for getting them to agree to do something.

VAN HOLLEN: Sure, but part of that could go to debt reduction. Here's the Republican position, not one penny of closing tax loopholes for special interests can go to deficit reduction, every penny has to go to reducing the rate. Now we saw some hope a little while ago into ethanol rates.

CROWLEY: Do you want to raise taxes? I mean, given, look you know what a lousy jobs report we just got. Do you think it's a good idea to raise taxes on anybody when the jobless rate is 9.2%?

VAN HOLLEN: All the proposals we're talking about would kick in after 2012, number one. Number two, yes, I think it's a good idea to close corporate tax loopholes as part of a deficit reduction plan, because we have got to reduce our deficit to insure long-term economic growth.

We all, I thought, recognize that that's a big, big problem.

CROWLEY: But can you have growth if no jobs are being produced I guess is.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, of course you can't. And we're not proposing that these changes go into effect immediately. We're talking about phased in over a ten-year period, number one. Number two, we all know that during the Clinton administration when you add higher tax rates for the folks at the top, we had a booming economy, 20 million jobs were created, and the rub is this, the most important factor for economic growth are not small changes in the top tax rate. There are many other factors in the economy.

So no, we wouldn't put these changes in place right away. But you have to reduce the deficit. This has got to be part of it.

CROWLEY: What in 2012 the unemployment rate is still high, then would you still want to do it?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I, again, I would close the loopholes for corporate jets sooner rather than later. But in terms of the overall approach, we should also look at the spending side of the equation. In other words, our first principle in all of these talks should be do no harm to the economy. And what's worrisome, is that the Republicans are saying if you don't give us deficit reduction our way, end the Medicare guarantee and slash Medicaid benefits and protect corporate interests, then we're going to allow the United States to...

CROWLEY: Well, that's not in the Biden...

VAN HOLLEN: No, but that's in their budget. You heard Kevin McCarthy said they had an answer to this problem. Their answer...

CROWLEY: But in terms of the debt reduction package, they're not asking for that?

VAN HOLLEN: They have never taken that off the table. Let me be very clear, they've never taken that off the table. That is their position. You just heard it from Kevin again. That is their approach to this program. We've said we're not ending the Medicare guarantee. We are willing to have a balanced approach like the bipartisan commission recommended in terms of framework, not every detail. That has to be the way we go forward.

And it's very disappointing that we may lose this opportunity to do something significant on deficit reduction because of this priority of protecting special interest tax breaks.

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