CBS: Letting Americans Keep Their Own Money = 'Holiday Gift' From Congress

On Friday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes reported on the passage of legislation to extend current tax rates and described it as: "an early holiday gift for every American taxpayer." She pointed out how "The cost of all that led 112 Democrats and 36 Republicans to vote no."  

Moments later, she falsely claimed: "The bill also cuts the estate tax rate from 45% in 2009 to 35%, a White House concession to Republicans." While tax did exist in 2009, the 2010 estate tax rate was zero, therefore, having any tax on inheritance in 2011 would be a tax increase. Also, the fact that the estate tax is being reimplemented at all is a concession by Republicans, who would prefer it to remain at zero.

Cordes noted how "Democrats tried but failed to strike [the estate tax] from the bill last night." That was followed by a clip of Nancy Pelosi ranting: "Instead, we're giving a bonanza to 6,600 of the wealthiest people in America, who really don't need the help." The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "Done Deal; Tax Cut Bill Passes Over House Dem Objections."

Following Cordes's report, co-host Harry Smith interviewed Democratic New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, wondering: "You have long been opposed to this and at the end of the day, you just decided to just say no. Why?" Weiner claimed he was simply worried about increasing the deficit: "...you reported on the deficit commission's work, the drowning in read ink that we're all doing. Well, in one vote yesterday, we gobbled up all of the savings, even if we had done all of that deficit reduction. We simply can't afford it."

Smith refused to challenge Weiner by pointing out the Congressman's votes in favor of massive spending in the stimulus bill and ObamaCare. Instead, Smith followed up with this: "How odd does it feel to you to find yourself on the same side as some of the deficit hawks?" Weiner replied: "I've always considered myself a fiscally responsible person."

Later, Smith asked about President Obama's potential move to the center: "And as this new Congress comes into office in January, between the left side and the right side of the aisle, which way do you think the President is going to be leaning?" Weiner warned: "I think that the President has to understand that if he reaches out with a finger of bipartisanship he's going to lose an pound of flesh in what he's going to have to give up." Smith didn't fuss over Weiner's unwillingness to compromise, but certainly had fretted in the past over Republicans not wanting to negotiate.

Smith wrapped up the interview by wondering: "Anthony Weiner, does this sound like the beginning of a challenge to the President's nomination two years from now?" Weiner responded: " By me? No." He then joked: "But I understand [weatherman] Dave Price will be looking for a job." Friday was Price's last day as Early Show weatherman, he will be replaced by former ABC weather person Marysol Castro beginning January 3, when a new cast takes over the show.


Here is a full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: Done deal. In a rare late-night vote, the House says an overwhelming yes and passes a major tax cut bill. So, what will the compromise mean to you and your wallet? We'll tell you. And also speak live to one of the Democrats who took on the President and voted no.

7:01AM ET SEGMENT:

REBECCA JARVIS: We go to politics first in Washington, where President Obama and Republican leaders got what they wanted. In a late night vote, the House approved their compromise plan extending Bush-era tax cuts, even after days of outrage from the left and the right. CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill with the latest. Good morning, Nancy.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning, Rebecca. House Democrats bitterly opposed this bill when the White House first worked it out with Republicans but late last night enough of them either got over that opposition or swallowed it, knowing that most likely the alternative was to see taxes go up for everyone.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Done Deal; Tax Cut Bill Passes Over House Dem Objections]

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [CONGRESSMAN]: The motion is adopted.

CORDES: After three and a half hours of debate in a crowded chamber, members of the House voted overwhelmingly to pass the tax bill.

DAVE CAMP [REP. R-MI]: Time has run out. This is our only chance and the harm to our economy and the hit families would suffer is far too great a risk.

CORDES: The bill amounts to an early holiday gift for every American taxpayer. Extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone, including the wealthy, for two years. Extending unemployment benefits for long-term jobless Americans. Giving every worker a 2 percentage point cut in payroll taxes and temporarily extending a raft of tax credits from the stimulus package. The cost of all that led 112 Democrats and 36 Republicans to vote no.

