CBS's Dickerson: Obama Will Make GOP 'Own' Spending Cuts to 'Pay For' Tax Cuts

On Monday's CBS Early Show, political analyst John Dickerson discussed President Obama's strategy against Republicans in Congress, particularly on tax cuts: "[He] said there's got to be a way to pay for it, again trying to put pressure on Republicans to say if you want to spend $700 billion, you've got to find the cuts, make them own those cuts, which are painful and might be quite unpopular."

Earlier, co-host Harry Smith asked about the possibility of Obama and the GOP working together on stopping earmark spending. Again, Dickerson saw the issue as a chance for the President to go after his opponents: "...an opportunity for the President not only to get involved in the conversation but, also, to perhaps drive a bit of a wedge within the Republican caucus, they have different opinions in the Senate, Mitch McConnell has a more favorable opinion of earmarks than say some of the tea party-backed conservative candidates or some House members and the President can say, 'hey, maybe I have a chance to cause a little mischief in the Republican caucus.'"

Here is a full transcript of the November 8 segment:

7:04AM ET

HARRY SMITH: Joining us in Washington is CBS News political analyst John Dickerson. John, good morning.

JOHN DICKERSON: Good morning, Harry.

SMITH: I want to go back to the 60 minutes interview last night. And in case people didn't get a chance for watch it, it's – the entire thing is on the website, it's really worth watching. I'm going to play a little piece of it and I want to get your reaction. Let's take a listen.

STEVE KROFT: Do you get discouraged? Are you discouraged now?

BARACK OBAMA: I do get discouraged. I mean there are times when I thought the economy would have gotten better by now. You know, one of the things I think you understand as president is you're held responsible for everything but you don't always have control of everything.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama's Agenda; Tells '60 Minutes' He'll Work With GOP]

SMITH: It is so interesting because over the last several days – and this was recorded then just Thursday before the President took off on this trip to India and to Asia – as you see him, how are you reading him now?

DICKERSON: Well, he's trying to find a balance, you know, the President has to show he got it, he got the message of the election. But, he's also not trying to deal away all his leverage as president. And so, he's slowly trying to figure out – he mentioned in his trip in India with a meeting with students there's going to be a mid-course correction but in making that change, in recognizing this shellacking, as he called it, he has to still sort of hold some power and leverage and not just say, 'everything that I did for the last more than year and a half was in the wrong direction.'


SMITH: Let's talk about this, then. And what the President and what the Republicans may or may not have in common. Because many of the Republicans were on the Sunday talk shows and they said, 'well, you know, we're going to look for common ground, there are things we may be able to work together on. Let's star with earmarks.'

DICKERSON: That's right. They've said they are happy to work with the President which means at this stage they are happy to have him agree with them. They hold the momentum and the power right now and the President was much, you know, had that posture when he won. It's a good thing when you win. And so, on earmarks, though, the President says, 'I agree with you, let's get rid of earmarks.' And there you can see an opportunity for the President not only to get involved in the conversation but, also, to perhaps drive a bit of a wedge within the Republican caucus, they have different opinions in the Senate, Mitch McConnell has a more favorable opinion of earmarks than say some of the tea party-backed conservative candidates or some House members and the President can say, hey, maybe I have a chance to cause a little mischief in the Republican caucus.

SMITH: Very quickly, Bush tax cuts.

DICKERSON: Well, the President signaled some warming but said there's got to be a way to pay for it, again trying to put pressure on Republicans to say if you want to spend $700 billion, you've got to find the cuts, make them own those cuts, which are painful and might be quite unpopular.

SMITH: I want to move over to another subject entirely, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, will lose that job, she wants to continue as minority leader. If you're a Democrat or Republican – Republicans must be dancing in the streets.

DICKERSON: They are. They used to talk about firing Nancy Pelosi before the election, now they have a sign up in front of headquarters saying 'Hire Nancy Pelosi.' She's not popular and she represents again this notion that Democrats don't get it, they didn't get the message of the election. And so for Republicans, that's wonderful. The fact is in the House for Democrats, the majority of the Democrats support her so there's not much any Democrat in the middle can do. There just aren't those moderate Democrats left in the House caucus to change that vote.

SMITH: John Dickerson on a Monday morning, thank you very much. Do appreciate it.

DICKERSON: Thanks, Harry.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC