Media fail to challenge Republicans on past acts of massive debt creation
Research ››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN
Television news hosts have repeatedly hosted Republican members of Congress who have attacked President Obama's budget, but those media figures have failed to ask these officials about their support of various legislation that contributed to the more than $2 trillion increase in the publicly held debt under President Bush.
In the past month, television news hosts have repeatedly hosted Republican members of Congress who attacked President Obama's budget proposal or other fiscal policies by arguing that they add too much to the national debt. However, these media figures have repeatedly failed to ask these elected officials about their support of various major laws and actions that contributed to the more than $2 trillion increase in the publicly held national debt under President Bush.
Indeed, in interviewing Rep. Eric Cantor (VA), Sen. Judd Gregg (NH), Sen. Susan Collins (ME), Sen. John Ensign (NV), Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL), Sen. John Cornyn (TX), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), media figures did not note that each of them supported two or more of the following pieces of legislation:
- The tax-cut bills of 2001 and 2003 -- the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA), respectively
- The budget resolutions for fiscal years 2002 and 2004, which provided for consideration of the 2001 and 2003 tax-cut bills under the budget reconciliation process.
- The 2003 Medicare prescription-drug benefit
Examples of Republican members of Congress complaining about projected deficits under Obama's budget not being challenged by members of the media regarding their support for these and other debt-increasing measures include the following (all transcripts reprinted from the Nexis database):
Rep. Eric Cantor (VA)
From the March 25 broadcast of NBC's Today:
ANN CURRY (co-host): Do you trust the president when he says that he's going to tackle more fully this question of cutting the deficit once he's figured out a way to help this economy move forward?
CANTOR: Again, we've got to make the tough choices, just as people watching this show are trying to make every morning. They're getting ready to go -- to go and drop off their kids at school and go to work. They're worried about their family finances. We've got to do the same thing here in Washington. Now the bottom line is, the tough choices are not being made, and by amassing huge, trillions of dollars worth of debt on the backs of our children is not the way forward. It is not that we have to go and ramp up spending right now, we've got to address the critical problems facing the economy right now, and in order to do that, we've got to focus on the people who actually are out there that need to jump back into the game and create jobs.
CURRY: Well, one -- part of that group includes Wall Street and people who are investing, and one of the things that the president said last night, and I should ask this specifically of you as one of the 85 Republicans who voted with the Democrats for taxing executives who get bonus money up to 90 percent, I mean, what did you think about the president saying that it's time for Wall Street and Main Street to now work together, to calm -- create a common purpose, because that's going to be what it takes to fix this economy, Congressman?
CANTOR: Well, I mean, first of all, as to the direction of this budget and where we need to go, we've got to provide the relief to the job creators. The president's budget taxes the very employers that employ one in four jobs in this country, the small businesses. So you can't go and say you want to create jobs by taxing job creators. Our budget will come back and say, look, we want a growth-oriented economy. We want to provide tax incentives and tax cuts to small businesses and working families, something that this budget doesn't do. But if you look at the situation on Wall Street and the investors around this country who want to look to their 401(k)s and their IRAs for retirement security, we have got to go in and provide some more transparency. We cannot be using taxpayer dollars to bail out institutions that have failed.
CURRY: All right, Congressman.
CANTOR: And that is the real challenge facing many people today wondering how is that fair.
From the March 27 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): We heard from Peter Orszag, the president's budget guy, a couple of days of ago and he said: You know, whatever's going on up on Capitol Hill, the president's going to wind up with 98 percent of what he wants.
Do you think that's accurate?
CANTOR: Well, I sure hope that is not accurate, because Steve, I mean, what we've seen in the Obama budget is the largest expansion of government in history. And the way that they're expanding government is by increasing spending. We don't have the money to spend, so they're increasing borrowing to unprecedented levels.
And what that means for every man, woman and child is the doubling of the debt. Right now, each person in this country is responsible for $35,000 of debt owed. And now with the Obama budget, it will be $70,000 worth of debt.
You know, I believe, Steve, that this country is on the verge of a spending and borrowing revolt. And if the people speak out, we can stop this tremendous expansion of government.
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): Well, the Republicans are about to speak out, because yesterday you unveiled your alternative -- at least a blueprint for what the alternative will be -- to the Democrats' budget plan.
I found it interesting that it was only 19 pages, compared to the 142 pages of the Obama budget. Was there symbolism in that?
DOOCY: Were you low on toner?
CANTOR: (Laughs.) I think, Gretchen and Steve, you can take some symbolism in that.
I mean, obviously, our budget's going to be focused on job growth, on creating wealth, creating prosperity. And as we've seen in the Obama budget, it's all about wealth redistribution. And the most that you can get out of a government-spending plan is that.
And our budget says: Look, let's get a responsible spending plan that can match the needs of the families who are anxious out there. Every morning they wake up worried about their job, wondering of they're still going to have their health care. And our plan is a reasonable attempt to provide some fiscal sanity to the government.
DOOCY: Congressman, standby, because we've got an urgent pressing issue. We wanted to ask you about the Britney Spears concert you had to go to.
He's actually got a very good explanation or is it spin? You'll hear from him on the other side of this time out.
