ABC Highlights Victims of Obama's Budget Plan, CBS Touts New Spending as 'Investments'

The three nightly news broadcasts on Monday touted Barack Obama new spending as "investments," highlighted victims of White House cuts and ignored key facts about the President's 2012 budget.

Evening News reporter Chip Reid used the preferred White House language, asserting, "But the President unveiled his budget at a technology school to highlight new investments, especially in education and innovation, including funding for 100,000 new math and science teachers, $32 billion for biomedical innovation and a doubling of funding for green energy research."

On ABC, Jake Tapper pointed out that the White House budget adds seven trillion dollars to the debt over the next decade. But, he also found a victim of the White House's planned cuts. Tapper identified University of Colorado Junior Derrick Dash as someone who "pays tuition with help from the Pell Grant program for low income students and he was planning on enrolling in summer classes."

Obama's 2012 budget would eliminate Pell Grants for summer classes, in addition to charging more for student loans. According to Tapper, "That would save the budget $89 million over ten years. Bad news for Dash."

Perhaps Mr. Tapper found Dash in the Daily Camera Online, a Boulder newspaper which also featured Dash:

The Pell grant -- federal money for the most financially needy college students -- has helped Derek Dash stave off student loans.

...

Student advocates are celebrating the U.S. Department of Education's announcement this month that the maximum federal Pell grant award will remain flat at $5,500 next school year instead of being reduced amid tightening budgets. At CU-Boulder, an increasing number of students -- both in-state and out-of-state -- are Pell-eligible, and dependent on the money.

The victim featured in Tapper's story  told the Daily Camera Online that he hoped to one day argue for more federal spending: "Dash wants to work on lobbying for higher education funding in Colorado upon graduation. He said that reducing Pell grant aid would have a negative impact, because it may cause students to drop out of college, nullifying the grant money they had received."

Tapper did explain of the proposed budget, "But even with all the cuts, the President would add seven trillion dollars more in new debt over the next decade." He added, "But, at no point in the ten year protection in his budget- in his budget does the government spend less than it takes in."

The additional seven trillion dollars went unmentioned in Nightly News correspondent Savannah Guthrie's report.  Instead, she noted, "Some progressives are dismayed to see favorite programs like Teach for America facing dramatic cuts." She did feature Republican Paul Ryan complaining "ducking" a serious discussion of the debt.

Unlike Nightly News, CBS's Reid highlighted the same point as Tapper. He insisted, "Over the decade, the President`s budget would add another $7.2 trillion to the national debt."

A transcript of the Jake Tapper segment, which aired on February 14, follows:

DIANE SAWYER: Voters sent a message to Washington: Cut government spending. Stop running up debt. Well, in ordinary language, you might say today is the day the rubber hit the road. The President delivered his cuts in his 2012 budget, saying he's made tough choices. But, Republicans said, "not enough." So, what is on the chopping block and will it begin to get the country out of debt? Jake Tapper starts us off at this big day at the White House. Jake?

JAKE TAPPER: Good evening, Diane. Well, in his $3.7 trillion budget proposal, the President promises pain. University of Colorado Junior Derrick Dash pays tuition with help from the Pell Grant program for low income students and he was planning on enrolling in summer classes.

DERRICK DASH: The credits we were receiving then are the credits that are just as good during the spring or fall.

TAPPER: But in his 2012 budget, President Obama proposes eliminating Pell Grants for summer classes, as well as charging more for graduate student loans. That would save the budget $89 million over ten years. Bad news for Dash.

DASH: If Pell Grants weren't available to me, I'd probably be taking out student loans and be incurring some debt.

TAPPER: That cut is one of the tough choices President Obama says his budget makes.

BARACK OBAMA: If we're going to walk the walk when it comes to fiscal discipline, these kinds of cuts will be necessary.

TAPPER: Another painful cut, $2.5 billion from a program providing home heating assistance for the poor. There are currently a record 8.9 million households seeking that assistance, a number that has gone up for the last three years. States would lose money for airports, water treatment plants and other infrastructure. Cities and counties would lose funding for low income housing and anti-poverty programs. And then there are the President's plans to increase taxes. The President would end the Bush tax cuts for income over $200,000 a year and for those same people cut how much they can deduct for mortgages and charitable giving. The White House is pushing increased spending in some areas.

JACOB LEW (Dir., Office of Management and Budget): We need to invest in areas where if we don't invest, it will undermine the ability to generate economic growth in the future.

TAPPER: Education, high speed rail, internet, infrastructure and clean energy.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: The people who voted for a new direction in November have a five word response: We don't have the money.

TAPPER: But even with all the cuts, the President would add seven trillion dollars more in new debt over the next decade. Diane, just last month in his State of the Union address, the President said, "Our government spends more than it takes in. That's not sustainable." But, at no point in the ten year protection in his budget- in his budget does the government spend less than it takes in.

— 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