CBS's Smith Pressures GOP to Sign On to 'Obama's New Deal'

Harry Smith, CBS On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith touted President Obama's economic proposals and portrayed Republicans as obstructionist: "Obama's new plan. The President proposes to spend $50 billion on roads, airports, and railways and offers businesses a $200 billion tax cut. But the GOP says not so fast."

Later, Smith introduced a report by senior White House correspondent Bill Plante: "With unemployment at 9.6% and the midterm elections just two months away, President Obama is out and about this week promoting new ideas to get the economy moving again." Plante proclaimed: "Pumped up in full campaign mode before a crowd of union members in Milwaukee, Mr. Obama celebrated his administration's accomplishments and announced a new project to repair the nation's infrastructure." A headline on screen read: "Obama's New Deal; Announces $50 Billion Infrastructure Plan."

Following Plante's report, Smith spoke with CBS economics and business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis and political analyst John Dickerson about the President's plans. As Jarvis promoted the idea that more spending would create jobs, Smith asked Dickerson about Republican opposition: "...almost anything that the White House talks about, say over the last couple months or so, has met – had been met with a raspberry, I suppose we should assume this will be met with the same kind of reaction?" The on-screen headline changed to "GOP Rips New $50 Billion Infrastructure Plan." 

Dickerson had earlier used the "raspberry" image to dismiss GOP criticism as pure politics: "Well, the resounding sound was a huge raspberry from all Republican corners to the President's proposal. You know, they – it's almost as if these press releases are pre-written." In reply to Smith, Dickerson suggested a strategy for Obama: "So then does the President have an issue, can he take it on the stump and say, 'look, I'm even trying to give Republicans things that they want, that they've said they've wanted, they're still saying no,' and that's going to be his message for the next two months."

Smith followed up: "Is there any chance any of this stuff the White House is talking about is going to get any support from Republicans?" Dickerson remarked: "No....in the end, the President's going to have to try to rally his troops around the idea that the Republicans are really trying to block anything that's sensible."

On Sunday's Face the Nation, Smith filled in for host Bob Schieffer and asked a panel of liberal economists: "was the stimulus big enough?" He also pushed for a "second stimulus," questioned extending the Bush tax cuts, and proposed the creation of "something like a new WPA" to create jobs.

Here is a full transcript of the September 7 segment:
7:00AM TEASE

HARRY SMITH: Obama's new plan. The President proposes to spend $50 billion on roads, airports, and railways and offers businesses a $200 billion tax cut. But the GOP says not so fast.

7:06AM SEGMENT

SMITH: Now to the economy and politics. With unemployment at 9.6% and the midterm elections just two months away, President Obama is out and about this week promoting new ideas to get the economy moving again. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante has the latest on that. Bill, good morning.

BILL PLANTE: Good morning, Harry. The stalled economy has fueled voter discontent and Democrats fears of losing control of Congress. So the President will be on the campaign trail for much of the next two months trying to turn things around.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama's New Deal; Announces $50 billion Infrastructure Plan]

BARACK OBAMA: I am going to keep fighting every single day, every single hour, every single minute, to turn this economy around and put people back to work and renew the American dream. Not just for your family, not just for all our families, but for future generations.

PLANTE: Pumped up in full campaign mode before a crowd of union members in Milwaukee, Mr. Obama celebrated his administration's accomplishments and announced a new project to repair the nation's infrastructure. The proposal would rebuild 150,000 miles of roads, construct 4,000 miles of rail, and reconstruct 150 miles of runway as well as modernizing the air traffic control system. Administration officials insist this isn't another stimulus, but the President says it will be a big boost to the economy.

OBAMA: This will not only create jobs immediately, it's also going to make our economy hum over the long haul.

