At his news conference on Wednesday, President Obama opened with a statement of over 1,100 words, all of it on gun violence, including his announcement that "I’ve asked the Vice President to lead an effort that includes members of my Cabinet and outside organizations to come up with a set of concrete proposals no later than January -- proposals that I then intend to push without delay."
That should reasonably have been expected to put the gun control issue to bed for the rest of the day. How many meaningful questions could reporters possibly pose after all of that (other than the one Jake Tapper of ABC asked, which will be seen later in the post)? But as Ben Sisario at the New York Times's Media Decoder blog reported Wednesday afternoon, that didn't satisfy many media critics, who -- with Sisario seeming to agree -- expected and wanted to see an all-gun-control, all-the-time exercise, and were angry that it didn't unfold that way (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Without even realizing it, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler has done a great service for the conservative movement and the interests of taxpayers. For the first time, we have in one place—citable in a mainstream news source—definitive proof that President Reagan was tricked into agreeing to a phony spending cut/real tax hike deal. The minor detail that the fact checker draws the wrong conclusion is as immaterial as it is expected—for most fact checkers, the Republican is wrong even when he’s right.
We have an excerpt from Reagan’s memoirs. We have a quote from a Reagan nationally-televised speech. We have numbers broken out showing that the deal was, in fact, $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. We have quotations and descriptions of how Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and OMB Director David Stockman basically knew all along that the spending cuts were phony. We have Secretary of Defense Cap Weinberger willfully refusing to implement the phony spending cuts. We have Dole writing a letter to the President desperately seeking to assure him that he didn’t just get his wallet lifted, thank you very much. We even have Jack Kemp as the taxpayer hero, detailing for the President the whys and wherefores of how he got sold a bill of goods.
On the front of Sunday's New York Times, reporters Jackie Calmes and Jonathan Weisman suggested President Obama has a "mandate" for tax hikes in the ongoing tactical battle in Congress over the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts in "Soured History Hampers Talks Between Obama and Boehner."
Last year, Mr. Boehner had the edge as Mr. Obama faced a difficult re-election campaign and needed Republicans’ support to increase the nation’s borrowing limit, lest the government default. Now, after a decisive re-election victory and Democratic gains in Congress, Mr. Obama has the stronger hand. He also made higher taxes for the wealthy a central campaign issue, suggesting a mandate borne out in public polls. And he benefits from a hard deadline, Dec. 31, after which all of the Bush-era tax cuts expire if action is not taken to extend them. Polls show that voters would hold Republicans responsible if no deal is reached in time.
Why is it wealthy liberals don’t understand that if they want to pay more income taxes, they can each year on their 1040 form make an additional contribution to the federal government above and beyond what they owe?
Consider the case of actor Matt Damon who on PBS’s Tavis Smiley Show Wednesday actually said, “I need to pay more taxes” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman threw around hostile labels in his Thursday piece on the ongoing tactical fight in Washington, pitting the "far right" against responsible "pragmatists" in the tactical battle over fiscal policy in "Boehner Tries to Contain Defections on Fiscal Unity."
Speaker John A. Boehner moved Wednesday to maintain Republican unity on deficit reduction talks as lawmakers on the far right openly chafed at his leadership and some pragmatists pressed for quick accommodation on tax rate increases on the rich.
Finally, Grover Norquist was the featured guest on the PBS NewsHour’s segment on the fiscal cliff. After previous editions of the program featured softball interviews with Paul Krugman and Max Richtman -- two members of the far left who oppose entitlement reform -- as well as moderate conservative Republican Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the NewsHour saw it fit to give time to the anti-tax activist who heads Americans for Tax Reform.
Of course the December 12 interview proved to be an occasion for liberal anchor Judy Woodruff to push back hard against Norquist on taxes, firing every possible liberal talking point at him she could. Norquist was adamant that the problem in Washington is spending, not taxation -- giving the president all the tax hikes he wants would generate about only two weeks worth of revenue, after all. But it didn’t take long for Woodruff to argue that the Clinton era tax cuts were the basis for strong economic growth. Norquist stood his ground and noted the role a conservative Republican Congress played in policies that helped fuel economic growth in the 1990s:
Charlie Rose and Gayle King pressed outgoing Senator Jim DeMint on Thursday's CBS This Morning over congressional Republicans resistance to tax hikes. When DeMint stated that President Obama will "probably eventually get his tax increases one way or another", Rose replied, "So, if he will get them, why not get them now and compromise and avoid going off the fiscal cliff?"
