CNN's Romans Scolds Dissenting Republicans: 'I'll Tell You Why They're Vilified'

CNN's American Morning co-hosts tried to lecture those opposed to voting to raise the debt ceiling on the error of their ways on Friday morning. When a guest GOP congressman tried to explain why he was voting no, and complained of being "vilified" for his stance, Romans showed him no mercy.

The American Morning co-host accused the dissenting Republicans who voted "no" to Boehner's plan Thursday night of holding the debt ceiling "hostage" to enacting bigger spending cuts. She made sure to emphasize that Tea Partiers and Republicans could be blamed if the economy dives.

"I'll tell you why they're vilified," Romans spat back at her guest, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). "They're vilified because there are two different things here."

"There's the debt ceiling, which is paying for what Congress has already passed and already agreed on, and then there's getting the budget deficit and our debt and deficits under control, which is something else. And you guys are using the debt ceiling as leverage to work on that bigger long-term unsustainable debt story."

Later in the next hour, Romans actually asked guest Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal to explain to dissenting Republicans why not raising the debt ceiling would be a bad idea.

In her interview with Rep. Gowdy, Romans baited the congressman to admit that the terms of the debate at the present were favorable to Republicans and that the Tea Party members should have accepted. "Isn't that enough?" she said of the spending cuts and absence of tax increases.

A transcript of the segments, which aired on July 29 at 7:31 a.m. EDT and 8:34 a.m. EDT respectively, is as follows:

CNN
AMERICAN MORNING
7/29/11
7:31 a.m. EDT

Rep. TREY GOWDY (R-S.C.): Our job is to – or at least I view my job as the congressman for the fourth congressional district in South Carolina, is to vote the collective conscience of my constituents, which is this – we have a $14 trillion problem. The notion of giving the president a clean debt increase was never going to happen, so the issue then becomes what's the best thing you can get in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. Many of us who are labeled or vilified or whatever the proper word is, as "extremists" and "radicals" have already voted twice to raise the debt ceiling. Once in Paul Ryan's budget.

CHRISTINE ROMANS: I'll tell you why they're vilified. They're vilified because there are two different things here. There's the debt ceiling, which is paying for what Congress has already passed and already agreed on, and then there's getting the budget deficit and our debt and deficits under control, which is something else.

And you guys are using the debt ceiling as leverage to work on that bigger long-term unsustainable debt story. You've made a lot of progress. You have got the president on board, with even talking about entitlement reforms. You've got him up to what, three or four trillion dollars in cuts, and you've got a national conversation about living beyond our means. Isn't that enough?

GOWDY: It's progress in the right direction, but I would respectfully say to you if more Congresses has used raising the debt ceiling as a leverage point, then you and I may not be having this conversation. I think it's instructive that five years ago, the president, the vice president, voted no on raising the debt ceiling. So the notion that it is all of a sudden calamitous or that calamitous has a different definition because Republicans are running the House is balderdash. I am happy to raise the debt ceiling. I have voted to do it twice, but I want the 75th time to be the last time.

ROMANS: So you said if you think calamitous is balderdash, I just want to give you a couple, okay, so Credit Suisse says stocks may fall 30 percent if the U.S. defaults. 30 percent for stocks. That means your constituents would see their 401(k)s go down. You have bank presidents, bank CEOs saying raise the debt ceiling this week, please, or we will suffer grave consequences and you have strains already showing up, sir, in the short-term lending markets. The short-term credit markets, companies pulling out billions of dollars because they want to wait and see what's going to happen next. We're already seeing the strains.

GOWDY: Well do this for me, read the quotes of what will happen if our bond rating is downgraded, which is going to happen if we don't bend the spending arc in this country. The dichotomy –

ROMANS: Well I think we all agree on that. So here's the thing, there's two things happening --

GOWDY: Well if we agree on it, then let's fix it.

ROMANS: Well exactly, but fix it in a responsible way. If you don't raise the debt ceiling and suddenly you have a 40 percent cut in government spending, a 40 percent slam-on-the-brakes quickly in the economy. That would have calamitous effects on jobs. I mean, that's not an opinion. That's not editorializing. That is a fact, Congressman. So how do we do it in a responsible way without holding the debt ceiling hostage to it?

GOWDY: Well, here's another fact. The House Republicans have voted twice to raise the debt ceiling. One was voted down in the Senate, the other was not even given the luxury of a vote. It was tabled. So we've done it twice. If the Senate has a plan, they certainly haven't shared it with us. And if the president has a plan, he certainly hasn't shared it with us. What we'll do today, and I predict it will be done today, is for the third time, send a plan that raises the debt ceiling in a responsible way.

The Senate hasn't done it. The White House hasn't done it. I just respectfully disagree with you. Nobody wants a default. I have not met a soul that wants a default. Nor do we want a downgrade, which is coming if we do not bend the spending arc in this country. I happen to think we can do both. We can avert a default and bend the spending arc and avoid a downgrade, and let's don't kid ourselves, a downgrade is just as insidious as a default over the long term.

ROMANS: Yes. I mean, it absolutely is. And we know that the – our deficits and debts are unsustainable. We know that. But the concern here is, and you must be concerned, that you and your – and the Tea Party part of your party and your party, could be blamed if this whole thing goes south because there isn't a political solution in Washington.

(...)

ROMANS: And Congressman, I'll get you there. Even, you know, Ali and I and others have been reporting for years on the unsustainable debt situation. Only this time if it comes down to a downgrade, technical default or real default on our bonds and it ends up costing us more in the end, when fixing our spending actually costs us more because of the way we've gone about fixing our spending then that would just hurt everyone.

(...)

CNN
AMERICAN MORNING
7/29/11
8:34 a.m. EDT

ROMANS: Stephen, I want you to sort of use this moment since you are ideologically aligned with the people who are holding this back to tell them – because many of them are not believing us or anyone else that there are ramifications in global markets if we don't raise the debt ceiling. Could you just try to tell them here in this venue what happens if we don't raise the debt ceiling, what message that sends to capital markets and securities markets around the world?

STEPHEN MOORE, senior economics writer, Wall Street Journal editorial page: I don't think it's the end of the world. I think – here is my opinion on this. I think a bigger danger right now that you all and the press are not focusing enough on, is if we do get a debt deal done and the financial markets say, you know what, this isn't serious, this isn't a serious plan to deal with the debt, that could also spark a financial crisis because people would then say the American political system is not capable of dealing this for – do you know what I mean? Ali, you got to admit that's a risk too.

VELSHI: Sure, but let's clarify for our viewers, because this is something you understand that we didn't, we're not getting clear from a lot of these congressional Republicans who keep on saying we are likely to get a downgrade anyway. The downgrade that we may get because we've been unable to deal with this is a small downgrade from AAA. The downgrade you get by defaulting on a loan – we all agree we're not likely to go down that road – it's a very different kind of downgrade. That is a serious one.

MOORE: I think both scenarios are serious, quite frankly. My preferred solution is to get the biggest cuts in spending that we can with enforceable caps, whether we get there or not. Look, we're going to get two or three trillion dollars of savings over ten years. That's a start but over the next ten years we're going to spend $40 trillion. So, you know, we've got a big debt crisis on our hand and this is only the first step. And don't forget, once we get this resolved we'll be talking – then we're going to be talking about the spending bills that come down in September. So this is like Groundhog's Day, right? This debate over the budget just never seems to end.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014