Democrat representative and DNC vice chairman Keith Ellison could be forgiven if he thought he would be tossed softball questions by MSNBC's Steve Kornacki (substituting on Kasie DC) on Sunday night. However, even on MSNBC liberals will occasionally (but rarely) be hit with hardballs.
Such was the case when Kornacki kept asking Ellison over and over if the Democrats would support the repeal of middle class tax cuts in the current law passed by Congress last December. Ellison kept trying to dodge the question by attempting to only talk about repealing the tax cuts for the rich but, unfortunately for him, Kornacki kept repeating the question he didn't want to hear.
STEVE KORNACKI: What about, talking about those everyday folks out there you’re trying to win over, the Republican message, certainly from Donald Trump, is going to run on the tax cut. Going to run on the Republicans voting at the end of the last year, trump signing a tax cut. Your criticism of it as Democrats, the rich are getting way too much here. But the fact is working people did it, they did get something. Let me ask you this. Is the Democratic message to those working folks that you can keep the tax cut that you got from Donald Trump, or is the message, repeal the tax cut?
KEITH ELLISON: I think the message for the richest folks who got the tax cut and the big companies needs to be repeal them. I have no idea why corporate tax rate needs to drop from 35% to 20, why we need to essentially cut the estate tax which only the richest people benefit from. Folks know...
Not good. MSNBC can't keep the message contained to tax cuts for rich.
KORNACKI: Okay. What about the tax cut folks got this their paychecks?
ELLISON: What they want to know is how are we going to live the American dream. How are we going to create a society where our kids can expect to do better than us. Nothing about these tax cuts indicates that. In fact, the working folks quote tax cuts to the degree they exist at all, are temporary and the big company’s tax cuts are permanent. So, we’re going to be arguing about how we can do better, how you can move forward to a better life. That’s what we’re talking about.
Ellison must have been frustrated: Why do you keep bringing up tax cuts for working folks?
KORNACKI: They are temporary, but they do go for a number of years here. Is the message to those working folks — not talking the 1%. The working folks, the folks who have it in their paycheck, for instance. Is the message that if Democrats get control of the house that, hey, we don’t think it was enough. We think it was too small. But you can keep the tax cut you got, or is the message that tax cut is going away?
ELLISON: Look, the problematic tax cuts are the one that blow a massive hole in our budget next year. Those are the problems. You know, the problem is not that working people get a few bucks here and there. They need a future, not some small money so that trump can get buckets of movie to the richest people in the country. People are smart. They know, they know they’re being played.
Ellison had to be thinking: What do I need to do to get Steve off his annoying tax cuts shtick? Do I use hand signals or perhaps blink code to him with my eyes?
KORNACKI: Is there a commitment there the tax cuts for working class folks, for middle class folks stay? Is that what you’re trying to say here?
ELLISON: Look, you know how the legislative process works. We’re going, we’re going to go back there and we’re going to look at what kind of tax situation we’re going to have, that it’s fair to everybody. That’s what we’re going to do. But the bottom line is these taxes to the wealthiest and the big companies are not fair. They put a burden on state and local governments and put the burdens on shoulders of working people. It’s not just the tax cuts. It’s also the budget impact that tax cuts are going tomorrow. Those things hurt working people and we’re fighting for working folks.
"You know how the legislative process works." Translation: We'll decide on repealing tax cuts after we get the majority, and we might not get the majority if we talk too much about repealing tax cuts. Ellison surely put down Kornacki on his MUST MISS list for future interviews.
Exit question: Is there any way to play back those same Steve Kornacki questions to Democrats running in the redder states in the midterm elections such as senators Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, or Joe Donnelly?