Lauer Pushes Pence to Compromise on Tax Deal

On Thursday's Today show, NBC's Matt Lauer pushed Mike Pence to compromise on the tax deal to get the measure passed before Christmas as he hectored the Indiana Republican Congressman that "there are things in this package that neither side likes, but that's the basis of compromise." Lauer even attempted to start an intramural fight between Republicans as he threw the words of Congressman Paul Ryan in Pence's face, as seen in this exchange:

MATT LAUER: You said this is a tough call. How do you think it's gonna go in the rest of the House? Do you think it'll pass?

MIKE PENCE: Yeah I think it is a tough call. Look no, no House Republican wants to see taxes go up on any American. And, and most of us have been fighting to make sure that no American sees a tax increase in, in January. But, for my part, I just believe that this tax cut deal will do little to create jobs. It adds to the national debt. I think we can do better. I think we can take time to do better and Congress should do just that.

LAUER: Even as you make this decision one of your fellow Republicans, Paul Ryan, is criticizing it, saying, "You know what this is a purely political decision." As a matter of fact I think he goes further to say, "It's a purely personal, political decision. That as someone who is being considered or perhaps considering running for president in 2012, you can't be seen as too cooperative with the Democrats or President Obama." How do you respond to that?

The following is the full interview as it was aired on the December 16 Today show:

MATT LAUER: Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence has already announced he will not vote for the tax cut deal. Congressman Pence, good morning to you.

REP. MIKE PENCE: Good morning, Matt.

LAUER: You said this is a tough call. How do you think it's gonna go in the rest of the House? Do you think it'll pass?

PENCE: Yeah I think it is a tough call. Look no, no House Republican wants to see taxes go up on any American. And, and most of us have been fighting to make sure that no American sees a tax increase in, in January. But, for my part, I just believe that this tax cut deal will do little to create jobs. It adds to the national debt. I think we can do better. I think we can take time to do better and Congress should do just that.

LAUER: Even as you make this decision one of your fellow Republicans, Paul Ryan, is criticizing it, saying, "You know what this is a purely political decision." As a matter of fact I think he goes further to say, "It's a purely personal, political decision. That as someone who is being considered or perhaps considering running for president in 2012, you can't be seen as too cooperative with the Democrats or President Obama." How do you respond to that?

PENCE: Well I would respond, look we, my decision is based exclusively on what I think is the right thing to do for the American people. And that is that you gotta recognize a couple of things. First, uncertainty is the enemy of our prosperity. A two year extension of the tax code is not going to encourage the kind of investment that's gonna be, begin to create jobs in this economy. And I really believe that this, this Congress ought to take a breath. We ought to roll our sleeves up and we ought to do what we can, like John F. Kenned y did, like Ronald Reagan did-

LAUER: Right.

PENCE: -and embrace permanent extension of all the tax rates. I'm arguing, you know, let's not do this take it or leave it deal from the Senate. If the liberals want to have an amendment today on raising taxes, let, let every House Republican vote on what we know would help this economy and that is-


LAUER: But it's really not a take it or leave it deal Congressman.

PENCE: -a permanent extension of the deal.

LAUER: It's not a take it or leave it deal because there's compromise in this deal. There, there are things in this package that neither side likes but that's the basis of compromise, and isn't that what's better for the country at this particular moment?

PENCE: Well I think, you know, I hear about the compromise. I know this, this deal was largely negotiated by leaders in the Senate and the White House, despite the fact that the Constitution clearly says that bills relating to taxes should begin in the House of Representatives. But look, bottom line is, this is not about whether or not there was compromise involved. It's about what is it going to take to get this economy moving again? In a two year tax extension that simply takes tax increases that are scheduled for January and says they're gonna come two years from January, is not gonna encourage the kind of investment that will put Americans back to work.

I was in Muncie, Indiana just the other day, Matt, and I, I had a banker walk up to me and say, "Look nobody's gonna come in and sign a five year note and borrow money and create jobs on a two-year tax code." That's the reality. What we're asking for is an up or down vote on making all the current tax rates permanent. I think most Americans know that's what we should be doing, to get this economy moving again.

LAUER: Congressman Mike Pence from Indiana. Congressman, thanks for your time this morning. I appreciate it.

PENCE: Thank you.

—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.