Open Obama booster King added the bad polling numbers for Republicans into the mix as she tried to get the senator to surrender to the President's demand: "You released a statement...saying this is not rocket science...with that in mind, why can't we come to terms? The public is viewing the Republican Party very negatively. Are you concerned about that?" Rose later wondered why DeMint was leaving the Senate to head the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Following a report on Thursday's NBC Today in which political director Chuck Todd touted a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, co-host Matt Lauer tried to spin one finding: "...only 53% say they're optimistic about a second term for Obama and 47% say they are pessimistic. Is this really more pessimism about Washington in general?"
Todd accepted the characterization: "It is. You know, you see it in the poll....this is a much less naive public, maybe let's put it that way, after they've watched all of this in Washington. And a full 70% now think that the next year is going to be acrimonious." Todd then portrayed Republicans as embracing such acrimony: "...this is really dangerous in the talks, actually...I talked to one Republican who said, 'How low can we go? We don't have a lot to lose.' And I pointed out, 'But you would have a lot to gain, because the par's pretty low from the public's point of view.'"
Republicans have been forced into a Hobson's choice of either letting the Bush tax cuts expire for everyone or agreeing to a tax hike on the top 2 percent of income earners (not to be confused with "the rich," who have already made, inherited or married their money).
If Republicans object to the Democrats' hitting job creators with a tax hike, three things will happen: Taxes will go up for everyone; Republicans will be seen as the "party of the rich"; and the inevitable economic collapse will be blamed on Republicans.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is rarely at a loss for words, unless what he says is edited by Rachel Maddow.
On her cable show last night, Maddow swooned in response to MSNBC colleague and avowed "extreme left" socialist Lawrence O'Donnell's alleged success in an exchange with Gingrich on "Meet the Press" this past Sunday. (video clip after page break)
In a report for Tuesday's NBC Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd touted President Obama supposedly being nicer to the GOP while in pursuit of a fiscal cliff deal: "Mr. Obama was noticeably less confrontational toward Republicans....The President's softer tone came just a day after he sat down with House Speaker John Boehner..."
While Todd focused on Obama's "softer" side, Monday's New York Times reported on the President's team playing hardball: "The White House is also cranking up the machinery of the Obama campaign to help in the battle. On Monday, the campaign sent an e-mail to its entire mailing list from its deputy manager, Stephanie Cutter....'Who will decide if your taxes increase in just 22 days?' Ms. Cutter said. 'A few dozen members of the House of Representatives, that's who.'"
The first entirely post-election reading from the University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer confidence survey came out on Friday. It was awful. As reported at MarketWatch, the overall index "fell to 74.5 from 82.7 in November," far below expectations of 82.0, representing "the biggest one-month drop since March 2011." Zero Hedge noted that it's the "biggest miss on record" compared to expectations.
Of course, in Establishment Medialand and with the analysts they chose to consult, the plunge has everything to do with the "fiscal cliff," and nothing to do with the reelection of President Obama to a second four-year term or his intensely partisan conduct since then. Sure, guys.
On Monday's CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell seemed unsure about the extent of Tea Party's political influence. During an interview of former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, O'Donnell first indicated that the movement was a potent force: "I want to ask you...about how powerful the Tea Party is. Is the Tea Party holding back House Republicans and Speaker Boehner from agreeing to additional revenues?"
The anchor later hinted the Tea Party's power was on the wane: "FreedomWorks spent $40 million in the last election, and you had less than one-in-four of a winning record on the candidates you backed. Was it the organization, or is the Tea Party weakened?"
As Colonel Kurtz said at the end of Apocalypse Now: “the horror, the horror.” That sentiment encapsulated New York Times Republican David Brooks and syndicated columnist Mark Shields’ reactions to the rejection of the UN treaty on the rights of the disabled in the Senate last week. Brooks called it “embarrassment for the country” – while Shields called it “a profile in cowardice.” Regardless, it seems that both men forget that we have a similar bill called The Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed under George H.W. Bush.
