CBS Lobbies Senator Corker to Renege on Anti-Tax Hike Pledge, Raise Capital Gains Tax

Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell sung from the same liberal sheet music on Monday's CBS This Morning as they tried to get Republican Senator Bob Corker to commit to higher federal taxes. Rose wondered if the Corker was "prepared, as others are doing, to...say, I'm going to forgo the [anti-tax hike] pledge because it is outdated and the country's problems are too big." O'Donnell asked the Tennessee politician if he was "willing to also raise the capital gains rate."

O'Donnell also cited "independent analysis" by the Tax Policy Center, but omitted that it is a project of two liberal organizations - the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

Rose led the segment with his question about the tax pledge from Americans for Tax Reform, led by a favorite bogeyman of the left, Grover Norquist. Senator Corker replied, in part, that he's "not obligated on the pledge. I made Tennesseans aware...that the only thing I'm honoring is the oath that I take...when I'm sworn in this January....I've laid out a bill, Charlie, that's 242 pages long. In other words, it's not long. It's got a trillion dollars in revenues. Obviously, it has real entitlement reform, which is the other side of this equation."

Moments later, O'Donnell cited the Tax Policy Center's so-called "independent" number-crunching:    

O'DONNELL: ...Everyone acknowledges you need about $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years. You don't want to raise taxes. You want additional revenue by, essentially, capping deductions at $50,000. Independent analysis by the Tax Policy Center says that only gets you about $760 billion. It's not enough money, so how do you get more revenue?

The Republican senator answered by outlining that his plan did have $1 trillion in revenues. The CBS anchor followed-up with her call for a higher capital gains rate. Corker refused to give a direct answer to the question:

CORKER: Well, you know....I'm not the negotiator sitting at the table. I'm open to – to solving this problem, and what I've done, Norah - in a 242-page bill - is show both the White House and Republican negotiators that this, technically, is very easy to do. It's much easier to go ahead and decide what we're going to do now than to try to craft some bill that lays out a process for us to do this next year. So, look, I think I've shown a willingness to compromise and solve this problem...and what I'd like to see is...Boehner and Mitch McConnell and the President sit down, as they've all said they want to do, and create a package that all of us can get behind and move – move away from this.

Both CBS morning show anchors have a track record of badgering conservative/Republican politicians, while tossing softballs at liberal/Democratic ones. Back in September 2012, Rose and O'Donnell let Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin forward the Democrats' talking points against Mitt Romney on ObamaCare. They also just prompted him for his take on the Chicago teachers' strike that was underway at the time.

The full transcript of the Bob Corker interview on Monday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: In this morning's Washington Post, as Major [Garrett] mentioned, Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee calls on Congress to settle the fiscal cliff with a long-term deal. He writes – quote, 'Kicking the can down the road is misguided and irresponsible and shows a lack of courage.'

Senator Corker, good morning.

SEN. BOB CORKER, (R), TENNESSEE: Good morning. Hi, Charlie.

[CBS News Graphic: "Fiscal Cliff-Hanger: TN Senator Calls For 'Political Courage'"]

ROSE: It's good to have you here. Are you prepared, as others are doing, to, sort of, say, I'm going to forgo the pledge because it is outdated and the country's problems are too big?

CORKER: Well, I'm not obligated on the pledge. I made Tennesseans aware - I was just elected - that the only thing I'm honoring is the oath that I take when I serve – when I'm sworn in this January. So, look, I've laid out a bill, Charlie, that's 242 pages long. In other words, it's not long. It's got a trillion dollars in revenues. Obviously, it has real entitlement reform, which is the other side of this equation. But no Congress in history is more prepared to make these decisions. We've had two dry runs. We've litigated this. We've gone through every single score of every single decision that would have to be made, and the last thing we need to do right now is kick the can down the road or create some process for next year-

ROSE: Can you do that in – between now and-

CORKER: Oh, absolutely-

ROSE: January 1?

