On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos highlighted House Democrats’ opposition to any troop increase in Afghanistan on budget grounds, but did not address the inconsistency of this position, since most of these congressmen support spending hundreds of billions on health care “reform.”
Before bringing up the budget issue, Stephanopoulos preemptively apologized for President Obama’s upcoming speech on Afghanistan. After guessing that it was going to be 30-40 minutes long, the anchor continued that Obama “needs that much time because this is a very difficult speech.” Just before this, the ABC anchor acted like the President himself was going to be the sole author of the speech: “I was just talking to a couple of White House aides. They say the President is actually going to begin writing the speech today. He hasn’t begun writing yet. He just made the decision [on the troop increase] the other night.”
Later in the segment, which began six minutes into the 7 am hour, GMA anchor Robin Roberts raise the cost issue: “Of course, we think of the troops, and we think of their families. Others also think of the cost, that we’re talking about maybe $1 trillion over the next ten years? How can you afford it?”
Stephanopoulos first noted that “Democrats, especially the President’s allies on Capitol Hill- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying there’s tremendous unrest in her caucus about the cost.” He then speculated as to President Obama’s course of action: “What the President is going to have to do here, because this is going to be so expensive, is actually reach out to the Republicans, who have opposed him on health care, who opposed him on the stimulus- get their votes, because he’s going to lose a majority of votes among House Democrats.”
“This is going to be so expensive,” George? How about those proposed health care “reform” packages that the Democrats are trying to push through Congress? They obviously don’t object to that, and yet, you remained silent on that inconsistency.
The full transcript of the segment from Wednesday’s Good Morning America:
ROBIN ROBERTS: Now, for ‘The Bottom Line,’ we’re joined by our chief Washington correspondent, and the host of ‘This Week,’ George Stephanopoulos.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the bottom line on that pavilion? (Roberts laughs) That was really something out there.
ROBERTS: I know, and they really made it seem like you weren’t even inside a tent. But we’re on your turf. We’re on your turf right here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: This is right. Welcome to the Newseum.
ROBERTS: Thank you very much. We’re going to talk about the state dinner in a moment, but first, Afghanistan, and you’re getting new details about the speech that he will make next week.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I was just talking to a couple of White House aides. They say the President is actually going to begin writing the speech today. He hasn’t begun writing yet. He just made the decision the other night. Here’s what we know- it’s going to be Tuesday. The President will announce his decision Tuesday night, likely outside of the White House. He wants to speak before an audience on Tuesday night- probably a 30, 40-minute speech. He needs that much time, Robin, because this is a very difficult speech. We’re eight years into the war. The White House knows that the public is pretty weary of the war, but they’re also unclear on where we need to go next. So the President has an opportunity to convince them that sending more troops right now with a new strategy is the right thing to do. But it’s tricky because he’s going to making this argument that we need to send more troops now with a new strategy in order to get out more quickly, and that’s what people really want to hear.
ROBERTS: Are we hearing a number associated with that?
STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s still moving around a little bit.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think the best number is around 30,000 U.S. troops. It could be a few thousand more than that. It could be one or two thousand less- probably seven thousand NATO troops, and they’re trying to speed up the training of an Afghan division as well. The idea would be to get through that combination to the 40,000 that General McChrystal has been calling for, the 40,000 he says he needs for an effective strategy.
ROBERTS: Of course, we think of the troops, and we think of their families. Others also think of the cost, that we’re talking about maybe $1 trillion over the next ten years? How can you afford it?
STEPHANOPOULOS: It could be $1 million for every troop we send, and what Capitol Hill is saying right now is we can’t. You’ve got Democrats, especially the President’s allies on Capitol Hill- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying there’s tremendous unrest in her caucus about the cost. You have some Democrats, like the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, David Obey, saying, if we do this, we ought to pay for it with a tax, a surtax on every, single American. Now, that’s not going to fly right now. But what the President is going to have to do here, because this is going to be so expensive, is actually reach out to the Republicans, who have opposed him on health care, who opposed him on the stimulus- get their votes, because he’s going to lose a majority of votes among House Democrats.
ROBERTS: Finally, on the state dinner last night- of course, it was a festive atmosphere- but also very important- I mean, India [is] very important to us, as far as the global economy- you know, and also security.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In so many different ways, and that’s why it was a powerful message to have India be the first honoree of a state visit and a state dinner. We need India on economic matters, on trade matters. We need India to help combat climate change. We need India to help deal with the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If Pakistan feels threatened by India, they’re not going to take on the Taliban. They’re going to be focused on India instead. We need India to help combat nuclear proliferation- one of our most important alliances, and that’s what the President said by having this state visit, by having this be the first state dinner.
ROBERTS: Exactly. All right, George, thank you, as always, for ‘The Bottom Line.’
STEPHANOPOULOS: Happy Thanksgiving!