During the segment, which aired on December 7, NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff decided to end her interview with Brooks and Shields on this point:
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on Sunday gave Lawrence O'Donnell a much-needed education on the economic impact of the Bill Clinton tax hikes in the '90s.
As O'Donnell precipitated the exchange, he perfectly demonstrated why MSNBC commentators are far too liberally biased to be invited on NBC's Meet the Press (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Republican strategist Mary Matalin on Sunday asked New York Times columnist Paul Krugman an absolutely marvelous question.
As Krugman spewed typical Democrat talking points about the fiscal cliff negotiations on ABC's This Week, Matalin interjected, "Are you an economist or a polemicist? Just make up your mind" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
President Obama is winning the messaging wars in the "fiscal cliff" debate largely because Republicans aren't even in the game. The GOP leadership in Washington keeps talking as if the issue is deficit reduction, while the president is talking about fairness.
Consider the numbers. Sixty-one percent of voters want to see a deal reached to avoid the big Jan. 1 tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts, and 68 percent want the deal to include a combination of both tax hikes and spending cuts. By a 2-to-1 margin, voters would like to see more spending cuts than tax hikes.
On Friday's front page, New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer relayed the shock retirement of leading conservative Sen. Jim Demint of South Carolina, "Tea Party Hero Leaving Senate For New Pulpit." Steinhauer used her full allotment of "conservative" labels.
Meanwhile, another Steinhauer story bolstered Republican House leader John Boehner against those childish conservatives in his caucus: "....many House Republicans appear to view Mr. Boehner with the same sort of respect that adult children award their parents for the sage counsel they ignored in their younger days." For good measure she called South Carolina "a very conservative state."
Cokie Roberts and other outspoken liberal journalists are "unelected lobbyists" in the very same sense that they charge Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist is. "From her perch at ABC News," as an ostensible journalist, Roberts is agitating for tax hikes, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell observed on the December 6 edition of Fox News Channel's Hannity. Rather than reporting the news regarding the fiscal cliff proposals by both the president and the Republicans, Roberts and other liberal journalists are cheerleading for the president's tax-and-spend plan.
The founder and president of the Media Research Center, Mr. Bozell was on Hannity for the popular weekly "Media Mash" segment. You can watch it in the video embed below the page break:
CNN's Wolf Blitzer said Thursday that the Democratic fiscal cliff plan of raising tax rates on the top two percent of income earners is the "beginning" of a solution.
"But it's a beginning. A billion here, a billion there, it winds up being real money," Blitzer told Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) on Thursday's The Situation Room. Blitzer had already pushed House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to consider tax hikes in a fiscal cliff deal. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Today's starter topic: For the longest time, the 1950s were the subject of left-wing derision. Lately, though, that decade has become fashionable as statists yearn for what they believe to be the much higher (up to 91 percent) tax rate which was imposed on wealthy Americans. Unfortunately for them, this is a pure fantasy. While there were indeed higher tax rates back in those days, due to no cap on deductions, basically no one paid the high rates. And lower- and middle-income Americans paid far more taxes than they do today. Investor Peter Schiff lays out the facts and figures in a must-read article in today's Wall Street Journal.
Sometimes the obvious stops being elusive even to a liberal.
For most of the young millennium, use of the term "Bush tax cuts" by anyone left of center has more often than not been accompanied by the words "for the rich." The pair have been joined at the hip so often that a Google search for them yields more than 5 million hits. (audio clips after page break)
ABC News, which previously mocked the loss of 18,000 jobs at Hostess, now has concern for the unemployed, worrying about those who will lose benefits if a deal on the fiscal cliff cannot be found. Reporter Jon Karl on Wednesday's World News fretted, "Without a deal, unemployment compensation will end for more than two million people who've been out of work more than 26 weeks."
