Charles Krauthammer justifiably lost his patience with his fellow panelists on PBS's Inside Washington Friday evening.
No matter how many times he explained that Republicans last week proposed a revenue increase that Democrats refused, PBS's Mark Shields and NPR's Nina Totenberg couldn't seem to grasp this simple concept leading Krauthammer to ask, "What planet are you guys living on...I’ve rarely encountered such thickness" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: Anybody who has seen Washington for 40, 50, 60 years, and now it’s, as you pointed out, awash in money, who really believes that those loopholes are going to be gone, they’re crazy.
GORDON PETERSON, HOST: Wait a minute, though. You know, we talked about Newt Gingrich, but when he was Speaker of the House, he and Bill Clinton managed to cooperate on some things.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: I mean, what planet are you guys living on? This week, forget about the ’90s, Pat Toomey, a Club of Rome Republican, proposed an increase in tax revenues. I’m trying to explain to you that if you’re a Republican and you’re a conservative, a Club of Rome conservative, you can propose raising revenues as long as the rates, the marginal rates stay the same or go down. The way that you square that is by eliminating loopholes, which is what he proposed. This isn’t history, it isn’t hypothetical, it’s real, and the Democrats have said, “No.”
MARK SHIELDS, PBS: Grover Norquist put down Pat Toomey. Club for Growth, not Club of Rome. Club for Growth is what Pat Toomey founded.
KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, I retract that and I want to amend and I what to extend my remarks. Growth and Rome. Rome was actually the people who spoke about scarcity.
SHIELDS: That’s right.
PETERSON: I was just wondering if we moved the Capital.
SHIELDS: Grover Norquist, Grover Norquist acknowledged that this was a ploy on the part of Republicans. Let me just, there’s two facts that ought to be brought to mind. Two facts ought to be brought to mind. We are now paying 15 percent of our Gross Domestic Product in taxes. That is the lowest percentage in 60 years. 60 years ago, there was no Medicare. 60 years ago there was no Medicaid. 60 years ago there were no cost of living increases under Social Security. 60 years ago we did not have a $700 billion defense budget.
Yes, but what the budget-challenged Shields historically ignored is that in 1952, defense spending represented 68 percent of total outlays and 13 percent of GDP. In fiscal 2012, the estimates are that such spending will be only 18 percent of the total bugdget and just 4 percent of GDP.
By contrast, spending on Human Resources which includes Social Security and Medicaid was only 17 percent of the budget in 1952 and a mere 3 percent of GDP. This has now exploded to 65 percent of total projected outlays in 2012 and 15 percent of the budget.
As such, what we spend on national defense - something clearly addressed in the Constitution - has plummeted in the past 60 years as a function of the total budget while HR costs - with highly debatable Constitutionality - have absolutely exploded. It is this fact that liberals such as Shields like to completely ignore as they call for defense spending cuts and higher taxes:
SHIELDS: So, the reality is that anybody, no rational person believes that we can do anything about this debt without tax increases…
KRAUTHAMMER: But I have just said to you…
SHIELDS: …revenue increases of a substantial nature.
KRAUTHAMMER: But Toomey has proposed an increase in tax revenues.
TOTENBERG: There is no commission that has been set about this, and had any sort of a big plan, they all have plans that sort of eliminate loopholes, but they all have revenue increases as well…
SHIELDS: Tax increases.
TOTENBERG: Tax increases as well.
KRAUTHAMMER: You’re missing the point. Yes, you’re right, you have to have that, and the Republicans have proposed it on that committee.
TOTENBERG: No they have not.
KRAUTHAMMER: Toomey hasn’t proposed an increase in…
SHIELDS: They oppose Simpson-Bowles. They oppose…
TOTENBERG: The Gang of Six.
KRAUTHAMMER: Pat Toomey has not proposed, and Portman? Portman and Toomey have proposed it and increase in tax revenues.
Even Politico's Evan Thomas seemed baffled by the stupidity on display:
EVAN THOMAS: Yeah, I don’t know what you guys…
TOTENBERG: The revenues are not tax increases.
SHIELDS: Who sabotaged…
THOMAS: It’s revenues. What matters is revenues.
TOTENBERG: You’re not listening.
THOMAS: The only thing we care about is the amount of money coming in.
TOTENBERG: If you strip away all the loopholes, which is what Simpson-Bowles did, you still needed to have some tax increases.
SHIELDS: That’s exactly right.
TOTENBERG: And you can’t do it just by getting rid of loopholes.
KRAUTHAMMER: I’ve rarely encountered such thickness. I’ve just told you eight times that these two Republicans have proposed it, and you're telling me you gotta have extra revenues. Yes, and they were proposed.
KRAUTHAMMER: As long as you do it through tax reform.
THOMAS: Charles is right on this.
Of course he was, but the reality is the media all last week either ignored or downplayed Toomey's proposal so that they could continue with the dishonest meme that Republicans refuse to negotiate on anything to reduce the budget deficit except for spending cuts.
This allows the President and his Party to dishonestly blame the GOP for the inability to reach a budget agreement by the agreed upon deadline and lets Barack Obama use this during the campaign next year to bash a so-called "Do Nothing Congress."
Even more deplorable, what we saw on Friday evening was two Obama supporters aiding and abetting the charade by arguing on national television that no revenue increases were proposed by Republicans when they most certainly were.
But I must disagree with Krauthammer on one point: I often see "such thickness."
It sadly occurs almost any time a liberal media member opens his or her mouth.