"Good Morning America" correspondent Claire Shipman on Tuesday actually suggested that Americans "pitch in" $2000 to help pay off the deficit or even give up their lattes. Reporting on the news that the U.S. federal deficit is projected to rise to $482 billion in 2009, Shipman seriously proposed: "Now, we came up with a few GMA solutions to try to put this in perspective. If every American were to pitch in $2,000, we could pay off this year's deficit."
Continuing the absurd "solutions," Shipman elaborated, "Or, if we handed over, each of us, 500 gallons of gasoline or, in terms we could all really understand, if every American gave up 666 lattes for a year, we could pay off this year's deficit." Leaving aside the slightly demonic 666 suggestion, there was one piece of advice left out of the ABC reporter's piece: At no point did she talk about wasteful government spending or the possibility of cutting back on entitlement programs. Shipman also took a shot at President Bush, calling the deficit "a parting gift from one president to the next of the most unwelcome sort." Conservatives may have complained about some of Bush's spending, but he certainly didn't act without the help of many Democrats in Congress.
The GMA correspondent also highlighted clips from an upcoming deficit documentary called "I.O.U.S.A." The film features interviews with liberal billionaire Warren Buffett, disgruntled ex-Bush administration official Paul O'Neill and Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. The segment featured a snippet of the documentary with O'Neill whining, "The vice president told me that we don't have to worry about deficits. I got fired for having a difference of opinion." Although the film's website describes the movie as "consummately nonpartisan," Reuters has asserted, it "may be to the U.S. economy what 'An Inconvenient Truth' was to the environment."
"Good Morning America" is hardly in a position to complain about deficits. This is the program that has repeatedly featured segments designed to promote costly universal health care. On June 18, 2007, co-host Diane Sawyer declared, "Well, today we are announcing a GMA commitment to take a hard look at the health insurance industry, to get some answers about those policies we keep hearing about, about what happens to sick people in a time of need." On February 20, 2007, co-host Robin Roberts slammed the insurance companies as greedy.
What would ABC suggest if America adopts universal health care? Tax increases in the form of $4000 donations from Americans? More cutting back on coffee? Perhaps GMA could worry a little more what the government is doing to waste money and a little less about asking Americans to skip their lattes.
A transcript of the July 29 segment, which aired at 7:07am, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: In the headlines this morning, another projection of a huge federal deficit. The White House says it is going to balloon to half a trillion dollars in 2009, setting a new record. Numbers hard to comprehend. So, what does this mean for average Americans? We asked GMA senior correspondent Claire Shipman to spell it out for us this morning. Claire?
CLAIRE SHIPMAN: Good morning, Diane. Well, first of all you should know this reverses what had been a downward trend in deficit spending for the last couple of years. Part of it is because of a big stimulus package that is supposed to help the economy, but that is not the only reason it's so big and it's reached a level that has economists worried. Call it a parting gift from one president to the next of the most unwelcome sort.
ABC GRAPHIC: Record High Deficit: What does it Mean For You?
JIM NUSSLE (Director of Office of Management and Budget): The deficit is projected to rise to $482 billion.
SHIPMAN: Oh, yes, deficit spend something back again, big time. And that number, should we play it again?
NUSSLE: The deficit is projected to rise to $482 billion.
SHIPMAN: --Is a record. The biggest deficit in history since $413 billion in 2004. But guess what? The real number is even bigger. A few things left out of the creative White House accounting, the war, unemployment costs, Medicare fees, the new housing bill. Bringing the grand total to about $600 billion.
DAVID WALKER (CEO, Peter G. Peterson Foundation): If we can start making tough choices sooner rather than later and work on a bipartisan basis, we can defuse the ticking time bomb. And if we don't get it, I think it's probably only a matter of time before we face a real economic crisis.
SHIPMAN: David Walker is the Paul Revere of deficit doom. A documentary out next month "I.O.U.S.A" features him trying to jolt the country into alarm another with over financial heavyweights.
PAUL H. O'NEILL (Former Treasury Secretary) : The vice president told me that we don't have to worry about deficits. I got fired for having a difference of opinion.
SHIPMAN: The filmmakers hope to make the deficit a campaign issue but it's a tough message. Americans, well acquainted with brutal home accounting these days, know what the deficit means.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN ON THE STREET: We make a certain amount and we spend a certain amount so it's the difference between the two.
SHIPMAN: But, what to do?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN ON THE STREET: I don't know. Either make more or spend less.
SHIPMAN: What does it mean for these two? [Pictures of Obama and McCain.] They'll have a harder time making good on campaign promises for one thing. They may both have to consider dialing back tax cuts. Now, we came up with a few GMA solutions to try to put this in perspective. If every American were to pitch in $2,000, we could pay off this year's deficit. Or, if we handed over, each of us, 500 gallons of gasoline or, in terms we could all really understand, if every American gave up 666 lattes for a year, we could pay off this year's deficit. Robin?