CORKER: Charlie – Charlie,  there's a menu of options on the revenue side and on the entitlement side, and as long as there are two parties that are willing to solve this problem, this is a very easy thing to do technically. What it takes is political courage, and what I've seen around here is a lot of folks constantly want to make tough decisions later and down the road. But the easiest and best thing we can do for this country, is to go ahead and rip the Band-Aid off - make these decisions - and in January, we'll see an economy that will take off. We can focus on the greatness of this country January 1 if we go ahead and do the work that we all know we have plenty of time to get done this year.

[CBS News Graphic: "Reducing Deficit: Preferred Approach: 85%: Mostly/Equally With Spending Cuts; Margin of Error: +/- 4% Pts.; Source: USA Today/Gallup Poll. Nov. 9-12"]

NORAH O'DONNELL: Senator, Norah O'Donnell here. Let's talk about this-

CORKER: Hello, Norah-

O'DONNELL: Hi. Let's talk about the specifics of your plan. Everyone acknowledges you need about $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years. You don't want to raise taxes. You want additional revenue by, essentially, capping deductions at $50,000. Independent analysis by the Tax Policy Center says that only gets you about $760 billion. It's not enough money, so how do you get more revenue?

CORKER: Well, the package that I've laid out has over a trillion in revenues. It has the 750 you just alluded to, but we also do chained CPI, and in that, you not only reduce the rate at which benefits grow, but it also moves people into brackets more quickly. Also, Social Security was set up to capture 90 percent of the wages in our country. Now, it's at 84 percent. If you move that up gradually through 2050, it generates a lot more revenue. So, there's over a trillion dollars in this package. And, Norah, I don't know of a Republican who's actually written a bill that has over a trillion dollars in revenues, but – it does, but it's coupled with real entitlement reform, and those are the two ends of the spectrum, and it takes two parties that are willing to sit down and really deal with this issue to make this happen. It's that political courage that we need,  not – not worries about whether we can technically make this happen or not.

[CBS News Graphic: "Most Likely to Compromise: Democrats Or Republicans? Neither, 34%; Both Equally, 26%; Margin of Error: +/- 4% Pts.; Source: USA Today/Gallup Poll. Nov. 9-12"]

O'DONNELL: I hear you, and you're trying to move the ball forward-

CORKER: That's right-

O'DONNELL: Let me ask you: would you be – would you be willing to also raise the capital gains rate?

CORKER: Well, you know, I'm not – I'm not the negotiator sitting at the table. I'm open to – to solving this problem, and what I've done, Norah - in a 242-page bill - is show both the White House and Republican negotiators that this, technically, is very easy to do. It's much easier to go ahead and decide what we're going to do now than to try to craft some bill that lays out a process for us to do this next year. So, look, I think I've shown a willingness to compromise and solve this problem - put this in the rearview mirror, start next year focusing on the greatness of this nation - and what I'd like to see is – is leader Boehner and Mitch McConnell and the President sit down, as they've all said they want to do, and create a package that all of us can get behind and move – move away from this.

ROSE: Can you get-

CORKER: And I think they're going to do that. I think they're going to do that.

ROSE: That was my question: can you get the Republican leader on board on your plan - Mitch McConnell?

CORKER: Look – well, look, again, I don't want to – this is not so much focused on my plan. This – this plan can be improved, and Norah threw something out just a minute ago. What I hope that all of you who influence our country and influence the decision-makers is, I hope you will not give us a pass. People are saying, oh, this is too difficult to do this year. The fact is, again, we have all the information we need. No Congress is more informed. We created this fiscal cliff. We should solve it. I'm seeing a willingness – willingness on behalf of the White House and Speaker Boehner to sit down, and as long as we have two parties who are willing to do this and have the courage to address these issues, we can do this over the next three or four weeks with ease, and I hope that's what's going to happen.

ROSE: Thanks, Senator-

O'DONNELL: Yeah. Thank you, Senator. We hope to have you back-

CORKER: Thank you, thank you-

O'DONNELL: Thank you so much.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center