Comparing the current tax cut compromise with Barack Obama's stimulus plan of 2009, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough labeled the tax cuts a "steaming pile of garbage" on his December 13 show. Complaining that the compromise will add another $900 billion to the deficit, Scarborough compared it to the stimulus plan that cost a similar amount in the name of "stimulating" the economy.
"This is a disaster for conservatives," Scarborough asserted, arguing that adding to the deficit is worse than stimulating the economy with tax cuts that aren't "paid for."
The weekend after the deficit commission proposed a way to cut $4 trillion in the next generation, Republican leaders met with President Obama and produced a compromise extending the Bush tax cuts for all income earners, along with other provisions that would ultimately add $1 trillion to the deficit.
"It's another steaming pile of garbage," co-host Mika Brzezinski spat. Scarborough agreed with her. "Man, I tell you, if I were a Democrat in the House, I'd vote against this in a second," he remarked.
Time magazine's Mark Halperin insisted that the tax cuts will give the economy a much-needed jolt in the short-term, and Republicans have time to tackle the deficit.
"Well it's a good package for the economy, and it's a good package for the President politically," Halperin argued. "I still don't quite understand why Democrats are so down on it. It has to be followed by deficit reduction, in the longer term next year."
The deficit fight will come later, Halperin added. "Next year, in just a few months, when House Republicans have to write a budget, and the President opposes a big deficit reduction plan, they'll be able to have a version of this fight again."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on December 13 at 7:54 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
MSNBC MORNING JOE 12/13/10 7:54 a.m.-7:59 a.m. EDT
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Did you see Krauthammer's column on Friday, I think it was, which is what I was saying, that this is like a stimulus package. $900 billion, we're borrowing the money from the Chinese – this is a disaster for conservatives.
MARK HALPERIN: Well it's a good package for the economy, and it's a good package for the President politically. I still don't quite understand why Democrats are so down on it. It has to be followed by deficit reduction, in the longer term next year.
HALPERIN: – it will be. And it will be.
SCARBOROUGH: That is funny. As we have pointed out here, Mika, the debt commission comes out and there's fanfare (Makes trumpet noise) And they come out and "We have" – they come down from the mountain, they've figured out how to cut $4 trillion over the next generation, everybody like "Ah! We can't do it! We can't do it!" And then that weekend they cut a deal to add an additional trillion dollars to the debt, in one weekend.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: It's another steaming pile of garbage.
SCARBOROUGH: It is another steaming pile of garbage.
BRZEZINSKI: It is. And –
HALPERIN: In the short term, it's what the economy needs.
SCARBOROUGH: People like me criticized the Republicans for eight years, and Democrats joined in, "Yes, isn't it terrible how they spent too much money." And so Barack Obama has a $900 billion stimulus package two years ago, which of course we say is not going to work, and now he has another $900 billion stimulus package, again, not paid for, and again, this one actually will get the economy revved up, but what's it going to do? (...) All Washington's trying to do is re-create a bubble. And so even if these tax cuts were best-case scenario, it's going to get people back into shopping malls.
SCARBOROUGH: And it's going to put us deeper in debt.
SCARBOROUGH: 15 percent unemployment – even if it gets down to 8 percent real unemployment, we're not growing the economy. We're just ginning it up and borrowing –
BRZEZINSKI: Just stop it with that.
WILLIE GEIST: That's what a lot of people are saying. This is a sugar-high, but a sugar-high we need in the short-term. Everybody's looking at the big picture.
SCARBOROUGH: Man, I tell you, if I were a Democrat in the House, I'd vote against this in a second. I don't know if, because there's – we can talk economics. You're right, economically it's going to give us a sugar high, there's going to be a jolt to the economy long-term, there's going to be a nightmare – but just ideologically, I don't know how a liberal extends Bush tax cuts that they have blamed on everything that's gone bad over the past 10 years. How do you go, Mark Halperin, from saying these are the worst tax cuts ever, to suddenly saying "this is our last best hope"?
BRZEZINSKI: Oh please.
HALPERIN: Because it's an odd circumstance. They have to get something done before the new year.
SCARBOROUGH: But if you're a liberal Democrat, you can't vote for this.
HALPERIN: But I don't think liberals are opposed to the top rate staying the same, because – I don't think they're opposed to it –
SCARBOROUGH: (Laughing) Yes they are!
HALPERIN: I don't think they're opposed to it, because they think it's bad economics. They're opposed to it because they think it's unjust.
BRZEZINSKI: And immoral.
SCARBOROUGH: So, just like Republicans think it's immoral, and I think it's immoral, for the federal government to take too much money from Americans.
HALPERIN: So next year, in just a few months, when House Republicans have to write a budget, and the President opposes a big deficit reduction plan, they'll be able to have a version of this fight again.
SCARBOROUGH: Now you know this is so confusing – people just turning on a dime, Mika. There's no parallels to this. I can't think of –