Invited on Tuesday's Today show to discuss the tax cut compromise in Congress, CNBC's Erin Burnett initially whined that "We can't afford it" but then went on to tell viewers that if Congress were to forego tax cuts we could afford "universal pre-school for free and provide free college tuition for half of the college students."
When asked by Today co-host Meredith Vieira about the "price tag" of the tax cut agreement and whether America could afford it, Burnett went on to bluntly assert "The answer to that is no" and then went on to cite a New York Times analysis that listed all the goodies America could pay for if Congress scrapped a tax break to those earning over $250,000 a year, as seen in this exchange from the December 7 Today show:
(video after the jump)
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Let's talk about the price tag here. Tax cuts gonna be financed by adding an additional $900 billion to the national debt. You've been talking to the experts. Can we afford this?
ERIN BURNETT: The answer to that is no. We can't afford it. The budget is 43,000 pages Meredith, and we have to make cuts to get out this problem. Now if these tax cuts succeed at getting the economy really growing, more people working at higher wages, over the next two years we'll be able to afford a tax increase then. And it will be have been worth it. But over the long term, no, we can't afford it. New York Times did a very interesting analysis this morning that said, Meredith, if we didn't give people over $250,000 the break here, we'd save $60 billion a year. And for that we could have universal pre-school for free and provide free college tuition for half of the college students in this country. So the numbers are very big. We can't afford it over the long term, but if this works over two years, it may have been worth it.
VIEIRA: But we're still digging ourselves into a deeper hole?
BURNETT: Yes. We are, I mean we are, we are borrowing money to do this. There's no question. And the question is will it trickle down? Will it work in creating jobs? That's the bet that Capitol Hill is making, the President is making and that Wall Street, at least for now, is buying into.
—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here