CBS’s Schieffer Mimics Obama, Proposes Republicans ‘the Party that Can’t Say Yes to Anything?’

Adopting the spin of President Barack Obama -- who on Friday insisted “one of the questions that the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is: Can they say yes to anything?” – on Sunday’s Face the Nation CBS’s Bob Schieffer demanded of Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl: “Is there a problem for Republicans that might emerge as just the party of no? The party that can't say yes to anything?”

Kyl delivered a fine retort, pointing out the Republican-controlled House has “said yes to something and gotten strongly criticized,” the Cut, Cap and Balance plan as well as the Ryan budget which “the President, a lot of his folks came out and savaged it. But they've never put on a budget on the table. So twice Republicans have said yes. The only thing we haven't said yes to is job-killing tax increases.”

(Over on NBC’s Meet the Press, Andrea Mitchell sputtered about even having a debt ceiling and the incompetence of conservatives for pledging to not raise taxes. “I don't understand how 236 members, by the way, sign a pledge of no taxes before they even start coming in to compromise,” Mitchell sniped toward the end of the roundtable, before fretting:

Why do we have a debt ceiling? We’re the only major industrial country that does. Can we just get rid of the thing? Only Denmark has a debt ceiling.)

Earlier on Face the Nation, Schieffer condescendingly wondered:

Do you think that Republicans – particularly those in the freshman class over in the House – understand just how serious this debt limit crisis is? Because so many of them ran for and were elected on a platform of I promise no way no how will I ever raise taxes.

Schieffer acknowledged “the Democrats are having a hard time, a lot of them, with talking about reforming Social Security and Medicare,” yet he failed to press either White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley or Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, his two Democratic guests, about actually committing to any adjustment in entitlement programs.

He did, however, push Kyl on “revenues,” asking: “Republicans, as you point out, are having a hard time with anything that looks like a tax increase. Could you tell me something that Republicans would be willing to compromise on in the way of revenues?”

Last week: CBS’s Bob Schieffer touted how President Obama has made “concessions” but, he sputtered, “I don't hear any concessions from people on the other side. They just say no taxes, and that’s their negotiating posture.” He demanded of Senator Marco Rubio: “Can you have meaningful reform here without increasing revenues in some way?”

From the July 24 Face the Nation:

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this, Senator. Do you think that Republicans – particularly those in the freshman class over in the House – understand just how serious this debt limit crisis is? Because so many of them ran for and were elected on a platform of I promise no way no how will I ever raise taxes. So that puts them in a really tough spot. Do you think they understand what might happen if you can't raise this debt limit here?

SENATOR JON KYL: Part of the problem, as you point out, is if you look at the public opinion surveys the majority of Americans don't want us to raise the debt ceiling. What the Republican leadership has said, look, it's got to be raised but perhaps we can satisfy the large majority of American public by accompanying that with large deductions in spending. Spending is our problem here. If we can show them that we can substantially reduce spending then maybe we can go ahead and make this debt ceiling extension without too much political repercussion.

SCHIEFFER: Is there a problem for Republicans that might emerge as just the party of no? The party that can't say yes to anything? Do you see that as a political problem?

KYL: Bob, I would just put it the other way. The first thing I pointed out was that twice Congress has passed something. They've said yes to something and gotten strongly criticized. Did you know, when the Ryan budget was passed, the President, a lot of his folks came out and savaged it. But they've never put on a budget on the table. So twice Republicans have said yes. The only thing we haven't said yes to is job-killing tax increases.

SCHIEFFER: The Democrats are having a hard time, a lot of them, with talking about reforming Social Security and Medicare. Republicans, as you point out, are having a hard time with anything that looks like a tax increase. Could you tell me something that Republicans would be willing to compromise on in the way of revenues? I know you want to bring the tax rates down by eliminating some of the deductions. What would be some of the deductions that you might get Republicans to go along with?

KYL: Let me just back up one stage. I was part of the so-called Biden talks. We agreed to at least $150 billion in increased revenues. Now they weren't tax increases but they were user fees, user fee increases, sale of assets and so on. So it's not as if we're against revenues. It's just we don't like to see the tax increases but on the tax side we have uniformly said we need tax reform. And the President, we believe, is correct when he said on the corporate tax rate, for example, in order to be more competitive around the world we need to bring our corporate rate down. We're by far and away the highest in the world. We could do that by eliminating some of the deductions and credits and then with that savings reducing the rate. So that's the way we would prefer to deal with that.

SCHIEFFER: Say, for example, would you be willing to eliminate the deduction on mortgage interest rates?

KYL: Well, I'll listen to my constituents on that. They'll have a lot to say about it. I think it can be reduced somewhat but that's something that is very important to a lot of Americans...

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