Pat Toomey Slams Soledad O'Brien's 'Factually Ridiculous' Charges

Liberal CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien on Tuesday berated Republican Pat Toomey as a supporter of tax cuts for the rich. The Starting Point host then cited a liberal think tank and proceeded to piously portray herself as above partisanship: "I'm just a voter, just a regular old voter." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Toomey slammed the "factually ridiculous" charges.

During the interview with Republican Senator Patrick Toomey, O’Brien repeatedly slammed the Senator’s budget proposals as being rich-friendly and harmful for the middle class. She declared, "Here's what you propose. Tax cuts for the wealthy. For people who are making under $200,000, taxes would...rise."

The interview started off in typical CNN fashion, with O’Brien citing a hostile Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study on Toomey’s budget proposal.  She lashed out, claiming that Toomey’s proposal would include, "tax cuts for the wealthy, for people who are making under $200,000, taxes would raise, be risen, would rise.  You would limit the child credit."

He added that his goal is to "get rid of some of the deductions and loopholes and credits, broaden the base by which we apply taxes and do it with lower rates for everybody."

O’Brien continued the interview by harping on the false idea that Toomey's goal is to simply protect the upper class: "The child credit and also the mortgage interest deduction and you had said earlier Medicaid and Medicare, right, all of those, and there are people who look at that which is what you're proposing and say, so that's bad for the middle class. Those are all deductions that middle class people rely on and wealthy people don't really rely on."    

Asking about the congressional Super Committee, O'Brien made her declaration of being a regular American, part of the 99 percent, if you will: "So as, you know, I'm just a voter, just a regular old voter and I look at those congressional approval numbers and I think, wow, these people just cannot get anything done."

O’Brien has a tremendous impact on her audience and to pretend that she isn’t a member of the elite liberal media is unfortunate and inaccurate.

On January 31, O'Brien falsely labeled George W. Bush a "food stamp President."


Below is the relevant transcript:

CNN Starting Point
02/14/2012
7:40 a.m.

SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: The plan includes tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans and targeted investments including $476 billion for infrastructure upgrades over six years. $350 billion for job creation, $30 billion to hire teachers and police and firefighters. $30 billion to modernize schools and $2 billion on r&d for advanced manufacturing. Talking about the budget with me this morning is Republican Senator Pat Tommey of the great state of Pennsylvania he also serves on the budget and economic committees and served on the debt super committee. It’s nice to have you sir. Thanks for talking with us.

SENATOR PATRICK TOOMEY: Good morning, thanks for having me.

O’BRIEN: Thank you.  You’ve said about the president's budget, it doesn't go after the deficit, it doesn't go after entitlements. So let's talk about both of those things. First, entitlements. What entitlements would you cut?

TOOMEY: Well let's look at what the president himself has said. He has said that the long-term driver of our deficits and our debt are completely unsustainable budget picture is mandatory health care spending. It's the big health care programs. The president knows that. And yet he gives us a budget in which spending grows, taxes are higher, spends even more than the tax increases and gives us a bigger deficit than we had last year and no reforms at all on the fundamental driver of these programs. So I think that's a tremendous abdication of leadership. What we need to do is restructure the design of the big health care programs. Medicare and Medicaid for younger workers so that when they retire it will be there for them. We're on a path right now where it will not survive.

O’BRIEN: Ok let's take a look at your plan for cutting the budget. Here's -- there's been an analysis and I know you know this, at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It's a nonpartisan organization. Here's what you propose. Tax cuts for the wealthy. For people who are making under $200,000, taxes would raise, be risen, would rise. You would limit the child credit. You would limit --

TOOMEY: Wait a minute. I got to stop because that's factually ridiculous.  

O’BRIEN: Really?  Ok.  

TOOMEY: Yes. Factually wrong and ridiculous and not close.

O’BRIEN: What part about it?  Well let’s start...  

TOOMEY: Raising taxes on people whose income is lower than $200,000. What I’ve said is we should make the current tax rates permanent. In fact, What I’d prefer to do, that's at a minimum, would be something like what I proposed in the super committee, which was a process by which we would simplify the tax code, get rid of some of the deductions and loopholes and credits, broaden the base by which we apply taxes and do it with  lower rates for everybody.

O’BRIEN: Some of those loopholes and credits though would be, for example, the mortgage interest deduction, you want to get rid of that or limit that, right? And the child credit, true?

TOOMEY: They might be. Here's my suggestion. You know, Marty Feltseen, a Harvard economist, came up with a very creative, and I think an elegant way to deal with the fact that we have all of these huge deductions that force us to have high marginal rates. And what his suggestion is put all of the itemized deductions into a basket and limit the total value of that basket. Doesn't mean you have to eliminate any one of those items but you couldn't have all of them.

O’BRIEN: But there are people –

TOOMEY: Now the advantage of that is you could lower marginal rates accordingly.

O’BRIEN: But there are people who look at what you have proposed and let's focus on the two we're not arguing over. The child credit and also the mortgage interest deduction and you had said earlier Medicaid and Medicare, right, all of those, and there are people who look at that which is what you're proposing and say, so that's bad for the middle class. Those are all deductions that middle class people rely on and wealthy people don't really rely on.

TOOMEY: Let's remember the middle class pays a marginal tax rate on their income. And what I have said is if we diminish the value of deductions I want to lower that rate as well. So the middle class would be paying a lower marginal rate. As far as medicare goes, I mean the president acknowledged it's not sustainable in its current form. So I'm not talking about pulling the rug out from under anybody who is on medicare now or about to go on medicare. But somebody my age who is 50 years old or someone in their 40s, I think we’ve got to make some changes. I think wealthy people are going to have to pay more, frankly, for this benefit. I just don't think it makes sense to continue this universal entitlement that's growing faster than our economy can possibly grow.

O’BRIEN:  Let me ask you about the Super Committee. When you served on the Super Committee and it failed to reach an agreement you said this is a quote, “the President actively made our job more difficult.” The President in turn said about Republicans, “Republicans refuse to listen to the voices of reason.” That's a quote there. So as, you know, I'm just a voter, just a regular old voter and I look at those congressional approval numbers and I think, wow, these people just cannot get anything done, even in the most important issue, the super committee cannot get something done. How do you fix that?

TOOMEY: Right.  You know, it's very, very frustrating. You know, what I tried to do is offer a proposal that was outside of my comfort zone, something that met the demands of the other side. I offered tax reform that generated new revenue. They said they had to have revenue. I said, okay, we really need to change the architecture of the big entitlement programs, but since you guys aren't willing to do it, can you at least agree on some of the very minor tweaks along the edges that will save some money? That was a proposal that actually got some initial traction but then, frankly, the most liberal wing of the democratic party rebelled against it and we were unable to make it in congress and I wish we had.

O:BRIEN: So it sounds like you're saying there's no hope because it becomes a political thing. It's not even really about trying to trick the budget, it's about, listen, we're not going to let you do what you want to do, because we know you're not going to let us do what we're want to do so we're all going to have a giant stalemate and too bad for the voters.

TOOMEY: Well, except that again I was the one that offered some of what the democrats wanted to do in order to try to reach an agreement and they weren't willing to meet us halfway. So that makes it pretty hard to get a deal done. I think ultimately it takes presidential leadership and unfortunately in this budget we're not seeing it.

O’BRIEN: Interesting. Alright Senator Pat Toomey joining us this morning.  Thank you sir for your time we appreciate it. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.