NBC’s Guthrie on Deficits: $100 Billion Spending Plan No Big Deal, Blame Bush Instead?

Historically, there are two kinds of White House reporters: those that confront officials with the strongest critique and demand a response (think ABC’s Sam Donaldson, who dogged Bill Clinton in the late 1990s just as he had Ronald Reagan in the 1980s); and those who see their job as simply repeating the White House spin of the day.

Reporting this morning on the Obama administration’s push for another $100 billion in spending, supposedly for “job growth,” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie fell into the second category. Rather than amplify the growing chorus of critics who argue that we can’t afford more massive spending when the previous “stimulus” was so expensive and ineffective, Guthrie on NBC’s Today saluted the President for making a “judgment call” that “all economists” could support:
This is a budget where the President makes a judgment call. He's asking for $100 billion to spur job growth, things like tax cuts for small business, tax breaks to increase wages. And he's doing this knowing that it will drive up the deficit, certainly even more in the short term, but all economists agree the real way to get a chunk out of the deficit is to increase hiring.
A few minutes later on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Guthrie additionally seemed to absolve Obama for the big deficits that the CBO confirms are the largest since World War II and growing. She pooh-poohed the plea for $100 billion in new spending as like “the proverbial deck chair off the Queen Mary, in terms of deficits,” emphasizing “built-in entitlement spending” and Bush-era policies: “It's the 2001, 2003 tax cuts that weren't paid for, the prescription drug benefit -- that adds a lot to the deficit.”

Then, perhaps recalling that she’s supposed to be a watchdog on the current administration, not the last one, she added: “But look, the President has played his own role here, too -- need I mention the $787 billion stimulus plan? So look, Republicans and Democrats, the President, this one, the last one, Congress, they all have a role here in why we have these huge deficits.”

MRC’s Geoff Dickens caught Guthrie on the February 2 Today show during the 7am hour news briefs:
ANN CURRY: Also in the news this morning President Obama is heading to New Hampshire today, for a town hall on jobs and the economy. At the same time Congress is opening hearings on his record-breaking budget. NBC's White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie joins us now with more on this. Savannah, what more can you tell us?

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, look, this is a budget where the President makes a judgment call. He's asking for $100 billion to spur job growth, things like tax cuts for small business, tax breaks to increase wages. And he's doing this knowing that it will drive up the deficit, certainly even more in the short term, but all economists agree the real way to get a chunk out of the deficit is to increase hiring. That way, tax revenues would go up, consumer spending would go up. So, that's the rationale the President is making. Now, the middle class is going to get a tax cut out of this for one more year, a $400 per individual tax cut. The wealthiest Americans, those the administration defines as wealthy, over $250,000 a year, they will see tax increases, Ann.

About ten minutes later, after MSNBC's live coverage of the Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Guthrie showed up on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and expanded on the same point:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: The President, obviously, made a judgment call in this budget saying, 'I'll spend $100 billion to try to spur job growth,' knowing that it's going to add to the deficit, knowing he's going to get that headline, 'record deficit,' almost $1.6 trillion. The notion is, of course, if you can spur job growth, if you can get consumer spending up, ultimately you're going to do more to help the deficit. So that's the judgment call that this budget reflects.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: It's a gamble, Savannah. Obviously, if it doesn't work, America's even deeper in debt, more indebted to China, more indebted to others around the world. But is that a gamble the White House felt like they had to take?

GUTHRIE: Well, yeah. I think they felt they had to spend some money on job growth. Of course, let's keep it in perspective here. It's $100 billion he's proposing, which is the proverbial deck chair off the Queen Mary, in terms of deficits. We all know it's the built-in entitlement spending that really drives up our deficits. It's the 2001, 2003 tax cuts that weren't paid for, the prescription drug benefit -- that adds a lot to the deficit. But look, the President has played his own role here, too -- need I mention the $787 billion stimulus plan? So look, Republicans and Democrats, the President, this one, the last one, Congress, they all have a role here in why we have these huge deficits.
Rich Noyes
Rich Noyes
Rich Noyes is the Senior Editor for Newsbusters