Monday, December 13, 2010

POLITICS - Newshour on the Tax-Cut Deal

"Shields, Brooks on Tax-Cut Deal, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'" PBS Newshour Transcript 12/10/2010 (includes video)


JIM LEHRER (Editor Newshour): Mr. Brooks?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times columnist: First, I sort of understand the House Democrats on the method. The White House didn't do a good job of rewarding the loyalty that has been flowing up. They didn't do a good job talking and communicating. Nonetheless, I think the president got a remarkably good deal. Look at the context he was in. As I mentioned, there is about to be a Republican House. The tax cuts are going to go away. And you had a series of Democratic senators from red states who wanted all the tax cuts preserved. And so this was an extraordinarily weak hand they were dealt. And yet the White House got -- managed to get out of the negotiations a whole lot of things the Democrats want, on the earned income tax credit, on college scholarships, on the payroll tax. They got a lot of stuff. They did remarkably well for their side.

So, there are a lot of Republicans who are unhappy, because this is sort of a balanced package. And, as for President Obama, he says it is immoral. He disagrees with the policy. That much is clear. But guess what? This is Washington. This is real life. You have got to do negotiations.

And given the context he had, and the context he faced, and the ruinous cost, if everybody's taxes went up in the middle of a recession, he had to make a deal. And he made a deal. He is probably not happy with the deal. The Republicans are not totally happy with the deal. But it is a deal. That is what a deal is.

And we're not used to that happening in Washington too much recently, but it happened. And so, on balance, I think it's probably good for the economy for the next two years, and I think it's good for Washington that we actually -- somebody actually made compromise.

JIM LEHRER: Of course, former President Bill Clinton said a couple hours ago here in Washington, after meeting with President Obama -- he had a news conference, and he said, there's -- I believe there is not a better deal out there than this one.

Is he speaking for himself?

MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist: I think he's speaking -- he is a very informed, insightful observer.

I would point out, Jim, two words that were spoken reverentially on this set in the last couple of weeks: Simpson-Bowles. We were talking about the debt.

JIM LEHRER: The deficit, the deficit.

MARK SHIELDS: The debt in the country and how important it was. And we were in a new era and we're going to deal with this.

Nine hundred billion dollars of red ink just out there, and $120 billion of it goes to the top 2 percent, at a time of the greatest income inequality in this country since 1928. David says the president cut the deal. The president cut a deal after no fight.

He did have -- not have a weak hand. He had 60 percent of the American people believed, according to a Bloomberg poll, asked specifically this week, during the fight itself as it was emerging, do you favor repeal of these taxes for the richest? Was there a fight made? That's when you come to a compromise, is after a fight.

I will tell you what the problem that Barack Obama has right now in the political world. Republicans are secretly gleeful.

Bold-blue emphasis mine

I also believe that the Republicans holding hostage tax cuts for 98% of Americans to tax cuts for 2% of Americans IS IMMORAL.

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