CBS's Bob Schieffer took on the role of a left-wing activist on Sunday's Face the Nation, as he pressed all four of his guests from both parties about cuts in state and local spending. Schieffer bewailed how both Republican Governors John Kasich and Scott Walker "cut deeply into education" and asked Democratic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa if he felt good about making "draconian cuts" [audio clips available here]
The anchor brought on the governors of Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as the mayor of Los Angeles and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, for his half-hour program to discuss the impasse over the federal budget and the debt ceiling and its impact on their states. After an initial question to Governor Kasich, where Schieffer claimed how, apparently, "things are worse than ever" between the two political parties, Schieffer set up his first question to Governor Walker with his lament of the apparent cuts to education in the states of his two Republican guests:
SCHIEFFER (to Kasich, and then, to Walker): ...A lot of people say it's miraculous that you got your budget done, but in order to do it, you had to cut deeply into education. Now, Governor Walker up in Wisconsin, he had to do the same thing when he got his budget done.
I guess, Governor Walker, I would ask you, is that going to be the wave of the future is to just cut deeply into education? It seems to be the thing that gets cut first now.
Once the Wisconsin executive defended his state's budget, the CBS journalist turned to the Massachusetts governor and pressed him on whether he was going to sign a recently-passed budget into law:
SCHIEFFER: Your legislature has just sent you a budget that, I have to say, looks a lot more Republican than Democrat, in Massachusetts, of all places. (Patrick laughs) It limited- it limits bargaining rights of state workers. There are deep cuts in the programs for the poor- no tax increases. I guess, for the benefit of the reporters for Massachusetts and the people up there watching this morning, are you going to sign this budget, Governor?
After Governor Patrick avoided giving a direct answer (and some technical difficulties on the audio feed between host and guest), Schieffer stayed on topic with his second Democratic guest and questioned why the mayor had to slash his budget, and zeroed-in on cuts to emergency services:
SCHIEFFER: Mr. Mayor, you're not in charge of state budgets obviously, but you're in charge of a pretty good-sized budget out there in Los Angeles. You had to make some draconian cuts yourself. You have cut down on the number of fire stations, your number- cut down on ambulance service. Do you feel good about that? I mean, is that what government is supposed to be doing here?
The CBS anchor has made his economic liberalism manifest on at least three occasions over the past few months. On April 17, Schieffer hit Democratic Senator Mark Warner from the left on taxes: "Senator, you are a Democrat, you are a conservative Democrat from a very conservative state, Virginia. Do you think that we can solve the deficit problem without raising taxes in some way?" He also questioned the wisdom of tax cuts with Republican guest Rep. Paul Ryan: "Why do these rich people need another tax cut? I mean, they're already rich. They seem to be doing pretty well as it is now. Why cut their taxes some more?"
On the June 13 edition of CBS Evening News, the journalist praised Republican Senator Tom Coburn for his "candor" for being open to raise taxes in order to decrease the deficit: "That is not the first time we have heard someone offer that analysis but it may be the first time a member of Congress has been willing to admit that Congress simply lacks the courage to do what everyone knows needs to be done."
The following morning, during a town hall meeting with four Republican politicians, Schieffer again sparred with Rep. Ryan, this time on the gridlock in Congress over the economy: "Let me ask you, the three members of Congress here: you've been here since January. To the best of my knowledge, you've done absolutely nothing. There's no jobs program. You've got unemployment at 9.1 percent. Why is that?...[W]ouldn't it be good to try to find some way to compromise on these things....instead of passing these things that people know will never get agreed to by the other house?"