PLANTE: House Minority Leader John Boehner shot back in a statement, saying 'we don't need more government stimulus spending. We need to end Washington Democrats' out-of-control spending spree, stop their tax hikes, and create jobs.' Administration officials propose to pay for the infrastructure rebuilding by eliminating some tax breaks for oil and gas production. And the President will soon propose another tax break for small business. He wants to eliminate taxes on capital investment for the coming year until the end of 2011. Harry.

SMITH: Alright, Bill Plante at the White House this morning, thank you. Here now to talk – take a closer look at the President's plans are CBS News business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis. And in Washington, CBS News political analyst John Dickerson. Good morning to you both.

REBECCA JARVIS: Good morning.

SMITH: Rebecca, let's start with you, let's go through these two plans. The $50 billion, sort of, stimulus junior, as it were, to all of this infrastructure work.

JARVIS: Infrastructure-

SMITH: This is supposed to be kind of a seed, really, for a much larger idea of addressing infrastructure needs across the country.

JARVIS: Absolutely, and well we've had these infrastructure needs, obviously, in the very first stimulus, which was about $800 billion, some of the stimulus needs were supposed to be addressed. And if you look at those numbers, that original stimulus dollars, that original 800 billion or so stimulus dollars, that created – according to the Congressional Budget Office, which is a nonpartisan group – that created 1.4 to 3.3 million jobs. So if you think about this infrastructure plan which is $50 billion – that's the proposal – that, if it's an apples to apples comparison, it's a 1/16 of the size of the original plan, could create about 88,000 to 206,000 jobs in a year.

SMITH: That's not a lot of jobs, although it is being welcomed, politically, in some corners and being shunned by – in other quarters. Let's get John Dickerson on board here to just talk a little bit about the reaction to this. What was the resounding sound, especially from Republicans?

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, the resounding sound was a huge raspberry from all Republican corners to the President's proposal. You know, they – it's almost as if these press releases are pre-written. They see this as a last-minute desperate attempt by the President. They say more big government spending going to balloon the deficit, this was right into their existing playbook.

SMITH: Alright, and let's talk about this two – this other-

DICKERSON: The $200 billion.

SMITH: Exactly. Which is a whole – kind of putting a different template on the way businesses sort of write down their own investment in their business.

JARVIS: Yeah, as Bill Plante mentioned, it's an original for two years businesses won't have to wait to write down their investments in new things. Instead, they'll get to take off their books, they'll get to take the deductions in taxes. It's a $200 billion plan. And some economists estimate it will help grow business investment by 5% to 10%, which could be a boost to some new businesses, as well as new jobs.

SMITH: Alright. And John Dickerson, we haven't heard so much reaction to that yet, but sort of overall, almost anything that the White House talks about, say over the last couple months or so, has met – had been met with a raspberry, I suppose we should assume this will be met with the same kind of reaction?

DICKERSON: It will be. And the problem is the President's got to get these things through Congress and particularly in the Senate, that requires Republican votes and his – the President's allies in the Senate say that just isn't going to happen. So then does the President have an issue, can he take it on the stump and say, 'look, I'm even trying to give Republicans things that they want, that they've said they've wanted, they're still saying no,' and that's going to be his message for the next two months.

SMITH: Because that really ends up being the question. Is there any chance any of this stuff the White House is talking about is going to get any support from Republicans?

DICKERSON: No. And though there may an tiny bit of support for this $30 billion small business bill, because small business is something everybody loves. But in the end, the President's going to have to try to rally his troops around the idea that the Republicans are really trying to block anything that's sensible.

SMITH: Yeah, okay. And finally, last but not least, all through this then, the Bush tax cuts has become this sort of mantra of sorts that the Republicans say, 'do not touch this. Do not touch this.' What's the news on that today?

JARVIS: Well, this $200 billion tax credit for businesses throughout the country, some are viewing it as a potential alternative to the Bush tax cuts for the upper earning income earners.

SMITH: Alright, thanks very much, Rebecca Jarivs, John Dickerson. Thank you very much for joining us and your insights this morning.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC