With no mention of record projected deficit, CBS allowed Matalin to spin Bolten appointmentMarch 31, 2006 12:17 PM EST ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
On the March 29 broadcast of CBS' The Early Show, co-host Harry Smith allowed Republican strategist Mary Matalin to tout newly appointed White House chief of staff Joshua B. Bolten's "extraordinary credentials, credibility and experience, and relationships on the Hill with his work" as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Matalin also mentioned Bolten's "skill set" and "policy background." But Smith did not inform viewers that as OMB director, Bolten oversaw the 2006 budget, which the White House predicts will produce the largest deficit ever.
Matalin -- who was the sole guest discussing Bolten on The Early Show -- served as assistant to President Bush and counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2001 to 2002; during the same period, Bolten was serving as White House deputy chief of staff for policy. Earlier in the show, CBS senior White House correspondent Bill Plante mentioned Bolten's tenure as OMB director and described him as a "policy expert who rides motorcycles and plays bass guitar in a rock band to relax." Like Smith, Plante made no mention of Bolten's record of deficits.
Since taking over as OMB director in June 2003, Bolten has overseen the production of the fiscal year 2005, 2006, and 2007 budgets. By the White House's own projections, these budgets will result in three of the five largest deficits in United States history. (The other two were the 2003 and 2004 budget deficits.) The 2005 deficit was $318 billion -- at the time, the third-largest deficit ever. The White House projects that the deficit will balloon to a record $423 billion for 2006 before falling to an estimated $354 billion in 2007.
From the March 29 broadcast of CBS' The Early Show:
PLANTE: But the new chief of staff is an insider, not exactly new blood. Josh Bolten has been on the staff -- now the budget director and once [former chief of staff Andrew H.] Card's deputy -- a policy expert who rides motorcycles and plays bass guitar in a rock band to relax.
SMITH: Bolten, you know, is a White House insider, head of Office of Management and Budget, been with the president since the beginning. There are people on the Hill -- [Sen.] Trent Lott [R-MS] says, "This is no change at all."
MATALIN: It's a very significant change. This is not cosmetics. The president doesn't do cosmetics. But he -- it's also not a radical change for change's sake. This is a very analytical, methodical president who knows when he needs to make adjustments. There have been -- there's been a procession of some stumbles. Of course, you don't stumble if you're standing still. You only stumble when you're trying to go forward.
MATALIN: Josh has served in the past at the State Department, at USTR [United States Trade Representative]. He's a graduate of Princeton and Stanford. He has extraordinary credentials, credibility and experience, and relationships on the Hill with his work at OMB. If there's one thing that Josh has done on the Hill, it's work, day-in and day-out, with these guys. So, he's policy -- and he's good at politics.
SMITH: Well, here's the question, then, because everybody -- it's all about an election year. People on the Hill have been coming to the White House saying, "We need change. You're not feeling us here, you're not hearing us." Is Bolten the guy to make the difference?
MATALIN: Yes, he -- well, the president would not have made this -- this shift -- and it is significant -- if he didn't think that Josh wasn't the right person. And as I said, there is nothing more important that the Hill does than work through these budget issues on -- that are very important to the furtherance of progress in our economy. And Josh has been working with them for many years. He's also the architect of the president's original and biggest and most significant domestic policy issues. He was a domestic policy person in the first term, and he was a deputy chief of staff. So, he has all the skill sets to do this, he has all the policy background.
SMITH: Yeah. That's good. That's a wonderful résumé. Well, here's the thing, though. I think the Hill -- and there are people in the Republican Party -- are feeling like the president's out of touch, missed the boat on the ports deal. Is the White House -- are their ears wider open now than they were a month ago?