CBS Hypes 'Millions...Harmed By the Sequester Wondering What Washington Plans To Do For Them'

On Monday's CBS This Morning, Chip Reid forwarded the talking points of "some Democrats [who] say less vocal victims of the budget slashing have been left out in the cold ". Reid asserted that "millions of Americans harmed by the sequester [are] wondering what Washington plans to do for them" after Congress expedited the passage of a bill that ended the furloughs of air traffic controllers.

CBS News political director John Dickerson also spotlighted how "these across-the-board cuts have affected...all kinds of things – kids getting their Head Start, meals for poor people, even cancer treatments for Medicare patients – but they haven't been able to put the pressure on lawmakers that happened in this case."

Anchor Charlie Rose noted in his lead-in for Reid's report that "things are getting back to normal at the nation's airports....It comes after Congress rushed through a bill ending furloughs. Chip Reid shows us why that move is coming under scrutiny." The correspondent gave his slanted "left out in the cold" line just before playing a soundbite of House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer attacking the sequester during a floor speech: "We ought not be mitigating the sequester's effect on just one segment, when children, the sick, our military, and many other groups who will be impacted by this irresponsible policy are left unhelped."

Reid did briefly touch on the sequester's effect on the Defense Department's budget by playing a clip from Senator John McCain underlining that he doesn't "want the sequestration cuts to be as steep as they are on national defense", but soon followed this with a clip from another prominent House Democrat – Rep. Chris van Hollen. He ended his report with the "millions of American" claim.

Rose and co-anchor Norah O'Donnell then brought on Dickerson to discuss the continued political debate over the sequester. The political director was more overt than Reid was in forwarding the talking points from many Democrats on the issue.

John Dickerson, CBS News Political Director; Screen Cap From 29 April 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgJOHN DICKERSON: ...This is what irritates a lot of Democrats – and at the White House, because Republicans say, yes – we can just be smart about these cuts and we can shrink the budget. What the White House was hoping, is that the pain from...these across-the-board cuts would hit and people would say, we need a big fix to this cockeyed budget we've got....But instead, people got kind of a Band-Aid fix, and now, they're not going to look for that bigger fix....a lot of people on the Democratic side worry, is if you take care of defense; if you take care of the FAA; you're not going to get to these bigger, large questions which are still unresolved.

On the other hand, Rose did point out that "Republicans have a point when they say spending cuts can be done wisely and better" and O'Donnell wondered why the military wasn't given more flexibility with their budget.

The full transcript of the Chip Reid report and the John Dickerson segment from Monday's CBS This Morning:


CHARLIE ROSE: The forecast is better for flyers. Things are getting back to normal at the nation's airports. The FAA said Sunday air traffic controllers are back on the job. It comes after Congress rushed through a bill ending furloughs.

Chip Reid shows us why that move is coming under scrutiny.

[CBS News Graphic: "Clear Skies: Flight Delays Fixed, Sequester Fight Continues"]

CHIP REID (voice-over): As Congress' fix to the nation's air traffic control system took effect this weekend, a wave of relief washed through the nation's airports.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: It's on-time. I'm delighted.

REID: That's a dramatic change in tone from just a few days ago, when airport delays were piling up due to furloughs of air traffic controllers. That put pressure on Congress to act.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: Do your job or lose your job – seriously.

REID: That message appeared to get through. Both houses of Congress moved quickly to give the Federal Aviation Administration more flexibility in cutting their budget – allowing them to bring back air traffic controller staffing to 100 percent. But by fixing only the flight delays and other high-profile effects of the sequester, some Democrats say less vocal victims of the budget slashing have been left out in the cold.

REP. STENY HOYER, (D), MARYLAND (from speech on House floor): We ought not be mitigating the sequester's effect on just one segment, when children, the sick, our military, and many other groups who will be impacted by this irresponsible policy are left unhelped.

REID: Also not getting much help: the budget for the military.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA (from interview on NBC's "Meet the Press"): I'm – I'm for giving the FAA flexibility, but I also want to give the military flexibility, and I don't want the sequestration cuts to be as steep as they are in – on national defense.

REID: The breakneck pace of fixing the airline delays has some chalking it up to congressional self-interest.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D), MARYLAND (from speech on House floor): Yes, they will make it easier for members of Congress to get through those lines, and they will pat themselves on the back and say, job well done.

REID: That leaves millions of Americans harmed by the sequester wondering what Washington plans to do for them. For 'CBS This Morning', Chip Reid, Washington.

NORAH O'DONNELL (live): With us now, CBS News political director John Dickerson. John, good morning. So what does it suggest that – that Congress can fix something only when it affects their travel time?

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah. Well, that's right. (O'Donnell laughs) Part of this was the-

CHARLIE ROSE: What's surprising about that?

DICKERSON: (laughs) The squeaky wheel got the grease – you know, constituents were angry. Hell hath no fury like a crowded departure lounge. (O'Donnell and Rose laugh) But there was also members of Congress – you know, their air travel plans were affected, so there was some self-interest here. The sequestration – these across-the-board cuts have affected, as Chip [Reid] said, all kinds of things – kids getting their Head Start, meals for poor people, even cancer treatments for Medicare patients – but they haven't been able to put the pressure on lawmakers that happened in this case.

But another part of this, was this was a relatively-easy fix. The FAA didn't get more money. They just got flexibility to move money around, which is part of the reason this happened so quickly.

[CBS News Graphic: "Affected By Sequester Cuts: -Head Start programs; -Meals On Wheels; -Cancer clinics"]

ROSE: So does that mean the Republicans have a point when they say spending cuts can be done wisely and better?

DICKERSON: Well, they do, and this is what irritates a lot of Democrats – and at the White House, because Republicans say, yes – we can just be smart about these cuts and we can shrink the budget. What the White House was hoping, is that the pain from sequestration – these across-the-board cuts – would hit and people would say, we need a big fix to this cockeyed budget we've got-

O'DONNELL: Right-

DICKERSON: And instead, what happened was, the White House has a cure for that – a mix of spending and tax cuts (sic). But instead, people got kind of a Band-Aid fix, and now, they're not going to look for that bigger fix. That's the worry from some Democrats.

O'DONNELL: And what about the point that the military is facing these types of across-the-board cuts? We had General [Ray] Odierno here, who said this is ridiculous. Why not give the military flexibility?

[CBS News Graphic: "Furlough Fixes: Other Groups Impacted Looking For Help"]

DICKERSON: Well, that's a – that's another argument. The problem with giving them flexibility, is that it's a little bit more complicated. But that's right – it's a question of flexibility, but it takes you, again, back to people who are trying to make the larger argument, which is, let's not talk about flexibility so much. Let's talk about a bigger mix. Let's get this bigger question of taxes and entitlements. And a lot of people on the Democratic side worry, is if you take care of defense; if you take care of the FAA; you're not going to get to these bigger, large questions which are still unresolved.

ROSE: John, thank you.

DICKERSON: Thanks, Charlie.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center