GOP Senator Educates CNN Host: 'Your Job Is Not to Convince Me'

When CNN's Carol Costello admitted to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) her inability to convince him that Republicans on the super committee didn't raise enough tax revenue, he simply responded that "your job is not to convince me."

In an interview during the bottom of the 8 a.m. hour, the senator had finished explaining how Republicans had proposed to get rid of tax loopholes.  The proposal had come to the dismay of some conservatives, but Costello lectured him that such measures were still not enough to raise the necessary amount of tax revenue.

"But a lot of people said that wasn't enough. You didn't raise enough revenue. You could have raised more by doing these other things," Costello preached to Kyl. "But you know, I'm not going to convince you. I realize that," she added.

"Well your job is not to convince me," the senator pointedly responded. "No, it's not," Costello quickly corrected herself.

And as she did to conservative guest Grover Norquist, the liberal CNN anchor peppered Kyl with Democratic talking points. She brought up the conservative Grover Norquist, who some Democrats blamed for the lack of agreement, to Kyl. "A lot of voters, though, see that, you included, all the Republicans on the super committee, signed this tax pledge by Grover Norquist's group," she told him.

"And that you went in there and you couldn't negotiate, you know, on a level playing field because you had already made this pledge and you weren't going to budge on it, and you knew that that issue was important to the other side – Democrats," Costello lectured Kyl.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on November 21 at 8:32 a.m. EST, is as follows:

[8:32]

COSTELLO: The elephant in the room was raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, or extending the Bush tax cuts.

(Crosstalk)

KYL: Exactly so. Our Democratic friends said – our Democratic friends said we won't cut one dollar more without raising taxes. I think that tells you a lot about the ethos in Washington. We went into this exercise in order to try to reduce federal government spending. And what we get from the other side is, no, we're not going to make any more cuts unless you raise taxes.

COSTELLO: A lot of voters, though, see that, you included, all the Republicans on the super committee, signed this tax pledge by Grover Norquist's group. And that you went in there and you couldn't negotiate, you know, on a level playing field because you had already made this pledge and you weren't going to budge on it, and you knew that that issue was important to the other side – Democrats.

KYL: But we did budge on it. And Grover was very disappointed in what Senator Toomey and the Republicans offered, which was tax reform which would have resulted in the upper two income brackets paying a higher marginal rate because their deductions and credits, the so-called tax expenditures, would have been greatly reduced in value. That's what all the experts had recommended. They said make the tax code flatter and fairer. Get rid of those loopholes. You can raise a lot of revenue that way. And we did, $250 billion worth. So Grover was not happy with that, obviously.

COSTELLO: But a lot of people said that wasn't enough. You didn't raise enough revenue. You could have raised more by doing these other things. But you know, I'm not going to convince you. I realize that. Um –

KYL: Well your job is not to convince me –

COSTELLO: No, it's not

(Crosstalk)

KYL: – but get some information out.

(...)


KYL: I quoted the President who said you don't raise taxes in a recession.

COSTELLO: Well, but President Obama also wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in this country. He's also said that.

KYL: Well, last year he extended all of the current tax rates, the 2001 and 2003 tax rates. They applied to the wealthier and to the less wealthy.

COSTELLO: He compromised.

KYL: He did that – yes. He did that because he recognized that this was not the time to raise taxes on anybody. And the people in the upper brackets are the ones who create the jobs. And he understood that. Well, the situation is no different today. And that's why we've resisted raising taxes on small business people who need to create jobs.

COSTELLO: I think that voters, though don't look at small business people and their taxes raised. They look at these like giant banks who are sitting on tons of money and they have the money to spend and they're not spending it. So that when they hear you saying that, and I'm talking Democratic voters now and maybe some independent voters, when they hear you saying that, they said, where are the jobs? It's not like these giant corporations aren't making money. They're just sitting on the cash.

KYL: Right. And the fact is coming out of a recession most of the jobs are created by small business. In fact, since 1980 all of the net new job creation has come from small business. A lot of the big businesses in this country have lost jobs, as you know.

(Crosstalk)

COSTELLO: And they're hiring now, small business people.

KYL: Well, no they're not. That's the problem. We still have over nine percent unemployment in this country. And the small business folks are the ones who will be creating the first jobs as we come out of this recession that we are in. So that's why we don't want to raise taxes on them right now.

Incidentally on the corporate side there was agreement by both Democrats and Republicans that we should have corporate tax reform that would take the top corporate rate down to perhaps 25 percent if we can get it there so that our country can be more competitive internationally. On that there was agreement.

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