David Gregory Whines: If GOP Doesn't Agree to Tax Hikes, 'Mired' Washington 'Going Nowhere Yet Again'

Talking to "Meet the Press" moderator David Gregory on Sunday's NBC Today, co-host Jenna Wolfe asked about President Obama's proposed "Buffet Rule," designed to increases taxes on the rich, which she assumed "will sit well with the American people overall."

David Gregory agreed but lamented: "...the President's got to think about what he can do to actually get some agreement with Republicans. And I don't see this getting anywhere." Gregory complained: "If Democrats are supposed to cut entitlements, aren't Republicans going to have to give at all on the idea of tax increases?... But we saw in the debt fight in the summer, Republicans would not give on taxes. So if that's the case, then Washington is just going to be mired, going nowhere yet again."

Earlier in the segment, Wolfe asked Gregory about his upcoming "Meet the Press" interview with former President Bill Clinton: "He'll be on to discuss President Obama's $447 billion jobs plan. He's also going to talk about his own thoughts on job creation. How much weight does his insight hold, not just for the American people but maybe for Congress as well?"

Gregory gushed: "One thing President Clinton understands is economic vision. He understood it when he was president, how to frame it for the American people. And there's no question that, both privately and publicly, when he speaks about what the road map should be that people within the party are paying attention."


Here is a full transcript of the September 18 segment:

8:07AM ET

JENNA WOLFE: Now to politics and more troubling news for President Obama. A new poll out shows his approval rating at just 43 percent, his lowest since taking office. He's under pressure from Republican leaders and now many Democrats, as well. David Gregory is moderator of "Meet the Press." David, good morning.

DAVID GREGORY: Good morning.

WOLFE: Alright, David, I'm going to get to those numbers in a second, but first on the show this morning you have former President Bill Clinton. He'll be on to discuss President Obama's $447 billion jobs plan. He's also going to talk about his own thoughts on job creation. How much weight does his insight hold, not just for the American people but maybe for Congress as well?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: It's Still the Economy; Pres. Clinton Weighs In On Obama's Jobs Bill]

GREGORY: Well, it comes at a very interesting time, particularly with a new book coming out that exposes some rancor within the White House, including folks who worked for the former president who have been critical of this president saying, particularly on the economy, that the same mistakes would not have been made when President Clinton was in the Oval Office. So I think this is exposing some tension here that goes back to President Clinton's own criticism of President Obama when he was a candidate back in the primaries.

But one thing President Clinton understands is economic vision. He understood it when he was president, how to frame it for the American people. And there's no question that, both privately and publicly, when he speaks about what the road map should be that people within the party are paying attention. James Carville, his old political hand, has been pretty critical of this White House, saying that they ought to be panicking right now because the link between a bad economy and this Republican field that's making their way toward the President make the President vulnerable indeed.

WOLFE: You mentioned economic vision. It was just announced the President's going to unveil his "Buffett Rule" on Monday, which essentially will tax folks making over a million dollars. I have to assume that will sit well with the American people overall?

GREGORY: Well it may be popular in some polling, but the President's got to think about what he can do to actually get some agreement with Republicans. And I don't see this getting anywhere. We've already heard from the House speaker, who said that the idea of tax hikes as part of this joint committee to tackle the deficit is a nonstarter. And you can say to that, 'Well, wait a minute. You know, then where do we get this conversation started? Who's going to do the hard things.' If Democrats are supposed to cut entitlements, aren't Republicans going to have to give at all on the idea of tax increases? But we saw in the debt fight in the summer, Republicans would not give on taxes. So if that's the case, then Washington is just going to be mired, going nowhere yet again. And there's a lot of pressure now for Congress to do something, both on jobs...

WOLFE: Right.

GREGORY: ...but also on long-term deficit reduction.

WOLFE: I want to ask you about those approval rating numbers that we mentioned earlier. The latest New York Times/CBS Poll showed a 43 percent approval rating for President Obama. That's down 5 percent. It also showed a 12 percent approval rating for Congress, down 2 percent. Is the public dissatisfied with the President or with Washington as a whole here?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Are Americans Blaming the President or Washington?]

GREGORY: Well, both. Both. The President, you know, the buck stops with him in terms of this economy, in terms of overall leadership in Washington, and there were great expectations for President Obama. He's having to deal with the downside of that right now with the economy in this shape. But that point about Republicans is very important. The public blames both sides here. And there is a great desire for action, for leadership out of Washington, which is why the President is preparing in essence to campaign against Republicans if they don't give him any ground on either the jobs bill or on deficit reduction.

WOLFE: Alright, David Gregory. David, thank you very much.

GREGORY: Thanks.

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