Fareed Zakaria to Grover Norquist: 'Aren't You to Blame' for Rising Debt?

Apparently, Grover Norquist and the Republican Party are to blame for the rising debt, according to CNN's Fareed Zakaria. In his Sunday interview with Norquist, Zakaria argued that the GOP tax-cutting agenda failed to also cut spending, which led to the country's increase in borrowing.

Zakaria's sloppy logic also revealed itself later when he posed to Norquist that tax cuts didn't necessarily lead to economic growth.

His simplistic analysis was that President Clinton raised taxes and grew the economy, while George W. Bush enacted massive tax cuts and experienced weak growth, and thus tax cuts failed to achieve their intended result – as if no other variables were involved in the results both Presidents were responsible for.

The Reagan agenda failed to achieve spending cuts, Zakaria said. "So what we have had is the kind of perfect expression of what the American people seem to want, which is low taxes, but lots of government services. And there's only way to square that circle, which is to borrow lots of money, which is what we've done for the last 30 years."

"So aren't you to blame for that?" he asked Norquist.

Perhaps Zakaria might admit that networks like CNN should share the blame for America's failure to cut spending. When government programs have been threatened by spending cuts or a government shutdown, CNN has been on the scene to sympathize with those affected by the cuts, even if the subjects are tourists at a national park that would close for a government shutdown.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on March 18 on Fareed Zakaria GPS at 1:15 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

[1:15]

FAREED ZAKARIA: So let me ask you –

GROVER NORQUIST,: Sure.

ZAKARIA: – about the history of the last 20 or 30 years, and ask you whether you feel some responsibility for this. Here's how I see it. The Republican party under Ronald Reagan, and subsequently under Gingrich when confronting George Bush Sr., has pushed aggressively for cutting taxes, no new taxes, many of the kinds of things you've argued for. But it has been unable, for whatever reason, under Republican majorities, under Democratic majorities, under divided or shared government, to cut spending.

So what we have had is the kind of perfect expression of what the American people seem to want, which is low taxes, but lots of government services. And there's only way to square that circle, which is to borrow lots of money, which is what we've done for the last 30 years. So aren't you to blame for that?

(...)

[1:20]

ZAKARIA: Look, as I said, Clinton raised taxes. He got growth. Bush had the biggest tax cuts in a generation, and he got the weakest growth in 30 years. You – you know, you can't – all I'm saying is, as a matter of practical planning for the fiscal future of the United States, your answer can't be, "Well, we'll have more – stronger growth." Yeah. If we grow at 6 percent we don't need to do anything. Everything is solvent, right? But I can't wish for that. We've got to plan realistically.

(Crosstalk)

NORQUIST: We know that if you reduce capital gains taxes you actually get more growth. If we go to full expensing from business investment we'll get more investment. We need to have a – an immigration policy that brings both talent and numbers to the country. We need to have a territorial tax system so that a trillion dollars that's overseas can come back here and create jobs and opportunities here while making the country fiscally stronger –
 

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