CBS 'Early Show' Focuses on Democrats 'Furious' Over Tax Deal

At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith made liberal reaction to President Obama's Monday announcement of a tax deal with Republicans the central focus of coverage: "Let's make a deal. President Obama and Republican leaders agree to extend Bush-era tax cuts for everyone. What did the President get in return? And will it be enough to stop any challenge from angry Democrats?"

In the later segment, little attention was given to Republican reaction to the deal. While two sound bites of the President's address on the issue were played, no Republican sound bites were featured.

Smith lamented how the deal "breaks a long-standing promise by the President." Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante followed by explaining: "The President did campaign on a promise to end tax breaks for the wealthy. But he had no leverage....in order to get tax breaks for the middle class, he's had to settle for this." Plante concluded his report by declaring: "Democrats are still angry. A lot of them think that the President sold out to the Republicans."

After Plante's report, Smith spoke with political analyst John Dickerson and proclaimed: "Democrats are furious. They are – you can feel the steam all the way here in New York City, because they are so mad." He then wondered: "Is there any way the President gets – puts his arm around them and says, 'Let's sit down, let's work this out, let's make this work'?" Dickerson replied: "The liberals are very angry, and the Democrats who actually have to pass this in the Senate, reacted with the surprise that usually is associated with surprise dental exams."

Near the end of the discussion, Smith finally noted the success of Republicans in pushing for the tax deal: "Doesn't it also illustrate, though, that the Republicans already – even though there's a lame-duck Congress that's still, you know, in power for another couple of weeks – it's the Republicans who are really driving the bus?" Dickerson agreed: "The Republicans are driving the bus, on this one in particular."

In his concluding thoughts, Dickerson remarked on the possibility of the lame-duck Congress addressing other issues before the new year: "Republicans have said unless they get a deal on taxes and continuing funding for the government, another thing on the agenda, they won't play on any of those other issues....Another reason for liberals to be angry, 'You made this deal, and you're not going to get anything else?'"

Here is a full transcript of the December 7 segment:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: Let's make a deal. President Obama and Republican leaders agree to extend Bush-era tax cuts for everyone. What did the President get in return? And will it be enough to stop any challenge from angry Democrats?

7:04AM ET SEGMENT:

SMITH: Now to politics. President Obama has a tentative deal with Republicans to extend all the Bush-era tax cuts for two more years. It's part of a wider agreement that affects nearly every American, and it also breaks a long-standing promise by the President. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante has the story. Good morning, Bill.

BILL PLANTE: Good morning, Harry. The President did campaign on a promise to end tax breaks for the wealthy. But he had no leverage. And so he's had to settle for – in order to get tax breaks for the middle class, he's had to settle for this. It also extends unemployment benefits.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Let's Make A Deal; Obama Compromises With GOP on Tax Cuts]

BARACK OBAMA: I know there's some people in my own party, and in the other party, who would rather prolong this battle, even if we can't reach a compromise. But I'm not willing to let working families across this country become collateral damage for political warfare here in Washington.

PLANTE: The proposed compromise extends the Bush tax cuts for taxpayers in every income bracket, including the wealthiest. In exchange for a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits for long-term, out-of-work Americans. There is a one-year 2% cut in payroll taxes for all workers. And the estate tax returns at 35% on estates over $5 million. But both the tax cuts and the jobless benefits are being paid for with borrowing, adding to the deficit. The President, speaking Monday evening to announce what he calls 'the framework,' cautioned Democrats opposed to the deal that it was time to bring this fight to an end.

OBAMA: As much as the political wisdom may dictate fighting over solving problems, it would be the wrong thing to do.

PLANTE: This bill also extends a lot of the other tax breaks that were in place. And a lot of them help lower-income earners. But Democrats are still angry. A lot of them think that the President sold out to the Republicans. The White House response is simply, the President thought that he was doing what was best for the economy. Harry.

SMITH: Bill Plante at the White House this morning. Thank you very much. Also in Washington this morning is CBS News political analyst John Dickerson. John, good day to you.

JOHN DICKERSON: Good morning, Harry.

SMITH: Democrats are furious. They are – you can feel the steam all the way here in New York City, because they are so mad. Is there any way the President gets – puts his arm around them and says, 'Let's sit down, let's work this out, let's make this work'?

DICKERSON: Well, yeah, you're exactly right. The liberals are very angry, and the Democrats who actually have to pass this in the Senate, reacted with the surprise that usually is associated with surprise dental exams. And, the problem for the President is he needs to get those votes. But he also has a lot of Republicans now, and that's the coalition he's decided to grab here. As Bill mentioned in his piece, he spoke to both parties. He was the man in the middle, who said stop this fighting, the American people are the ones who will suffer. Both of you get in line, and that was a message to his own party, as well as to Republicans.

SMITH: The White House clearly thinks this is a really good deal, because they basically traded an extension of unemployment benefits that goes 13 months, well into next year, for this two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts. They must think this is the best deal they could get.

DICKERSON: That's right. The White House says, 'This is the best deal we could get.' And in fact, in speaking to liberals, they say, 'It's a better deal than anybody would have expected. Focus here on the good stuff,' they say. 'There's stimulus for the economy, there's help for lower and middle income people. This is the new reality,' they argue. 'We've got to pay a price to Republicans who are now in charge. They have the leverage.' So, given all of that, the White House says, 'It's a surprise we got as much as we did.'

SMITH: Doesn't it also illustrate, though, that the Republicans already – even though there's a lame-duck Congress that's still, you know, in power for another couple of weeks – it's the Republicans who are really driving the bus?

DICKERSON: The Republicans are driving the bus, on this one in particular, for these reasons. One, the President didn't have all the Democrats in the Senate to vote with him. And he just didn't have the votes. That was the reality. The other reality is the White House knew that if this all broke down and taxes went up for everyone, the President would get the share of the blame. And without that kind of leverage they had to make some kind of deal.

SMITH: Now, with this being – you know, moving along, as it were, what happens to things like START? Is that still in play? Or what about 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'? Was that hidden under the rug somehow, that might get, you know, might get done by, say New Year's Day?

DICKERSON: Republicans have said unless they get a deal on taxes and continuing funding for the government, another thing on the agenda, they won't play on any of those other issues you mentioned. The President does want to get this out of the way. And – but on that START question, there is some signs that it was going to get some Republican support. Remember it needs 67 votes. But there was late word last night in a report in Roll Call that maybe now that's stalled. Another reason for liberals to be angry, 'You made this deal, and you're not going to get anything else?'

SMITH: John Dickerson, appreciate your expertise. As always, thank you very, very much. Do appreciate it.

DICKERSON: Thanks, Harry.
 

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