CBS’s Schieffer Derides Boehner for Tying Debt Ceiling Hike to Spending Cuts: ‘Was He Kidding?’

The Sunday interview show hosts all reacted with disbelief toward House Speaker John Boehner’s pledge to demand spending cuts equal to the debt ceiling increase, with CBS’s Bob Schieffer the most derisive as he declared “it was a week when you couldn’t believe your ears” because, when Boehner said the same thing last year, “Congress tied itself in such a knot that America’s credit rating was downgraded, not to mention Congress’ approval rating which hit a new low. And now he wants to fight the same battle? Was he kidding?”

Schieffer rued: “Does this mean we’re headed towards another of those nasty ‘stop everything’ political standoffs in an election year?”

Over on NBC’s Meet the Press, David Gregory teased: “The debt crisis back here at home. Will we see a re-play of last summer’s debt ceiling debacle?” Boehner “laid down the gauntlet,” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos warned before scolding the Republican Speaker: “A lot of people say that what makes us like Greece is putting the question of whether or not we’re going to pay our bills, making that a political question. That’s what The Economist said.”

George Will, during the This Week roundtable, disabused the media narrative of a “debacle” last year:

GEORGE WILL: In discussing this, the word “debacle” is mandatory because everyone says we don’t want to go through ‘the debacle’ we had last August with the increase of the debt ceiling. To which I say: What debacle? Of course, it was untidy. That’s what democracy looks like.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: America’s credit rating was downgraded.

WILL: And what happened? Liquidity from all over the world flooded in to our downgraded treasuries. It made no difference whatever. And we sailed right on. What the President wanted at that time was what he called a clean extension of the debt ceiling increase, which meant no restraint on spending, no super-committee. Nothing.

Schieffer’s loaded and derogatory show opening about Boehner was part of a larger opening package which ridiculed Mitt Ronmey and showcased a slap at Romney from Vice President Joe Biden:

Audio: MP3 clip

From the top of the Sunday, May 20 Face the Nation on CBS:

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation, it was a week when you couldn’t believe your ears. First it was House Speaker John Boehner.

SPEAKER BOEHNER: I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase.

SCHIEFFER: When he said that last year, Congress tied itself in such a knot that America’s credit rating was downgraded, not to mention Congress’ approval rating which hit a new low. And now he wants to fight the same battle? Was he kidding?

PRESIDENT OBAMA (Holding a hoagie): This is no joke right here.

SCHIEFFER: The President and congressional leaders huddled over hoagies but had no answers, so we’ll ask three key Senators: Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Virginia’s Mark Warner, and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham. Does this mean we’re headed towards another of those nasty “stop everything” political standoffs in an election year?

And did you hear what Mitt Romney said about the comeback of the auto industry? Vice President Biden sure did.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I’m going to quote him, he said, quote, “I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that the industry’s come back.” Oh? And by the way, I’ll take a lot of credit for a man having landed on the moon (laughter ) because although I was in school, I rooted for it.

SCHIEFFER: On another subject, Romney admitted he doesn’t always remember his exact words, but he said, you can still take them to the bank.

MITT ROMNEY: I’m not familiar precisely exactly what I said but I stand by what I said, whatever it was.

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Schieffer’s first question of the program, to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate is with us this morning from Louisville. Welcome, Senator. I want to start out with this statement by Speaker Boehner because last summer, when Congress got itself all tangled up over extending the debt ceiling and the country was headed toward default, financial securities got their ratings downgraded, you were one of the key players, as it were, who helped structure a compromise that kept all that from happening. Were you surprised when Speaker Boehner said now he’s ready to repeat that same fight and go through this whole thing again?

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