JEFF FLAKE [REP. R-AZ]: $2,136, that's the raise that we're all giving ourselves with this bill. That's the raise that we're giving ourselves and we're borrowing every penny of it.

JAY INSLEE [REP. D-WA]: Let's be honest about what this deal is – a bipartisan deal gone bad.

CORDES: The bill also cuts the estate tax rate from 45% in 2009 to 35%, a White House concession to Republicans, which Democrats tried but failed to strike from the bill last night.

NANCY PELOSI: Instead, we're giving a bonanza to 6,600 of the wealthiest people in America, who really don't need the help.

CORDES: Because this bill is identical to the one that the Senate passed on Wednesday, it now goes to the President's desk for his signature. But, Congress will be having this fight all over again soon because most of these tax cuts, Harry, have only been extended for two years.

SMITH: Nancy Cordes on Capitol Hill this morning. Thank you so much. One of the strongest liberal critics of this tax compromise, Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York, joins us now from Capitol Hill. Good morning, sir.

ANTHONY WEINER: Good morning, Harry.

SMITH: You have long been opposed to this and at the end of the day, you just decided to just say no. Why?

WEINER: Well, for a couple of reasons. First, you know, you reported on the deficit commission's work, the drowning in read ink that we're all doing. Well, in one vote yesterday, we gobbled up all of the savings, even if we had done all of that deficit reduction. We simply can't afford it. Especially when you consider that a lot of the tax cuts we're giving literally are to millionaires and billionaires. Secondly, the payroll holiday, this thing we've heard so much about, if you look carefully at it, they borrow the money for that from the Social Security trust fund, which is a very, very bad precedent. Overall, this was just not a very good deal for the American people, especially for the middle-class and those struggling to make it.

SMITH: How odd does it feel to you to find yourself on the same side as some of the deficit hawks?

WEINER: Well first of all, I've always considered myself a fiscally responsible person. I mean, I simply don't believe that someone who makes a million dollars should get a $116,000 tax cut for Christmas. I simply don't believe that they need it. You know, today in America, 1%, the top 1% of the country makes, as much as the next 25%. We need to stand up for the middle class. I think the very well-to-do have already had their piece.

SMITH: What do you think this bodes for the President and for the new Congress that comes into office in January?

WEINER: I think it's bad. Well first of all, I think it's bad because, as Nancy said in the intro, you know, these tax cuts are going to expire in two years, which is another election year, and I can guarantee you there's going to be an enormous amount of pressure on Congress again to say, 'You know what, it's an election year, let's renew these tax cuts maybe even make them permanent.' If we do that, that would truly be ruinous, it would triple our national debt. And I also think it's problematic because the Republicans turned out to be, frankly, better poker players than the President. You know, they only really wanted two things this legislative session and they got them both, and that was the increase to the estate tax and the increase in tax cuts to the very wealthy. They've got it, now it's just on to the things they want to cut, things like health care and the like.

SMITH: And as this new Congress comes into office in January, between the left side and the right side of the aisle, which way do you think the President is going to be leaning?

WEINER: Well, look, I'll leave it to the pundits to figure that out, but I think that the President has to understand that if he reaches out with a finger of bipartisanship he's going to lose an pound of flesh in what he's going to have to give up. Bipartisanship has to be an ends – has to be a means, not an ends. And I'm not sure the President gets that yet, but I'm going to work hard to try to make him a success.

SMITH: Anthony Weiner, does this sound like the beginning of a challenge to the President's nomination two years from now?

WEINER: By me? No, but I understand Dave Price will be looking for a job, so maybe-

[LAUGHTER]

SMITH: So – and I just want to tell Dave, I just want to tell him that my endorsement's up in the air so, woo me.

SMITH: Alright, Congressman Weiner, thank you so much. Do appreciate it.

WEINER: You got it.

SMITH: Alright. Dave? Give it a shot, I guess. Thank you very much.
 

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