CBS Blames Tea Party for Possible Government Shutdown

On Thursday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes portrayed the Tea Party movement as the cause of the budget stalemate in Congress: "With a government shutdown looming, sources say negotiators are homing in on a package of cuts worth $33 billion. That's roughly what Republican leaders proposed last month, before the Tea Party wing demanded that they double their proposal to 61 billion."

Cordes went on to note how "sniping between party leaders is escalating," which was followed by a clip of House Speaker John Boehner calling on Democrats to "have real negotiations" instead of "rooting for a government shutdown." She then remarked: "Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid snapped back that it was Speaker Boehner who had been holding up negotiations, not him." In a sound bite, Reid said of Boehner: "I'm glad he's returned to the conversation. It's obvious that he has a difficult situation on his hands." Cordes added: "The situation he's talking about is the group of Tea Party freshmen Republicans who are insisting that Boehner hold firm on large cuts."    

At no point did Cordes entertain the idea that Democrats in Congress would be to blame for the potential shutdown.    

Concluding her report, Cordes warned that the current budget battle was "only a warm-up for the huge fight that's going to break out next week when Republicans introduce their budget for 2012. It is sure to feature far deeper cuts than the ones they proposed for this spending bill."

Co-host Chris Wragge worried over "what programs are going to get the ax" in the short-term proposal. Cordes replied: "Democrats and Republicans were just trying to get to a number that they could both live with before they figured out what would have to get cut in order to reach that $33 billion."

Here is a full transcript of the March 31 segment:

7:06AM ET

CHRIS WRAGGE: Next Friday the federal government runs out of money and will have to shut down if Congress cannot pass a budget agreement. Negotiations are continuing, but it seems as though both sides are still very far away from a final deal. CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes has the latest from the Hill for us this morning. Nancy, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Shutdown Showdown; Govt. Talks Focus on $33 Billion in Cuts]

NANCY CORDES: Chris, good morning. Well the good news is at least they're negotiating again, which wasn't even taking place for awhile, because the two sides were so far apart. The Vice President was up here last night, even he said they're making progress. With a government shutdown looming, sources say negotiators are homing in on a package of cuts worth $33 billion. That's roughly what Republican leaders proposed last month, before the Tea Party wing demanded that they double their proposal to 61 billion. The talks may be progressing, but sniping between party leaders is escalating, as they attempt to blame each other for a compromise they know many of their members won't like.

JOHN BOEHNER: Pass the damn thing, alright. And send it over here and let's have real negotiations. Instead of sitting over there, rooting for a government shutdown.

CORDES: Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid snapped back that it was Speaker Boehner who had been holding up negotiations, not him.

HARRY REID: I'm glad he's returned to the conversation. It's obvious that he has a difficult situation on his hands.

CORDES: The situation he's talking about is the group of Tea Party freshmen Republicans who are insisting that Boehner hold firm on large cuts. Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh is one of them. He says a shutdown might actually be a good thing.

JOE WALSH: This is the most serious financial situation, I think, that we've had. The American people get that. And so if we need a jolt, if we need the government shut down for a few days for us to really get serious, I think the American people are with that.


CORDES: In a way, these negotiations are only a warm-up for the huge fight that's going to break out next week when Republicans introduce their budget for 2012. It is sure to feature far deeper cuts than the ones they proposed for this spending bill, which will only get us through the end of this fiscal year in September, Chris.

WRAGGE: Ah, this is just the warm-up, huh? Great. Now we're talking about $33 billion in cuts. Any ideas what programs are going to get the ax here?

CORDES: Not right now. Democrats and Republicans were just trying to get to a number that they could both live with before they figured out what would have to get cut in order to reach that $33 billion. And Republicans in particular caution that number could change a lot depending on how these negotiations go, Chris.

WRAGGE: Yeah, that's what we can't wait for, to see how that number they can live with, what that looks like. CBS's Nancy Cordes on Capitol Hill for us this morning. Nancy, thank you.

CORDES: Sure thing.

ERICA HILL: Just the beginning.

WRAGGE: Yes.

HILL: Ah, lots of fun ahead.

— Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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