David Gregory on Sunday finally got an answer to his question about extending the Bush tax cuts, but it certainly wasn't what he was expecting.
For those that have been watching "Meet the Press" this month, the host has been grilling his conservative guests about this issue ever since former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told him on August 1 that tax cuts don't pay for themselves.
Having badgered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about this earlier in the program with no success, Gregory broached the subject with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey in a subsequent segment.
With a hanging curveball coming into his wheelhouse, Armey whacked a long drive that still hasn't landed (video follows with transcript and commentary):
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: I want to, I want to address the tax debate . And what you hear from Republican leaders is an unwillingness to pay the bill as you move forward to extend the Bush tax cuts .
FORMER REPRESENTATIVE DICK ARMEY (R): Not at all.
MR. GREGORY: Is that wrong? You heard Alan Greenspan say that it's borrowed money ...
REP. ARMEY: No. Right.
MR. GREGORY: ...and that they do not pay for themselves.
REP. ARMEY: Where has Alan Greenspan been? John -- I, I was a young undergraduate watching all my faculty celebrate the genius of John F. Kennedy as he taught us you cut taxes , revenues increase. Reagan cut taxes , revenue doubled. What -- the first, most important, critical thing for the American economy is to cut the size of the federal government. This is a big, fat, sloppy, inefficient, obstructionist, Porky Pig that's standing in the way of economic progress for the American people. It is counterproductive. It's an extra weight. It is -- and it needs to be cut or this economy can't carry the weight. This is no thinking...
Now, that's the way to hit a hanging curveball!
With the crowd still on its feet, Gregory turned to his liberal guest for her view:
MR. GREGORY: This is the argument.
GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D-MICHIGAN): Just quickly -- this is the argument, and it's a 20th century argument, it's not a 21st century argument. When we're competing in a global economy , the government has to partner with the private sector to create jobs. If you just slash spending, you slash the investments in the things that are going to move our economy forward, we miss out. Just very quickly, last year, the vice president came to Michigan , said we were going to get all these battery grants; we created -- we have 16 companies now in Michigan just in the past year because we partnered with the private sector creating 62,000 jobs. Strategic investment with the private sector is what works in the 20th century.
Actually, Granholm was playing rather fast and loose with the facts. As MLive.com reported on July 27 in an article titled "Experts Warn 'Battery Bubble' Could Burst Michigan's Dreams":
Michigan and the federal government have placed a multibillion dollar bet that advanced batteries and electric vehicles will someday power the state and national economies.
But experts at a National Academy of Sciences conference on the future of batteries, held here Monday, said the bet could go bust if consumers don't buy those vehicles. And no one knows if they will. [...]
The Obama administration last year allocated $2.3 billion in stimulus funds to help develop the nascent advanced battery industry. More than half of that money -- $1.35 billion -- was awarded to Michigan companies and organizations.
Much of the money is being spent on research and development, and on the manufacturing of advanced batteries.
Michigan has supplemented that with lucrative tax credits for companies manufacturing cells and battery packs in the state.
And those 62,000 jobs Granholm said were already created?
Gov. Jennifer Granholm said the state expects to create 62,000 new battery jobs in Michigan over the next 10 years.
Ah. So, with unemployment currently at 13.1 percent in her state, these are jobs Granholm hopes will be created in the next ten years.
But that's not what she told Gregory on Sunday. Sadly, he let her get away with it, although he did ask a good follow-up question:
MR. GREGORY: But should the Democrats be raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans during a recession?
Understanding her previous faux pas concerning jobs "created," listen to her answer:
GOV. GRANHOLM: It's -- the question is, should the tax cuts expire for the wealthiest 2 percent so that we can make the investments that will grow jobs? Yes. That's the most effective way of creating job growth. The CBO has said that cutting taxes for the wealthiest 2 percent is the most ineffective way of creating job growth.
Yep. The most effective way of creating jobs is to tax employers so the government can get the money rather than employees. Of course, what folks like Granholm and the current White House resident do is then claim they "saved" or "created" jobs regardless of any real impact to payrolls or unemployment.
Pretty neat, huh?
Fortunately, Armey was having none of this:
REP. ARMEY: I'll give you, I'll give you anywhere from -- a minimum of $2 trillion to a possible $8 trillion worth of real stimulus of the economy from the private sector if we can just relieve the private sector that's sitting on its cash from the fear that this administration 's going to screw up the future of this economy. Let them understand this administration 's going to stand down from any new cockamamy ideas and not raise taxes and take away the return on an investment, and they'll put that cash to work in America.
MR. GREGORY: I'm going to make that the last word.
So am I.