CBS's Plante Chides: Republicans 'In No Mood to Compromise' With Obama

On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante scolded Republicans for not being willing to work with Democrats in an upcoming White House meeting: "President Obama made a point of raising expectations for Republicans, who up to now have united against him....The newly empowered Republicans...seemed in no mood to compromise."

Plante went on to cite a Washington Post op ed by Republican congressional leaders as evidence of their resistance to compromise: "...sure to aggravate the Democrats, with language like this: 'Our friends across the aisle have clung for too long to the liberal wish list, including a job-killing health care law. Now we have a real chance to move away from the misplaced priorities of the past two years.'" While touting raised expectations for the GOP, Plante also highlighted Democratic efforts to lower expectations for themselves: "The White House spokesman is trying to keep expectations for today's meeting low. Probably a good idea in light of what the Republicans had to say in their op-ed in today's paper."

Plante began his report by criticizing Republicans for not agreeing to the President's initial meeting date: "Well, right after the election, the President invited the leaders here on November 18th. But the newly victorious Republicans said, 'Sorry, we're busy.'" He then portrayed Obama as the bigger person: "The President ignored the rebuff and he is framing today's meeting as the first step toward a new and productive relationship."

Following Plante's report, co-host Harry Smith interviewed Virginia Congressman and incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Smith continued to push for Republicans to back off some of their positions: "You're talking about the Bush tax cuts, which are due to expire soon. Basically the White House has said, 'You know, we're on board with the Republicans with all of them, except maybe for the very, very top earners in America.' Is there any wiggle room on this from the Republican side?"

Smith described the Republican piece in the Washington Post this way: "John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, Bill Plante talked about it in his piece a minute ago, a piece in The Washington Post this morning, it basically says, 'Mr. President, your way was wrong, our way is right.'" Smith failed to mention the headline of the opinion article: "Where we and Democrats can work together."  

The day after the election, Smith interviewed Nevada Senator Harry Reid and fretted over the lack of Republican compromise: "..the Republicans say over and over and over again for the last two months, no compromise, no compromise, no compromise."


Here is a full transcript of Plante's November 30 report and Smith's interview with Cantor:

7:00AM ET TEASE

HARRY SMITH: Face-to-face. For the first time since losing big in the midterm elections, President Obama will meet with Republican leaders today, but can the two sides work together? We'll ask the soon-to-be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as he gets ready for the big meeting.

7:0AM ET SEGMENT

SMITH: Now to politics. For the first time since the historic midterm elections, President Obama will meet with Republican leaders today. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante has the latest on that. Bill, good morning.

BILL PLANTE: Good morning, Harry. Well, right after the election, the President invited the leaders here on November 18th. But the newly victorious Republicans said, 'Sorry, we're busy.' The President ignored the rebuff and he is framing today's meeting as the first step toward a new and productive relationship.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: White House Face-Off; Obama Meets With GOP Leaders]

The President is still smarting from an elbow to the lip at a pickup basketball game last week.

BARACK OBAMA: Although Washington is supposed to be a town of sharp elbows, it's getting a little carried away.

PLANTE: Today he squares off with his biggest political rivals, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. The top two items on the table today, extending the Bush tax cuts and ratifying the nuclear arms control treaty with Russia. Other issues include extending unemployment insurance, repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and the report of a commission on ways to reduce the federal deficit. President Obama made a point of raising expectations for Republicans, who up to now have united against him.

OBAMA: We now have a shared responsibility to deliver for the American people on the issues that define not only these times but our future. And I hope we can do that in a cooperative and serious way.

PLANTE: But the newly empowered Republicans, meeting with the President for the first time since the election, seemed in no mood to compromise. Boehner and McConnell wrote an op-ed in today's Washington Post which is sure to aggravate the Democrats, with language like this: 'Our friends across the aisle have clung for too long to the liberal wish list, including a job-killing health care law. Now we have a real chance to move away from the misplaced priorities of the past two years. Democrats in Congress are working feverishly to move legislation on everything except stopping the tax hikes and lowering spending.' The White House spokesman is trying to keep expectations for today's meeting low. Probably a good idea in light of what the Republicans had to say in their op-ed in today's paper. Harry.

SMITH: Bill Plante, thanks so much. Joining us now from Capitol Hill is Congressman Eric Cantor, the soon-to-be House Majority Leader, who will be meeting with President Obama later today. Congressman, good morning.

ERIC CANTOR [REP. R-VA]: Good morning, Harry.

SMITH: You have been in meetings like this before with President Obama. Do you anticipate this one being any different in tone and tenor?

CANTOR: Well, Harry, I'm hopeful that we can all get together this morning and try and drive towards producing results for the American people. You know, we're going to come with message that we heard from the people on November 2nd saying, 'Look, right now, too many people are out of work in this economy, and we've got to do all we can to get more jobs for more people.' And one of the biggest hurdles to seeing that happen right now is the uncertainty surrounding the fact that tax rates are going to go up on everybody in just a few weeks if we don't act here in Washington. So I'm hopeful that we're going to come together to try and resolve that issue right up front.

SMITH: You're talking about the Bush tax cuts, which are due to expire soon. Basically the White House has said, 'You know, we're on board with the Republicans with all of them, except maybe for the very, very top earners in America.' Is there any wiggle room on this from the Republican side?

CANTOR: Well, look, Harry. You know, I think it's pretty clear that I'm not going to agree with President Obama on everything. And he's not going to – we're not going to agree with him on everything. But there is one thing that I do think we can come together on, and that's the fact that we have got a stubborn unemployment rate that is hovering around 10%. We've got to bring that back down, and right now, the best thing to do is to make sure that no one gets a tax hike while we're trying to see more jobs created in the private sector. So, hopefully we'll see a president that is responsive to the people that spoke on November 2nd. He can join us, and we can make sure now we go forward with an economy that's got, you know, all systems go as far as trying to get – see more jobs.

SMITH: John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, Bill Plante talked about it in his piece a minute ago, a piece in The Washington Post this morning, it basically says, 'Mr. President, your way was wrong, our way is right.' Now one of the things that the President said yesterday is, 'Alright, I'm going to agree with the Republicans, let's freeze federal wages for the next two years.' Is that at least a step in the right direction?

CANTOR: Well, absolutely. That's the kind of, you know, position and cooperation that we've been asking for. This is an idea of freezing federal pay that the Republicans put forward back in May. And so we embrace that. Certainly I know that the American people feel that the federal government has grown entirely too big. And the pay scales need to be brought down back to match the market rates in the private sector. So I laud the President for that move and I'm hopeful that that bodes well for this meeting this morning.

SMITH: We shall see. Congressman Eric Cantor, thank you very much for your time this morning. Do appreciate it, sir.

CANTOR: Thank you, Harry.

 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC