On Good Morning America, Claire Shipman warned that "we're still likely, if the Democrats get the House, to see a culture of gridlock" because "[n]either side will have the 60 votes in the Senate they would need to really get things done." Shipman did not inform viewers of the number of issues on the GOP legislative agenda that went unaddressed in this congressional session.
While reporting on the "reality" of a Democratic-controlled House, on the November 7 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, ABC News senior national correspondent Claire Shipman warned that "we're still likely, if the Democrats get the House, to see a culture of gridlock" because "[n]either side will have the 60 votes in the Senate they would need to really get things done." Throughout the segment, onscreen text read: "What if Dems take Congress? Will Government Gridlock?" But in suggesting a "culture of gridlock" would ensue should "Democrats get the House," Shipman did not inform viewers of the current Republican Congress' failed legislative agenda.
Indeed, as ABC News' own reporting has noted, the Republican-controlled House and Senate have not succeeded in tackling major issues, such as comprehensive immigration, Social Security, and tax reforms, which Republicans had identified as their top domestic priorities. During a discussion about the current session of Congress with ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson on the September 26 edition of ABC News Now's Politics Live, John Fortier, a research fellow with the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), asserted that the current Republican-controlled Congress "is a somewhat unproductive Congress." Fortier explained: "[I]f you go back to President Bush's inaugural speech, this was supposed to be a Congress where we were reforming Social Security or changing the tax code -- big priorities of Bush -- which long ago went by the wayside. So, certainly, it is a Congress that is having trouble passing things." While interviewing House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) during the October 29 edition of ABC's This Week, ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos similarly noted that, this year, Congress "killed ... tax reform, Social Security private accounts, and comprehensive immigration reform" -- three Bush-sponsored "agenda items."
Additionally, Shipman misled on Democrats' stated position on Bush's tax cuts. Shipman noted that both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney believe that Democrats would raise taxes if elected, and then aired House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's (CA) contention that Democrats would seek to "roll back some of President Bush's tax cuts." Shipman did not report, however, that Pelosi has stated that Democrats will consider increasing taxes only on those making "$250,000 or $300,000 a year and higher" and would cut taxes for the middle class, as Media Matters for America has previously noted. Moreover, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has said that Democrats' highest priority, with regard to taxes, would be on reducing the impact of the alternative minimum tax on middle-class taxpayers.
From the November 7 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:
SHIPMAN: Good morning, Robin. We are in one of the many House hearing rooms. And this is what has Republicans incredibly nervous: that these rooms are going to get very busy on issues like Iraq, the [former Rep. Mark] Foley [R-FL] scandal if Democrats get control of the House and get to sit in the chairman's spot.
ANNOUNCER [video clip]: Liberal Democrats want to cut and run in Iraq.
SHIPMAN: Just thinking about it, strategists hope, will give Republican voters such severe chills they'll rush to the polls.
SHIPMAN: The reality of a Democratic-controlled House? Here's what the woman who would be in charge says.
PELOSI: We would make our country safer, make our economy fairer, make college more affordable, heath care more accessible. We would move toward energy independence.
SHIPMAN: All that probably unlikely without a Democratic Senate and White House, as well, but do look for these specifics.
STUART ROTHENBERG (The Rothenberg Political Report editor and publisher) [video clip]: The Democrats are gonna push minimum wage, reimportation of prescription drugs, student loans, and the big thing is, we're gonna get, I think, a number of inquiries into Bush policy, whether it's Iraq, post-Katrina cleanup, or domestic surveillance.
SHIPMAN: Ah, yes, the power of investigation. Not to mention the power of the purse. Both could make a Democratic House a real force in pushing for a drawdown in Iraq, for example. And Republicans are right about one of the stickiest and unresolved questions for Democrats should they win.
BUSH [video clip]: Raising taxes is what the Democrats want to do.
CHENEY [video clip]: I think, in fact, you would see a major tax increase.
SHIPMAN: But you would intend to roll back some of President Bush's tax cuts.
PELOSI: Some of President Bush's tax cuts.
SHIPMAN: And immediately?
PELOSI: Well, we have to go through it and see how much money is required.
SHIPMAN: One clear pledge the minority leader has made, perhaps with an eye toward helping a Democrat win the White House in 2008 --
PELOSI: We have taken impeachment off the table.
ROTHENBERG: The way to win the White House is not to come out with both barrels blasting and try to impeach the president. So, I think you may see a surprisingly pragmatic Nancy Pelosi and Democratic majority in the House.
SHIPMAN : Now, if Republicans keep the House, look for a leadership shake-up. Many Republicans are unhappy with the leadership style of the speaker of the house, Dennis Hastert [IL]. It's been a hands-off style. They don't like all of the scandals they've had to endure. But keep in mind, we're still likely, if the Democrats get the House, to see a culture of gridlock. Neither side will have the 60 votes in the Senate they would need to really get things done. Robin.
From the October 29 edition of ABC's This Week:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me turn to the domestic agenda. At his press conference this week, President Bush said he wanted to revive three agenda items that were killed in Congress this year: tax reform, Social Security private accounts, and comprehensive immigration reform. Here's how he put it.
BUSH [video clip]: First, I haven't given up on any of those issues. I got two years left to achieve them. And I firmly believe it is more likely to achieve those three objectives with a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican-controlled Senate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As Republican leader in the House, if you maintain the majority, will you help the president pass Social Security private accounts and comprehensive immigration reform?
JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): I believe that having fundamental tax reform is critical for our long-term interests. Our tax system burdens a lot of our exports and if we change our tax system like other countries around the world have, we can lower the tax load on our exports, helping to increase our exports.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's tax reform --
BOEHNER: When it comes -- when it comes to the issue of entitlements, whether it be Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, baby boomers, like I, have made promises to ourselves that our kids and grandkids can't afford. And we as a country need to have a very serious conversation about what's fair here. But -- but --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the Republican House --
BOEHNER: But George --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Excuse me, let me just interrupt you there, because the Republican House last time killed the president's proposal on Social Security reform. Are you saying you're going to bring it back?
BOEHNER: George, what I'm saying is we as a nation have to have a serious conversation about the three largest entitlement programs we're having. They're growing at double-digit rates of inflation -- they're not sustainable -- and rather than put issues on the table or take issues off the table, I think it's time for Americans to come together and let's have an honest conversation about the promises we've made to ourselves that literally our kids and grandkids cannot afford.
From the September 26 edition ABC News Now's Politics Live:
DONALDSON: Well, now, is this business as usual? I mean, are we making too much of this? If we went back in history in the last 20 or 30 years would be fine, every Congress says the same nothing.
FORTIER: Well, there are instances of things being put off until after the election long breaks, but it is a somewhat unproductive Congress, I think. And you didn't even mention, if you go back to President Bush's inaugural speech, this was supposed to be a Congress where we were reforming Social Security or changing the tax code -- big priorities of Bush -- which long ago went by the wayside. So, certainly it is a Congress that is having trouble passing things. It's a challenging atmosphere for Republicans, and they're not gonna look back on this one as one of the highlights.