CBS Lists Excess Spending Which Prompted GOP Opposition

Two nights after the CBS Evening News commiserated with President Obama over his unrewarded efforts to win Republican House votes for the “stimulus” plan as Chip Reid chafed over how “Republicans relentlessly attacked the bill despite the President's extraordinary efforts to get bipartisan support,” Friday's newscast provided the first broadcast network rundown of the ineffective spending provisions to which GOP Congressmen objected. Fill-in anchor Harry Smith noted: “The Republicans' biggest complaint about the stimulus bill is it just gives Democrats an excuse to make government bigger. Wyatt Andrews says the examples are not hard to find.”

Reporter Wyatt Andrews began: “If you are one of those taxpayers who does not want to spend $25 million to repair ATV trails, or $150 million for agricultural losses like damaged beehives, then you'll understand why no Republican supported the stimulus in the House and why most Republicans are trashing it in the Senate.” Andrews related how “Congressman Eric Cantor says around one-fourth of the stimulus spending will never go away,” such as “$15 billion for Pell grants.” Andrews pointed out “anything that Congress couldn't afford before -- $50 million to support the arts, or $70 million to help people stop smoking -- has found its way into the stimulus now.”

Meanwhile on Friday night, NBC continued to pass along Obama talking points as Brian Williams teased, “The President's message today was to the American middle class: Help is on the way.”

My January 29 NewsBusters item, “ABC & CBS Chide Republicans for 'Turning Cold Shoulder' to Obama,” recounted:
Shortly after the House on Wednesday passed President Barack Obama's $825 billion "stimulus" package, ABC and CBS commiserated with Obama over his unsuccessful efforts to woo Republican votes. "Not one Republican voted for it," ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced on World News with "Rescue Plan" as the on-screen heading, "turning a cold shoulder to the President's appeal for bipartisan support." Reporter Jonathan Karl fretted: "So much for the President's charm offensive. Today it was all partisan rancor and name-calling."

CBS reporter Chip Reid related how "the White House says this is a victory for the President, but certainly there is also some disappointment that he worked so hard to get bipartisan support and couldn't get a single Republican vote." Reid soon chafed over how "Republicans relentlessly attacked the bill despite the President's extraordinary efforts to get bipartisan support." Katie Couric noted how "the President went up to the Hill to personally appeal to Republicans already," so, she pleaded, "what more can he do?"
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video tp produce this transcript of the story on the Friday, January 30 CBS Evening News:
HARRY SMITH: The Republicans’ biggest complaint about the stimulus bill is it just gives Democrats an excuse to make government bigger. Wyatt Andrews says the examples are not hard to find.

WYATT ANDREWS: If you are one of those taxpayers who does not want to spend $25 million to repair ATV trails, or $150 million for agricultural losses like damaged beehives, then you’ll understand why no Republican supported the stimulus in the House-

JOHN BOEHNER, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Now, this looks like a slush fund to me because-
                
ANDREWS: -and why most Republicans are trashing it in the Senate.

SENATOR TOM COBURN (R-OK): This is about spending money we don’t have for things we don’t need.            

ANDREWS: Despite the President’s lobbying for bipartisan support, Republicans complain their ideas are being ignored-

SENATOR PAT ROBERTS (R-KS): -that we have been shut out.

ANDREWS: -and that the bill is too much goody bag and not enough stimulus – $650 million to help people switch their old TVs to digital, and $335 million to prevent sexually transmitted disease, a program that Democrats defend because disease education creates jobs, too.

NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And we have jobs across the board, not just for construction workers.

ANDREWS: But the Republicans’ biggest concern is that the supposedly temporary stimulus creates some $200 billion worth of permanent spending. This is your “won’t go away” list?

ERIC CANTOR, HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: Yeah, this is-

ANDREWS: Congressman Eric Cantor says around one-fourth of the stimulus spending will never go away -- $15 billion for Pell Grants to help students afford college, or $13 billion for special education. Maybe it’s all worthwhile, Cantor says, it’s just not temporary. How much of that do you see being rolled back two years from now?

ERIC CANTOR, HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: Well, that’s the problem. Every time any program starts in Washington, very, very difficult to stop it.

ANDREWS: And remember, this is an emergency bill the economy needs right now.

BARACK OBAMA: What we can’t do is drag our feet or delay much longer.

ANDREWS: But emergency bills are not paid for with higher taxes or budget cuts. The stimulus is all borrowed money. And so, anything that Congress couldn’t afford before -- $50 million to support the arts, or $70 million to help people stop smoking -- has found its way into the stimulus now.

MAYA MACGUINEAS, COMMITTEE FOR A RESPONSIBLE FEDERAL BUDGET: When you say to the members of Congress, “This has to get done, and it has to get done quickly,” it’s unfortunately an opportunity for a lot of things to get slipped in.

ANDREWS: Next week, here in the Senate, the size of the stimulus package becomes the issue, with some Democrats wanting to add even more to the package, and most Republicans saying no, that if the President wants true bipartisan support, all that add-on spending has to go. Wyatt Andrews, CBS News, Capitol Hill.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center