Diane Sawyer Goads John Boehner: Obama Won; Why Won't You Just Raise Taxes?

Wold News host Diane Sawyer on Thursday grilled John Boehner, pushing the House Speaker to support tax increases in the wake of Barack Obama's victory. In a clip played on Friday's Good Morning America, the anchor lectured, "[Obama] campaigned on it. Sixty percent of the voters have said that they are ready to raise these taxes. They are ready to have the wealthier Americans pitch in here." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Reporter Jon Karl reminded that Obama "talked about it in every single campaign speech." In the full interview that aired on World News, Sawyer demanded to know about more taxes: "He campaigned on specific increases in tax rates from 35 percent to 39 percent, for those making more than $250,000. So, is that on the table?...Is it on the table to talk about?"

Repeating the President's talking points, she huffed, "The fiscal cliff is looming. The President has said, 'Do it now, get us get a deal.'" She didn't talk about what compromises Obama will make.

Rather than ask about whether Congress will investigate the murder of America's ambassador and the administration's botched handling of Libya, Sawyer wanted to the details of the painful Republican loss: "What was the first word you said to yourself, when you knew that the president was going to win again?"

A partial transcript of the November 9 GMA segment:

JON KARL: But raising taxes on the wealthy was a central issue of President Obama's campaign. He talked about it in every, single campaign speech.

BARACK OBAMA: [Montage] The wealthiest Americans got tax cuts. Tax cuts. Tax cuts. Try a tax cut. Another five trillion dollar tax cut that favors the wealthy. The wealthy. That's not change.

KARL: In her exclusive interview Thursday, Diane Sawyer pressed the Speaker on that.

DIANE SAWYER: He campaigned on it. Sixty percent of the voters have said that they are ready to raise these taxes. They are ready to have the wealthier Americans pitch in here.

JOHN BOEHNER: I said yesterday that raising tax rates is unacceptable.

[Thanks to MRC intern Jeff Meyer for the World News transcript.]

A transcript of the November 8 World News segment can be found below:


DIANE SAWYER: Tonight, from Washington, D.C., This is a special edition of "World News." An ABC News exclusive. We sit down with the country's most powerful Republican, House Speaker John Boehner. Facing a critical deadline. Will he and the president finally make a deal? Or will this country fall off a cliff of huge tax increases and a new recession? Everyone has said, a disaster is looming.

...

SAWYER: Good evening once again from Washington, D.C., where the election may be over, but the clock is ticking on an issue affecting every American family. And standing at the urgent crossroads, the president and the Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner. There is a freight train bearing down on this country, called the fiscal cliff. It made the stock market so nervous today, for the second day in a row, it dropped. And business leaders have begun to come forward to warn the government there will be serious economic consequences if there's no deal. At issue, the fiscal cliff, a doomsday law that hikes taxes and unleashes a wrecking ball of cuts by January 1st. So, I started by asking Speaker Boehner if this time, he and the now re-elected president are going to make a deal. What was the first word you said to yourself, when you knew that the president was going to win again?

JOHN BOEHNER: It’s the hand I was dealt. I'll play it. And I went to bed.

SAWYER: Right away? How early?

BOEHNER: 11:15. I saw the handwriting on the wall for a couple of hours. And at 11:15, the race was, in my view, finished. I went to sleep. And slept like a baby.

SAWYER: The fiscal cliff is looming. The President has said, do it now, get us get a deal, let us end this grid lock now. Is it going to happen?

BOEHNER: I remain optimistic that we're going to be able to find common ground to avoid this fiscal cliff and find a way to work together.

SAWYER: But by when? By January 1?

BOEHNER: I would hope so.

SAWYER: The president is talking about specific increases; he campaigned on specific increases in tax rates from 35% to 39%, for those making more than $250,000. So, is that on the table? Right now?

BOEHNER: Raising taxes on small business people is the wrong prescription, given where our economy is.

SAWYER: Is it on the table to talk about?

BOEHNER: I made clear yesterday that raising tax rates is unacceptable and frankly it couldn't even pass the House. Putting increased revenues on the table, but through reforming our tax code. And I would do that, if the president were serious about solving our spending problem. And trying to secure our entitlement programs. The president and I have had various conversations. I'm confident that he and I can find the common ground necessary.

SAWYER: So, you will talk about it, even if you believe it's the wrong approach, you'll talk about it.

BOEHNER: Of course we'll talk about it. We talk about all kinds of things we may disagree on. I'm the most reasonable, responsible person here in Washington. The president knows this. He knows that he and I can work together. The election's over. Now it's time to get to work.

SAWYER: And the Speaker seemed confident that after this election, tea party members will be supportive of getting work done. So, I asked, will he still repeal ObamaCare? You had said, next year, that you would repeal the health care vote. That still your mission?

BOEHNER: Well, I think the election changes that, it's pretty clear that the president was re-elected; ObamaCare is the law of the land.

SAWYER: But you won't be spending the time next year trying to repeal ObamaCare?

BOEHNER: There certainly may be parts of it that we believe need to be changed, we may do that. No decisions at this point.

SAWYER: And another question. About a fire brand in his party, the man who ran for Vice President, still Congressman Paul Ryan. Congressman Paul Ryan, is he the leader of the Republican Party now?

BOEHNER: Oh, I wouldn't think so. Paul Ryan's a policy wonk. He's involved in the cause of trying to bring us pro-growth, economic agenda to America and making sure that we're doing this in a fiscally responsible way.

SAWYER: There have been a lot of Republican comments, Rush Limbaugh said –

RUSH LIMBAUGH: I went to bed last night thinking we've lost the country.

SAWYER: We’ve lost the country, we're outnumbered. Al Cardenas has said that the party has gotten, these are his words, too old, too white, too male. Is that right?

BOEHNER: Well, I think what Republicans need to learn is how do we speak to all Americans? You know, not just the people who look like us and act like us, but how do we speak to all Americans?

SAWYER: The powerful Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner. That was just today and I'm here now with Jonathan Karl, who has covered the campaign, coverers Congress for us. What did you hear Jon?

JONATHAN KARL: Well, he said raising tax rates is unacceptable. And let me tell you, there is an entirely different view of that on the other side of the aisle and at the White House. If the president campaigned on one thing, it was raising tax rates on the wealthy. They say any deal that doesn't do that is unacceptable

SAWYER: So, what happens next now? I seem to hear the Speaker saying, you know, we can talk.

KARL: Well, he did. And he wanted to reassure everybody, including the markets that a deal will be done. We're not going to get to the brink. We're not going to get to the point where the credit rating of the country is again at risk. He said he's willing to talk about anything and Diane, he called himself the most reasonable man in Washington. So, I think that he is determined to get something done.

SAWYER: Okay, Jon Karl, thank you.

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