Karl highlighted the case of Melinda Vega, worrying about "her $450 a week unemployment check, her lifeline." However, ABC journalists were less concerned about unemployment when it didn't involve possible tax increases. On November 16, 2012, Good Morning America's co-anchors mocked the bankruptcy of Hostess, passing out Twinkies.
Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) a golden opportunity to prove just how popular President Obama's plan to avert the fiscal cliff is with his member of his own party. But, true to form, Sen. Reid refused to schedule the vote. "Not a single Senate Democrat has stepped forward to support it, and if you look at it you can see why.... It increases taxes," McConnell was quoted by Ramsey Cox in a story filed the afternoon of December 5 for TheHill.com. For his part, Reid dismissed McConnell's push for a vote as a stunt, although just last week he praised the president's plan, suggesting Obama and Senate Democrats were "on the same page."
Unfortunately this development failed to receive any mention on the evening newscasts for ABC, CBS, or NBC, nor on the December 6 morning programs for the same networks. Likewise both the New York Times and Washington Post December 6 print editions failed to report Reid's refusal to schedule a vote.
"Militantly non-partisan" Major Garrett sounded more like an Obama administration flack on Thursday's CBS This Morning as he spotlighted the President's latest P.R. stunt. Garrett noted Obama's plan to visit a northern Virginia middle-class family and claimed that the Democrat was underlining the "self-evident point that if the there is a deal and their taxes aren't raised by about $2,000, they'll be happier and spend more money."
The correspondent also uncritically pointed out how Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner signaled that the White House was willing to go over the fiscal cliff if their demand for higher taxes isn't satisfied.
Once again, CNN's Soledad O'Brien grilled a Republican while giving an easy interview to a Democrat. She pushed Republicans to increase taxes on Wednesday's Starting Point, but, showing her double standard, she let President Obama's former deputy campaign manager attack the GOP fiscal cliff proposals.
O'Brien told Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) that Republicans could "do some kind of a deal now and that will keep us from going over the fiscal cliff? Andthen you can let the tax cuts expire for the wealthy January 1st. It happens. And you can do some kind of a negotiation." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, Major Garrett promoted a thinly-veiled version of President Obama's "Scrooge Christmas" attack on congressional Republicans. After spotlighting how White House Press Secretary Jay Carney maligned the GOP's fiscal cliff solution as "magic beans and fairy dust," Garrett added that the "Republicans answered back – bah, humbug."
The CBS morning newscast, along with NBC's Today, aided the President by failing to point out that his rejection of the Republican plan is a 180 from his position in 2011. That year, the Democrat called for "$1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking tax rates by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions."
During the December 4 edition of the PBS NewsHour, anchor Gwen Ifill decided to give a lofty eight minute and forty second interview to Obama cheerleader and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman so he can try to convince us that the fiscal cliff isn’t that big of a deal. Of course, in his estimation, Democratic proposals for higher taxes and higher spending were serious, while Republican alternatives to tackle the deficit were trivial. In fact, according to Krugman, “Obama is actually very serious in the real sense. It's just the notion he hasn't done anything on entitlement reform is totally unfair. He's done more than anyone has ever done before.”
And that’s why he needs $1.6 trillion dollars in tax hikes and $50 billion in additional stimulus spending to be "serious" about reining in deficit spending?!
One year ago, Barack Obama backed a budget solution that would not "hike" tax rates. Now, the President rejects this plan, an apparent flip-flop only ABC's Jake Tapper reported. House Speaker John Boehner has proposed a plan that increases revenues though the closing of loopholes and the elimination of deductions.
On Wednesday's Good Morning America, Tapper reminded that "what the Republicans are offering sounds a lot like what the President wanted during last year's budget showdown." He then played a 2011 clip of Obama requesting, "Give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking tax rates by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] CBS This Morning and NBC's Today both ignored this quote.
On Wednesday's NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd proclaimed that despite fiscal cliff negotiations being "in such a bad state," one bit of "good news" was that House Republicans "realize they don't have much leverage right now" and predicted they would eventually sign on to tax hikes proposed by President Obama. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Moments later, co-host Savannah Guthrie declared: "Speaker John Boehner is probably in the most unenviable position because he has to get the deal, he has to sell it to the far right of his caucus in the House. Can he get that deal?"