NBC's Guthrie on Ryan Budget: 'Huge Spending Cuts' and 'Massive Tax Cut' for Wealthy

In an interview with Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie slammed Paul Ryan's proposed budget: "And the Ryan budget makes some very hard decisions and has some huge spending cuts....But how can you justify in the Ryan budget defense spending that stays flat and then giving a massive tax cut, which predominantly benefits the wealthy?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

In reality, Ryan's budget does not include "huge spending cuts," but simply slows the rate of growth of government spending. That was a "nuance" that NBC political director Chuck Todd made sure to point out on Monday as he attempted to diffuse Republican attacks on the President for taking Medicare funds to pay for ObamaCare.

Guthrie similarly tried to deflect that attack by interrogating Priebus over Ryan's budget: "The Romney campaign is out with a pretty tough new ad against President Obama today, saying that he has raided Medicare to the tune of $700 billion....doesn't the Ryan plan have those exact same $700 billion in cuts?...The $700 billion in cuts that you are excoriating President Obama for are in the Ryan budget. That's not in dispute."

Notice that Guthrie used the word "cut" to describe the Obama administration shifting funding away from Medicare.

In comparison to her contentious interview with Priebus, moments earlier, fellow co-host Matt Lauer lobbed softballs to Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.


Here is a full transcript of Guthrie's August 15 exchange with Priebus:

7:09AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Reince Priebus is the chair of the Republican National Committee. Mr. Chairman, good morning to you.

REINCE PRIEBUS: Good morning, Savannah.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Republican Chief on Obama-Biden vs. Romney-Ryan]

GUTHRIE: The Romney campaign is out with a pretty tough new ad against President Obama today, saying that he has raided Medicare to the tune of $700 billion. You yourself said on Meet the Press that President Obama has blood on his hands with regard to Medicare. My question to you is, doesn't the Ryan plan have those exact same $700 billion in cuts?

PRIEBUS: No. I mean, What Paul Ryan tried to do and what we're trying to do is something that I think all Americans out there, Republicans and Democrats alike can agree on, which is if we keep going down this road of not having solutions on the table, of demonizing people who put solutions on the table of how to save Medicare, if we keep going down the road of doing nothing, we all can agree that Medicare is going to go broke. And so far-

GUTHRIE: You speak of demonizing people, but let's go back to the initial question. The $700 billion in cuts that you are excoriating President Obama for are in the Ryan budget. That's not in dispute.

PRIEBUS: Paul Ryan's budget and what Mitt Romney is talking about is what we need to do in order to save Medicare for people in this country that are 54 years old and younger.

GUTHRIE: Fair enough. But contains the same cuts, right?

PRIEBUS: Savannah, no. The fact of the matter is, what Paul Ryan does in a budget, which by the way, the Democrats and my counterpart haven't passed in over three years, that we passed a budget to take care of a lot of things that are going wrong in this country. Number one, people are unemployed in this country. The President didn't fulfill his mission in regard to jobs, in regard to the debt and the deficit. If the President was really being truthful and honest with his approach to the debt and the deficit, he would have passed a budget. You cannot get control of the crushing deficits and the crushing debt in this country unless you address the exploding costs that are facing this country in regard to Medicare.

GUTHRIE: Well, let me ask you about that-

PRIEBUS: We're the only ones that have a solution to save Medicare.

GUTHRIE: And the Ryan budget makes some very hard decisions and has some huge spending cuts to get control of the deficit and I think a lot of Americans understand that we have a government we can't afford. But how can you justify in the Ryan budget defense spending that stays flat and then giving a massive tax cut, which predominantly benefits the wealthy?

PRIEBUS: No, that's not true. Because a lot of people in this country, when you talk about this $250,000 cut that the President wants to talk about, we have over 850,000 businesses in this country, small business owners that file as individuals. If you increase taxes on that group of people, it's going to have a crushing blow on jobs in this country. And one thing that this campaign needs to be about, Savannah, is jobs. That's what the President promised. And he hasn't delivered on those. We know that that's true.

GUTHRIE: I know you wanted to talk about tone. Vice President Biden, yesterday, in a speech in Virginia said that the Romney campaign wanted to "unchain Wall Street" and then said to the crowd, "they want to put you back in chains." The Romney campaign said that was wild and reckless and a disgrace. Based on that response, it seems the Romney campaign sees something quite dark in what the Vice President said. Let me ask you directly, what do you think he meant?

PRIEBUS: Well, I don't know what he meant. It obviously, I don't think it was very well received. I don't think it's the type of tone that we need in this campaign. I think it takes things to a new level. A level of just negativity. And I think it was a shameful comment. But it goes with what the Obama campaign is doing right now. They promised they were going to be different four years ago, that they were going to be positive, that they were going to bring people together. And look what they're doing, putting people in chains. Putting out an ad that says that Mitt Romney is responsible for the death of a gentleman's wife after he left a company six years. I mean, this is-

GUTHRIE: In fairness, you used some tough rhetoric yourself, you said the President has blood on his hands.

PRIEBUS: But here's where it's going, Matt just referred to it. We want to talk about the issues. We want to talk about not just the fact Barack Obama didn't fulfill the mission, he didn't fulfill the promises, we can do better in this country. But it's also about the fact that we're willing, I think very boldly, to talk about how do we save Medicare, how do we get our country back on track? That's what this campaign's about. And we're willing to do that. We don't want to go down this road that they're taking us down.

GUTHRIE: Well it is a conversation that will be ongoing. I know we'll talk to you again soon, particularly with the convention. Chairman Reince Priebus, thanks for your time this morning.

PRIEBUS: Thank you.

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