Couric Blames Dems For GOP's Expiration Date On Bush Tax Cuts

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric blamed Democrats for the expiration date of the Bush tax cuts. In fact, Democratic leaders in Congress voiced opposition to the sunset provisions, which allowed Congress to hide the true cost of the tax cut and avoid a filibuster in the Senate.

Couric Claimed That Democrats Were Behind Tax-Cut Expiration Date

Couric: “Democratic Support Came With One Condition: That The Tax Cuts Expire In 10 Years.” During a segment on the Bush era tax cuts, Katie Couric said:

COURIC: In 2000, there was still a $230 billion surplus. George W. Bush campaigned on giving some of that money back to the people.

BILL PLANTE (CBS News senior White House correspondent): The younger Bush went around telling people, “Look, I'm more like Ronald Reagan than my father.” And, at the time, the budget was in surplus. So the tax cut didn't seem like such a bad idea.

BUSH: The people of America have been overcharged, and on their behalf, I'm here asking for a refund.


JOHN NOLEN (CBS News congressional producer): There were about a dozen Democrats who in the end voted for the president's tax-cut plan. There was a lot of pressure.

COURIC: In a rare Memorial Day session, the Senate passed Bush's $1.3 trillion tax-cut plan, lowering tax rates 3 to 5 percent in all income brackets, phasing out the estate tax, reducing the marriage penalty, and doubling the per-child credit to $1,000.

BUSH: The first broad tax relief in a generation.

COURIC: The end result was bipartisan, but Democratic support came with one condition: that the tax cuts expire in 10 years. [CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, 12/2/10]

In Fact, GOP Included Expiration Dates To Hide Cost And Deny Dems The Option To Filibuster

Wash. Post: Without Sunset Clause, “The Bill Would Have Needed At Least 60 Votes” In The Senate. In an article after the tax cut bill passed, The Washington Post reported:

House Republican leaders said yesterday that they will push legislation this year to make permanent the bulk of the $ 1.35 trillion tax cut awaiting President Bush's signature. Most provisions of the bill are set to expire at the end of 2010.

House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) said removing the “sunset” date would be “an encouragement to the American people -- to hear this is real and know that it's going to last.”

Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the sunset date of Dec. 31, 2010, for most of the provisions was required by Senate rules on how tax cuts can be made to fit under a 10-year budget. Without that cutoff date, he said, the bill would have needed at least 60 votes in the 100-member Senate. [The Washington Post, 6/7/01, from Nexis (emphasis added)]

Wash. Post: Sunset Clause “Effectively Boosted The Size Of The Tax Cut,” While “Hiding Its True Cost.” In an article after the tax-cut bill was approved by the conference committee, The Washington Post reported:

All of these provisions will expire at the end of 2010, an accounting maneuver that kept the cost below $ 1.35 trillion and allowed a deal to be struck. Since Republicans had placed the tax bill on a fast-track process allowing limited debate, an obscure Senate rule would have required the bill to lapse at the end of fiscal 2011. But when negotiations were at an impasse, lawmakers realized that they could move up the date.

By terminating the tax cuts at the end of 2010, negotiators were able to avoid some tough decisions. Since they could now distribute the same amount of money over nine years rather than 10 years, they effectively boosted the size of the tax cut while at the same time hiding its true cost. [The Washington Post, 5/27/01, from Nexis (emphasis added)]

Moreover, Democratic Leaders Criticized The GOP Over The Expiration Dates

NY Times: “Democratic Leaders Sharply Criticized The Bill, Particularly” The Sunset Clause. In an article after the tax-cut bill was approved by the conference committee, The New York Times reported:

Democratic leaders sharply criticized the bill, particularly the elements that would hide the loss of revenue by showing that the tax cuts would expire before 2011.

Representative Charles B. Rangel of Manhattan, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, was officially a conferee on the legislation but was excluded from the final negotiations.

Tonight, he accused Republicans of “packing it with every kind of gimmick and sleight of hand I have ever seen.”

“It's one big fraud on the American people,” Mr. Rangel said. [The New York Times, 5/26/01, (emphasis added)]

Knight Ridder: Sunset “Accounting Move Drew Loud Protests From Democrats.” Knight Ridder reported at the time of the bill's passage:

House and Senate negotiators came up with a package of tax cuts totaling $1.35 trillion over 10 years. Initially, the tax cut was spread over 11 years, but tax writers packed more cuts into the package by making them expire in 2010. That allowed them to meet 10-year congressional budget requirements by claiming no loss of revenue in 2011.

The accounting move drew loud protests from Democrats, who argued it was simply a gimmick. Lawmakers conceded that it would be nearly impossible politically to restore current tax cuts 10 years. If the tax cuts continue into 2011, as Bush and Congress had originally intended the cost of the package would be about $1.7 trillion, analysts said Saturday.

“This is good short-term politics; it is disastrous long-term policy,” Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.[Knight Ridder Washington bureau, 5/27/01, from Nexis (emphasis added)]