ABC, CBS Provide Skeptical Looks at Obama's Plan to Spend More, Cut the Deficit; NBC Avoids

Of the three evening newscasts, only NBC's Chuck Todd on Wednesday offered no critical analysis of Barack Obama's call for both new spending and deficit reduction. ABC's Jake Tapper actually investigated the proposed plans and concluded, "...It almost looks like a wash between his new ideas for cutting and his new ideas for spending."

CBS's Chip Reid also highlighted Republican opposition and the fact that the deficit reduction plan doesn't include Medicare or Social Security. Yet, Todd, appearing on Nightly News, simply parroted, "The President was reinforcing a call he made last night for greater investment and innovation and infrastructure to keep America competitive."

He blandly asserted, "For the most part, Republican leaders had nice things to say about the president's State of the Union address, but skepticism remained over the debt and deficit." (The network correspondent also featured a quote from Senator Mitch McConnell calling the cuts "completely inadequate.")

World News' Tapper provided the most thorough deconstruction of the apparent contradiction between calling for deficit reductions and $1.1 trillion in new spending:

JAKE TAPPER: Roughly $60 billion dollars over ten years. Redoubling efforts to improve infrastructure, another $400 billion dollars. Giving 80 percent of Americans access to high speed rail, $100 billion dollars. Total new spending, $1.1 trillion dollars. So, it almost looks like wash between his new ideas for cutting and his new ideas for spending. Even some supporters in Wisconsin today seemed skeptical of this new approach.

Over on CBS' Evening News, Reid alerted, "Republicans condemned the President's so-called investments as nothing more than wasteful stimulus spending."

He also pointed out, "In fact, the President's freeze applies only to 12 percent of the budget, and leaves completely untouched the massive entitlement programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security- that threaten to drown the nation in debt."

None of the information presented by Tapper or Reid appeared in Todd's report.

A transcript of the World News segment, which aired at 6:30EST on January 26, follows:


DIANE SAWYER: Well, even the President felt the weather today, landing in snowy D.C., right here after a day trip out in the country, riding the wave of last night's State of the Union address. President Obama flew to Wisconsin to amp up his message about spending money to make American kids smarter on science education, for instance. But, at the same time, he said he wants to cut the deficit. So, we asked Jake Tapper to give us a reality check on whether the President can have both. Good to see you tonight, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER: Thanks, Diane. We learned today that the federal deficit is projected to be a record setting $1.5 trillion dollars. That is not going to help the President as he goes out to make his case to combine deficit reduction with new spending programs. The Chicago Bears-loving President had his team's Sunday loss to the Green Bay Packers rubbed in during a trip to Wisconsin today. But, he was focused on a different kind of boosterism, continuing his State of the Union pitch on how the United States can win the future and quoting Vince Lombardi

BARACK OBAMA: "There is no room for second place. There's only one place in my game and that's first place."

TAPPER: Which means, the President argued last night and today, taking action to reduce the sky rocketing federal deficit. He proposed freezing some domestic spending, saving some $400 billion over the next decade, ending the lower tax rates for the wealthiest two percent, an increase of $700 billion to the treasury. $78 billion in Pentagon savings. Ending tax breaks for oil companies, $40 billion and banning earmarks, $80 billion. So, roughly, $1.3 dollars trillion in deficit reduction. But, the President also pushed for new spending for innovation.

OBAMA: Tonight, I challenge you to join me for setting a new goal. By 2035, 80 percent of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources.

TAPPER: Overall, one analysis estimates all his clean energy goals would cost $500 billion dollars. Other goals?

OBAMA: I asked Congress to make permanent our tuition tax credit worth $10,000 for four years.

TAPPER: Roughly $60 billion dollars over ten years. Redoubling efforts to improve infrastructure, another $400 billion dollars. Giving 80 percent of Americans access to high speed rail, $100 billion dollars. Total new spending, $1.1 trillion dollars. So, it almost looks like a wash between his new ideas for cutting and his new ideas for spending. Even some supporters in Wisconsin today seemed skeptical of this new approach.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The math is not- it's going to be hard.

TAPPER: Republicans are already attacking President Obama for pitching too much spending and not taking deficit reduction seriously enough. And, Diane, he's also facing trouble with Democrats. Senate Majority Leader calling the proposed earmark ban "an applause line that's only for show."

— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org