NBC Hosts Fret Obama Had to 'Give In' to GOP With 'Not Balanced' Debt Deal

In an interview with White House advisor David Plouffe on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer worried about liberals being unhappy with the proposal deal on the debt ceiling: "So did the President compromise here, David, or did he give in simply so that he wouldn't be labeled as the president who was on duty as the nation defaulted on its financial obligations?"

Plouffe defended the plan: "Now, listen, you're obviously seeing some criticism from my party, you're seeing some criticism from the Republican Party. But what this does is first of all we get significant deficit reduction..." Lauer continued to hit from the Left: "The President clearly wanted more revenues, he wanted to raise taxes on wealthiest Americans, he wanted to get rid of some tax cuts for corporations. Those are not in there. Is the fight over taxes over and did the President lose it?"

Lauer lamenting the lack of tax hikes in the initial debt deal mimicked Meet the Press host David Gregory, who interviewed Plouffe on Sunday and declared: "But it's not going to be balanced. There's no tax increases in this....You – the President said it had to have tax increases, it must – had to be balanced....That's not what's in this deal."

Plouffe explained to Gregory: "Well, listen, this committee's going to be charged with coming up with additional deficit reduction. There's no way to do it without smart entitlement reform and tax reform." Gregory replied: "So you only get to do potential tax increases as part of a second stage of spending cuts that a committee has to agree to?"


Here is a full transcript of Lauer's August 1 interview with Plouffe:

7:05AM ET

MATT LAUER: David Plouffe is senior White House adviser to President Obama. David, good to see you, good morning.

DAVID PLOUFFE: Good morning, Matt.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Compromise or Compromised? Debt Debate Reached With Key Decisions Delayed]

LAUER: Hearing a lot of people this morning talking about a done deal, and yet it is really not a done deal until Congress votes on this. There are some unpredictable caucuses in the House, for example. What's your level of confidence?

PLOUFFE: Well obviously, that's going to be up to each member of Congress, to decide how they're going to vote on this. I think the Congressional leaders in both parties ended up moving forward here based on both comfort with the substance of this, which was a compromise obviously, where both parties did not get everything they wanted, but also with some sense that it's going to be passed. But obviously, each member's going to have to evaluate this. But we think at the end of the day this is an agreement that will pass the Senate and the House, and the President will sign into law.

LAUER: You're hearing a lot about compromise. I think everybody wants to be able to stand up and say, 'Hey, we got some of what we wanted and we compromised for the good of the nation.' But I want to play you something that Emanuel Cleaver, the Democratic Congressman from Missouri, had to say about the nuts and bolts of this. Listen to this.

EMANUEL CLEAVER: If I were a Republican, I would be dancing in the streets. I don't have any idea what the Republicans wanted that they didn't get.

LAUER: So did the President compromise here, David, or did he give in simply so that he wouldn't be labeled as the president who was on duty as the nation defaulted on its financial obligations?

PLOUFFE: Now, listen, you're obviously seeing some criticism from my party, you're seeing some criticism from the Republican Party. But what this does is first of all we get significant deficit reduction, about $1 trillion on the front end. As the President said last night, those spending cuts are phased in carefully over time to not affect the economy too adversely.

Secondly, we have an opportunity this fall, Congress does, to do a next stage of deficit reduction. And in that stage, things like entitlement reform, tax reform are going to be looked at. And as has been reported, there's a enforcement mechanism, so that if Congress doesn't act, there's additional spending reductions, but those are done carefully. 50% of those savings would come from defense and programs like Medicaid, college loans, children's health care would be protected.

LAUER: One of the things you left off that laundry list though is taxes. And the President clearly wanted more revenues, he wanted to raise taxes on wealthiest Americans, he wanted to get rid of some tax cuts for corporations. Those are not in there. Is the fight over taxes over and did the President lose it?

PLOUFFE: Absolutely not. This congressional committee is going to look at tax reform, entitlement form. So this first stage of deficit reduction is deficit cuts, largely identified through a process the President and the Vice President led. And our point was things like Social Security, cuts to Medicare beneficiaries, Medicaid, we did not think those should be part of the deficit  reduction package without tax reform. So none of those things are in this initial package and that's what the debate in the fall is going to be about.

LAUER: But Speaker Boehner has said that in his opinion, raising taxes in the second phase of this plan is nearly impossible. Would you agree with that?

PLOUFFE: No, that's just not true. And obviously in our discussions with Speaker Boehner, he had tentatively agreed to raise at least $800 billion in revenue. You see a lot of Republican senators, business leaders throughout the country, saying we need a balanced package. So I think that's the case the President's going to make. That if we're going to do additional deficit reduction in the fall, it should be tax reform, closing loopholes for the wealthy and big corporations.

And the good thing about this debt ceiling debate, hopefully – though, you're right, it's got to pass – is now we can move forcefully and centrally on to the economy, on the job creation, and this debt ceiling clearly was harming our economy. It was harming consumer confidence.

LAUER: It may have also harmed our image. I mean, because deal or no deal, the way this played out and as long as it played out, has had some impact. David Sanger writes about this in The New York Times this morning. And when talking about this process he says, quote, 'It has left America's creditors and allies alike wondering what had changed in American politics, that a significant part of the country's political elite was suddenly willing to risk the nation's reputation as the safest place for the rest of the world to invest.' So have we been emotionally downgraded, David, even if we have avoided technically being downgrades?

PLOUFFE: Well, I don't think so, Matt. As the President said last night, this was messy. The President last week urged the American people to reach out to Capitol Hill to demand our leaders compromise. I think that was one of the reasons leaders finally compromised. But the President said last week, 'The American people did choose divided government but they didn't choose dysfunctional government,' and there were moments obviously during this process where it looked dysfunctional. So, I think moving forward it would behoove all of our leaders here on behalf of the American people to lower their voices a little bit and be a little bit more earnest in seeking compromise.

LAUER: David Plouffe at the White House this morning after a long weekend. David, thanks for your time, I appreciate it.

PLOUFFE: Thanks, Matt.

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