NBC's Lauer Hits Obama Advisor From Left, Cites Democratic Mayor Calling For More 'Federal Help'

On Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer interviewed Obama advisor David Plouffe and promoted liberal concerns that the administration had not pushed enough government economic programs: "Even the Democratic Mayor of Scranton, Christopher Dougherty, says that he'd hoped for more federal help under this Democratic administration, and it hasn't come."

Lauer further detailed Dougherty's disillusionment with the President: "His words, 'Four years ago it was about hope. Now it's about his record,' referring to the President. How does the President look the people of Scranton, Pennsylvania, for example, in the eye and say, 'I know we talked about hope and change. It hasn't really worked out. I need more time'?"

In response, Plouffe touted Obama's call for an extension of payroll tax cuts: "The President's the first person to acknowledge that and that's why he's fighting so hard to deliver the people of Scranton, Americans all over across the country, tax relief, things that we can do right now to help the economy."

Earlier in the interview, Lauer fretted over Republican opposition to the Democrats' proposal to fund the cuts, by taxing the wealthy: "You know, the Republicans have already said this is dead on arrival, in part because they don't like the fact that it's paid for on the backs of the wealthy. Now, you know the track record here is not good. Republicans have succeeded in blocking these things in the past, so why is the President wasting his time on an effort that's probably not going to work?"

Lauer began the interview by actually asking Plouffe for his thoughts on the latest allegations against Herman Cain: "I want to get you on the record about this....Do you see any scenario under which Herman Cain can return to prominence on the GOP side of things right now?" No Republican appeared on the show to discuss Cain's electoral chances.


Here is a full transcript of the November 30 segment:

7:05AM ET

MATT LAUER: On the Democratic side, President Obama heads to the battleground state of Pennsylvania today, White House senior adviser David Plouffe ran the President's 2008 campaign. Mr. Plouffe, good to see you, good morning.

DAVID PLOUFFE: Thanks for having me, Matt.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Will Cain Drop Out?; Obama and The GOP Race For President]

LAUER: As you know, Lisa Myers just talked about the situation involving Herman Cain, so I want to get you on the record about this. You don't work for him, obviously, but you do know a lot about politics and campaigning. Do you see any scenario under which Herman Cain can return to prominence on the GOP side of things right now?

PLOUFFE: Well, Matt, as you mentioned, I have been involved in presidential campaigns but not Republican primaries, so I'm certainly not an expert there. I'm sure Herman Cain's asking advice from a lot of people. I'm certainly not one of them. So what's clear is this is a very unsettled Republican primary and voting's going to begin pretty soon in Iowa and New Hampshire. There'll probably be some more twists and turns. But what the President's focused on is delivering tax cuts for the middle class and trying to help this economy.

LAUER: Let's get you back to your comfort zone then, and talk about what the President is doing today. He's heading to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to push for an extension of the payroll tax cut. You know, the Republicans have already said this is dead on arrival, in part because they don't like the fact that it's paid for on the backs of the wealthy. Now, you know the track record here is not good. Republicans have succeeded in blocking these things in the past, so why is the President wasting his time on an effort that's probably not going to work?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Tax Fight; Obama and GOP Square Off Over Payroll Taxes]

PLOUFFE: Well, we think it is going to work. Remember, there was a payroll tax cut which was equal to about $1,000 for every middle class family in America that we passed with Republican support at the end of 2010. So you're beginning – there are some Republicans who support this. Many of them have voted for it in the past.

So the question is now, with the clock ticking, are we going to raise taxes and that's what would happen. If we don't extend this payroll tax, every working person in America would see their taxes go up $1,000. That's weeks and weeks of groceries, in this economy people can't afford it. So, and as you mentioned, the way this is going to get paid for, the vote that's going to happen in the Senate this week, this a tax cut for 160 million Americans paid for by asking a little over 300,000 millionaires to pay a little bit more. We think that's fair.

LAUER: So the President goes to Scranton today to make this case. And I want to talk about Scranton as a location. According to The New York Times, unemployment in that city's about 9.7%, the highest in the state. The food bank there served a record number of meals on Thanksgiving. Even the Democratic Mayor of Scranton, Christopher Dougherty, says that he'd hoped for more federal help under this Democratic administration, and it hasn't come. His words, "Four years ago it was about hope. Now it's about his record," referring to the President. How does the President look the people of Scranton, Pennsylvania, for example, in the eye and say, "I know we talked about hope and change. It hasn't really worked out. I need more time"?

PLOUFFE: Well, obviously I would take issue about that. I think change is ending the Iraq war, change is having economic and tax policy centered on the middle class, change is delivering health reform. So we've delivered on a lot of the commitments the President made to the American people.

The economy's obviously, Matt, far too week. The President's the first person to acknowledge that and that's why he's fighting so hard to deliver the people of Scranton, Americans all over across the country, tax relief, things that we can do right now to help the economy. And that's what we have to do.

We have to do things in the long term, reduce our deficit, make sure we're smartly investing in things like education, research and technology, but right now, we have to do some things to jump-start the economy. That's what the President's focused on, cutting taxes for workers, for small businesses, putting construction workers back to work in Scranton. Those are the things Washington needs to be doing right now to help people in Scranton and all across America.

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

PLOUFFE: Thanks, Matt.

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