CNN’s King Forwards Bush 41’s ‘Courage’ to Hike Taxes as Model for Current GOP

Interviewing former Vice President Dick Cheney at the Reagan library, CNN’s John King recalled how former President George H.W. Bush “made an incredibly tough personal and political choice” to raise taxes. King touted how Bush “had the courage knowing it might cost him re-election.”

As he and Cheney sat overlooking the Air Force One Pavilion, King pointed to Bush as a model for Republicans today: “There are some people now saying that we need a moment like that and that the Republicans should give President Obama some tax increases as long as they get from him significant spending cuts and a big deficit reduction package. Should Republicans learn from George H.W. Bush and sit down with the President and cut a deal?”

Cheney, no surprise, didn’t agree.

(Bush lost, so why wouldn’t Republicans have “learned” from Bush to not break pledges to not raise taxes? If the virtue is in going against your party, how about pressing liberal Democrats to agree to actual budget cuts which really occur?)

King proceeded to note that conservative anger at Bush fueled the “Grover Norquists of the world with the pledge, ‘I’ll never raise taxes.’” King worried: “Is that the right thing for the country?”

From the pre-recorded interview, conducted on Tuesday, as run on the Thursday, September 22 John King USA which is carried by CNN at 7 and 11 PM EDT:

JOHN KING: How would you rate George H.W. Bush in a sentence or two as President of the United States?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: I think he gets high marks as President.

KING: He also made an incredibly tough personal and political choice when the country faced a situation not unlike what we’re going through in our politics today when our deficit and concerns about the deficit and potential effect of dragging the economy were front and center. George H.W. Bush had the courage, knowing it might cost him re-election, knowing for sure it would cost him support with his conservative base, to violate the central domestic policy pledge of his campaign, “read my lips, no new taxes.” And he called everybody out to Camp David at Andrews Air Force Base and he agreed to a package that caused him to violate that promise.

There are some people now saying that we need a moment like that and that the Republicans should give President Obama some tax increases as long as they get from him significant spending cuts and a big deficit reduction package. Should the Republicans learn from George H.W. Bush and sit down with the President and cut a deal?

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CHENEY: I wouldn’t put it that way, John. I think that the panel that’s been appointed, the special debt reduction panel, clearly has its work cut out for it. You’ve got some good people on that panel. They’re going to have to come up with some kind of a package that can
gain broad support in the Congress.

KING: Conservatives are still furious at George H.W. Bush. They say that’s proof, that’s proof, and that’s why you have the Grover Norquists of the world with their pledge, “I’ll never raise taxes.” Is that the right thing for the country?

CHENEY: I think the notion of a big tax increase now whatever the guise or the rationale is exactly the wrong thing to do in the midst of one of the worst recessions we've had in modern times.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center