PBS's Charlie Rose opened last night’s Bloomberg/Washington Post GOP presidential economic policy debate by noting the round table format was like a “kind of kitchen table where families for generations have come together to talk and solve their problems.”
But through much of the debate it sounded more like Thanksgiving dinner with your liberal aunt and uncle as panelist Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post hammered the candidates from the left and moderator Charlie Rose used a 27-year-old Reagan sound bite to push candidates to come out in favor of tax increases.
For her first question, posed to Rep. Michelle Bachmann (Minn.), Tumulty channeled the Occupy Wall Street crowd, asking, “Do you think it’s right that no Wall Street executives have gone to jail for the damage they did to the economy?”
Bachmann responded by focusing on federal government policies that encouraged risky mortgages to credit unworthy recipients, which Tumulty interrupted with her insistence that “the federal government had also deregulated them [the banks].”
For her second question, Tumulty attempted to twist former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s reaction to the Occupy Wall Street protests:
You’ve said that the current protests on Wall Street are, in your words, the natural product of Obama’s class warfare. Does this mean that these people who are out there protesting on Wall Street and across the country have no grievance?
Early in the first hour, moderator Charlie Rose invoked the Gipper when he asked Gov. Perry:
Are you prepared, even though you said you’ve said that you want to make Washington inconsequential, to go to Washington, and, as Ronald Reagan did, compromise on spending cuts and taxes in order to produce results?
Later in the debate, Rose played a clip of President Reagan from August 1984 calling for “raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share.” Rose then began with Perry, asking if he “agree[s] with the former president.”
Perry responded that Reagan agreed to tax rises that were to have been accompanied by spending cuts which the Democratic Congress never approved. Perry added that it was a continual problem in Washington, D.C., as spending is never cut while taxes are often increased as a response to deficits.
A few minutes later, Tumulty pressed former Gov. Romney (R-Mass.) whether he would choose “some mix of revenues and cuts or these draconian, automatic spending cuts that would include defense.”
By “mix of revenues,” Tumulty clearly meant tax hikes, although her use of euphemism contrasted starkly with the specter of “draconian” cuts in the federal budget that include defense.