CBS’s Pelley Chafes: ‘Only Budget Cuts and No Relief for Those Suffering in This Economy’

Framing a shortcoming in the debt deal as a liberal would and does, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley on Tuesday night regretted the how “the last time the President and the Congress compromised on a major spending bill, Republicans got tax cuts and Mr. Obama won an extension of unemployment benefits,” but this time “there are only budget cuts and no relief for those suffering in this economy.”

The missing action by Congress: Extending unemployment benefits beyond the 99 weeks authorized last December. The victim CBS showcased, however, is guaranteed payments through this December – another five months/20-plus weeks -- so is hardly in any immediate danger and thus made an odd choice for CBS to highlight.

Reporter Dean Reynolds focused his entire story on that unemployed woman in Chicago who railed against the politicians in DC, presumably mostly the conservatives: “I truly, truly don't understand both the hubris in it and the lack of compassion and empathy, I don't understand where these people come from.”

Reynolds explained “she was hoping there would be something in the legislation that dealt with chronic joblessness, and specifically with jobless benefits. Hers run out in December.”

Reynolds, who of course never considered any argument against a further extension, concluded by assuming Congress cannot pass an extension sometime in the next five months: “There are nearly four million Americans who have had their unemployment benefits extended once or twice, and who may now lose them at the end of this year.”

From the Tuesday, August 2 CBS Evening News:

SCOTT PELLEY: The last time the President and the Congress compromised on a major spending bill, Republicans got tax cuts and Mr. Obama won an extension of unemployment benefits. But in this latest compromise, there are only budget cuts and no relief for those suffering in this economy. We asked Dean Reynolds to look into this.

DEAN REYNOLDS: The sigh of relief in Washington over the debt deal dissipated long before it could reach Davlin Street on Chicago's north side where 59-year-old Kevin Kalmes lives alone in her foreclosed home, paging through a bumper crop of August bills and wondering what Congress was thinking.

KEVIN KALMES (SP?): I truly, truly don't understand both the hubris in it and the lack of compassion and empathy, I don't understand where these people come from.

REYNOLDS: Unemployed as a production manager since March of 2010, she was hoping there would be something in the legislation that dealt with chronic joblessness, and specifically with jobless benefits. Hers run out in December.

REYNOLDS, TO KALMES: Staring into the abyss?

KALMES: Yeah. I mean, how, I have no clue, I have no clue what will happen.

REYNOLDS: The extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks came last December.

KALMES: I always felt good when I had my car because I kept telling everybody at least I could live in my car and go places and everybody would just be chagrined at that. But I had to surrender my car. So now literally when this place is gone, I have no place to live.

REYNOLDS: And Kevin’s story is hardly unique, Scott. There are nearly four million Americans who have had their unemployment benefits extended once or twice, and who may now lose them at the end of this year.

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