What Romney Did to Obama, Giuliani Does to MSNBC's Chris Hayes

You might think of this one as a sequel to the Debacle in Denver.

MSNBC weekend host Chris Hayes was not his chirpy self last night after running into a buzzsaw known as former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani in an exchange reminiscent of that between a befuddled President Obama and a nimble Mitt Romney (video after page break) --

HAYES: Am I still correct that the Romney campaign's official position is they want to extend indefinitely or permanently the Bush tax cuts on the table, which would of course cut taxes for high-income individuals. I don't even think that's a matter of debate and yet, Mitt Romney himself tonight seemed to repudiate that.

GIULIANI: If you extend the Bush tax cuts, you don't cut taxes, you keep taxes where they are. If you don't extend the Bush tax cuts, you raise taxes.

Pretty simple stuff - unless you're employed among the like-minded punditry at MSNNBC for whom so much accepted wisdom is beyond dispute. Hayes tried again --

HAYES: No, they're set to expire. It was your party that set them to expire, I would add. I was sitting here at the desk, I didn't do that, the Republican Party was the one that decided to do that ...

GIULIANI: That's an accounting matter.

HAYES: No, it's not an accounting measure, it's actually, they're actually going to expire.

GIULIANI: Of course it's an accounting measure! I'm paying a certain level of tax this year. Next year, if the Bush tax cuts expire, I get a big tax increase. But if the Bush tax cuts don't expire, I pay the same tax next year that I'm paying this year.

Hayes then attempted to parrot the left-wing lie that the Bush tax cuts helped only the wealthy --

HAYES: Mr. Giuliani, you are one of those people who are going to see a very large tax cut because you are, to your great credit, a high-earning individual and, of course, you will see a large bounty (yes -- "bounty") from this tax cut. That's the question on the table.

GIULIANI: Stop the ad personam silliness, OK? The reality is, it's true for everyone. Will you let me finish my answer rather than yelling and screaming at me?

HAYES: Yes, please.

GIULIANI: Just let me finish my answer and then you can say whatever you want to say. The reality is that if the Bush tax cuts expire, for every American next year their taxes go up and for every American, if they don't expire, their taxes remain exactly the same. So it's ridiculous to talk about that as a tax increase. It is not a tax increase, not on any American, rich one or anybody paying taxes. We know a lot of Americans don't pay taxes. But for every American that pays taxes, if the Bush tax cuts expire, their taxes go up. Now, President Obama wants to vary that for people at $200,000, $250,000, but that's just the reality of it. And you can scream all you want, but that's just the reality of it.

HAYES: No, no, I'm not screaming. I just want to establish that because this is a very important point about the distributional impacts (what people not employed at MSNBC cite as "impacts") of what our tax policy are. And my understanding of the campaign to this point was that there had been a difference between Mitt Romney and the president on this. Mitt Romney wants to make sure he preserves those tax cuts for those at the high end and the president doesn't want to and I just want to establish, for people who are watching the debate, that that is still the case.

GIULIANI: Of course it's the case. Mitt Romney wants to extend the Bush tax cuts ...

HAYES (incapable of stopping himself): ... for high-income earners.

GIULIANI: ... for everyone. If you leave those alone, then there's no tax increase next year. If you get rid of the Bush tax cuts for anybody, there'll be a tax increase.

Hayes's next salvo again backfired when he implied Giuliani was benefiting from government largesse in the form of contracts with Homeland Security --

GIULIANI: Now, why am I opposed to raising taxes? I don't want to give the government any more money. They're wasting enough money already. (Hayes mumbles something about "contracts"). I believe in the Ronald Reagan approach ...

HAYES: ... Department of Homeland Security ...

GIULIANI: ... I believe in the Ronald Reagan approach, if I can finish my answer, I believe in the Ronald Reagan approach that you should not feed the beast. Let's put the beast on a diet. Let's see if they can spend a little less money. That may force them to do actually some cutting.

HAYES: Does Department of Homeland Security and related spending through contracts on, say, private consulting firms like yourself, does that count as feeding the beast or not?

GIULIANI (stares at Hayes like teacher looking at unteachable student): OK, I have no contract with the Department of Homeland Security. One more try at an ad personam attack, doesn't work, never done a contract with the Department of Homeland Security, don't have one planned, don't get any money from the government.

HAYES (shrinking into himself): Sure.

GIULIANI: So, you can try all those ad personam attacks that you want. I do private business with private individuals, get no money from the government.

HAYES (feebly): Sure, OK.

Followed by the coup de grace from Giuliani -- "Want to try another one?" Which Hayes did not, his MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow then intervening to spare him further embarrassment. 

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts