MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer falsely claimed of Sen. John McCain's reversal on tax cuts that McCain “didn't want to vote for it because he didn't see cuts in spending and he wants to see a fiscally responsible government,” and she also falsely suggested that McCain did not change his position on the issue of immigration.
During the 4 p.m. ET hour of the February 13 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Contessa Brewer defended Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) reversal on tax cuts by claiming that McCain “didn't want to vote for it because he didn't see cuts in spending and he wants to see a fiscally responsible government,” and asking Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), “Isn't that a pretty staunch conservative stand?” In fact, in 2001, McCain did not mention the absence of offsetting spending cuts; rather, he said in a floor statement during the debate on the conference committee report of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 that he opposed President Bush's 2001 tax cuts because they unfairly benefited the wealthy, stating that he could not “in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief.”
Furthermore, after Blackburn said that on the issue of immigration, McCain had “changed his position on securing the border first,” Brewer stated: "[D]o you think it's so much that he's changed his position, or he's just more accurately detailing why he voted that way? For instance, with the illegal immigration bill, he said, 'Look, it's not that I'm against securing the border. I know you guys care about securing the border; so do I. I just wanted these other things to happen too, but I'm willing to say, let's secure the borders first.' " In fact, McCain has changed his position on whether the border could be secured before other changes to immigration law were made. He previously said that border security could not be disaggregated from other provisions in legislation on comprehensive immigration reform, or else it would be ineffective. Additionally, during CNN's January 30 Republican presidential debate, McCain asserted that he “would not” now support his own comprehensive immigration proposal if it came to a vote on the Senate floor.
From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the February 13 edition of MSNBC Live:
BREWER: Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and John McCain is hoping that conservatives are willing to show him a little more love. The Arizona senator would like nothing more than for his previous critics to embrace him with open arms. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is a Republican from Tennessee. Congresswoman, great to see you today.
BLACKBURN: Good to see you.
BREWER: All right. Now let's talk about this. How did you stand before it looked like John McCain was going to become the presumptive nominee?
BLACKBURN: Well, I had been a supporter of Fred Thompson, who is from Tennessee, and also of Governor [Mitt] Romney. And Senator McCain came before us this morning for our Republican conference, and, Contessa, he did a very nice job. Pled his case, talked about his platform, talked about his support of the military, talked about how he has joined so many of us through the years in fighting runaway government spending and earmarks.
BREWER: Congresswoman, I'm curious, because I know the big issues that sort of stick in these conservatives' craw are two things. His support of President Bush's illegal immigration bill, and also his stand against the tax cuts early on in the Bush administration. He's explained both of those. He's said in the first case, with the tax cuts, he didn't want to vote for it because he didn't see cuts in spending and he wants to see a fiscally responsible government. Isn't that a pretty staunch conservative stand?
BLACKBURN: Well, you know, it is, and you're right on that. But I think we have to keep in mind a couple of things. Number one is this: We're never going to agree with somebody on everything. And number two, he has changed his position on securing the border first and he's changed his position on the tax cuts, and now that we have had a 51-month expansion of the economy --
BREWER: Well, do you think it's so much -- do you think it's so much that he's changed his position, or he's just more accurately detailing why he voted that way? For instance, with the illegal immigration bill, he said, “Look, it's not that I'm against securing the border. I know you guys care about securing the border; so do I. I just wanted these other things to happen too, but I'm willing to say, let's secure the borders first.”
BLACKBURN: Yeah, well, and what he is doing is saying, “Let's prioritize these issues.” Now, there are many of us that are government-reform advocates, if you will, and who want to reduce the size of the federal budget and get this spending under control, who say, “Let's use this as a time to reduce what the federal government spends, to have priorities in our budget.” We should be, now that we're in, you know, we've been a nation at war. We should use that to prioritize this budget. And I think --
BREWER: Do you think that he's --
BLACKBURN: -- he's showing a willingness to prioritize items and say, “You're right. Securing the border first should be the very first thing that is discussed when we discuss immigration.” I think that's the right step for him.
BREWER: Real quickly here, do you think that he can win over Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter?
BLACKBURN: You know, I never speak for anybody else, but I will say this: I think that he is making the right steps in showing, first of all, that he did realize that maybe some things need to be put in order and prioritized and first steps first; that he admits that the tax cuts did work. Now, as time goes on, I think that we're going to unite, because we know John McCain as president is going to be far superior to a Hillary Clinton or a Barack Obama as president, because they are going to stand to defend this -- we're going to stand, John McCain is going to stand to defend this nation and make certain that we continue to fight terrorists, that we have national security, economic security, that we have border security, that we keep a focus on moral security. And I believe he's going to address retirement security for all of our citizens.
BREWER: Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, I appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.
BLACKBURN: Contessa, thank you so much.