Sen. Judd Gregg (NH)
Media figures did not note that Gregg voted for the EGTRRA, the JGTRRA, and the budget resolutions for fiscal years 2002 and 2004. Indeed, Gregg was a member of the conference committee that hammered out the final fiscal year 2004 budget resolution.
From the March 26 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
JOE SCARBOROUGH (co-host): When did the federal government get to the point where it could do absolutely everything it wanted to do all at one time? Because that appears to be where the White House is, and people wildly applaud.
GREGG: Yeah, well, that's what people elected, obviously, a Democratic Congress, a Democratic president. And President Obama has said very clearly that what he intends to do is significantly expand the size of government, take it radically to the left and, by doing that, create prosperity.
I happen to disagree with that philosophy. I don't think you create prosperity by increasing the debt, increasing taxes, and increasing the burden of the federal government on the marketplace. That's the difference between my philosophy and his philosophy.
But he's in charge, and they've got the votes here in the Congress, and they're going to pass a budget which radically increases spending, taxing, and borrowing, doubles the debt in two years, triples it in 10 -- in five -- doubles it in five years, triples it in 10 years and puts us on a trillion-dollar deficit for as far as the eye can see.
And I don't think we can sustain it, but that's what we're going to get.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Senator, you're not alone. The Congressional Budget Office and the new budget director that was appointed by the Democratic Congress says the numbers don't add up. It's unsustainable and, in effect, the Obama budget will bankrupt America.
Why isn't Congress listening to the Congressional Budget Office?
GREGG: Well, because they're listening to the president and the president and his party control the Congress.
The problem here is that they're going to take the deficit up to about 4 (percent) or 5 percent of GDP and keep that at that level for the next 10 years and then beyond. And that takes the debt up to 80 percent -- the public debt up to 80 percent of gross national product.
Now, you cannot, under any circumstances, sustain a system where the public debt is 80 percent of gross national product. To get in -- to try to put it in this perspective, to get into the E.U., a nation has to have its public debt at 30 percent or less of gross national product, and its deficit under 3 percent.
So essentially, we won't even be able to get into the E.U., if we wanted to -- which hopefully we don't. But that's the type of threshold which we couldn't meet because our government is going to get so large and the borrowing is going to get so huge.
And what you do -- the bottom line here, the real problem is you pass on to our kids a country they can't afford, because they either are going to be taxed at a level that makes the nation nonproductive in order to pay this, or you're going to have to inflate the economy and devalue the dollar.
SCARBOROUGH: Senator, let's underline that statement again. The European Union obviously doesn't want countries that are banana republics economically in their union, because it would be a drain.
GREGG: There's nobody -- Jim, nobody's arguing the fact that in the short term we're going to have to run these deficits up. We're going to have to put a lot of -- the last source of liquidity is the federal government.
And you're right; the European Union has not faced up to their problems, and they're totally dysfunctional on the issue of stabilizing their financial industry.
But it's not the short term that's the issue here; it's the long term. When you get past three or four years, we're not going to have this recession, and yet you're still going to be running trillion-dollar deficits and you're going to run the capital -- the cost -- the debt-to-equity ratios up to 80 percent.
Look, we can't tolerate that over the long run. In the short run, yes, but in the long run, you can't tolerate it.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (co-host): You make a lot of sense.
JIM CRAMER (CNBC host): Yes, he does.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Senator, thank you for being with us. And I hope you'll come back, because we all agree we need to talk to you a good bit more.
BRZEZINSKI: We need more time with him.
GREGG: I'd be honored. Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much, Senator Judd Gregg.
From the March 22 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
JOHN KING (host): Let's move to the budget and your concerns. You just heard Dr. [Christina] Romer, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, she's not ready to give yet, but I know on your committee, the Budget Committee, you look at these new congressional projections and say, "Sorry, Mr. President, the math doesn't add up." What does the president have to give from his agenda, whether it be health care, education, the environment, what has to give to meet your bottom line?
GREGG: Well, first, I think your listeners have to understand how staggering the numbers are. We're talking about a deficit in the trillion-dollar range for as far as the eye can see. We're talking about deficits which are 4 percent to 5 percent of GDP, which is not sustainable under any form of government.
We're talking about a public debt -- this is the debt that people own of the federal government that will be around 80 percent of GDP. Historically, it's been around 40 percent of GDP in the out-years.
The practical implications of this is bankruptcy for the United States. There's no other way around it. If we maintain the proposals which are in this budget over the 10-year period that this budget covers, this country will go bankrupt. People will not buy our debt; our dollar will become devalued.
It is a very severe situation. And I find it almost unconscionable that this administration is essentially saying, well, we're just going to blithely go along on this course of action after they're getting these numbers which show that they're not -- they're not sustainable, and they know they're not sustainable.
The way I've described it, it's as if you were flying an airplane, and the gas light came on, and said you've got 15 minutes of gas left, and the pilot said, "Oh, we're not going to worry about that. We're going to fly for another two hours." Well, the plane crashes and our country will crash. And we'll pass on to our kids a country that's not affordable.
That's not fair to our kids. No generation should do this to another generation; that's what this comes down to. The president keeps talking about how he doesn't want to pass the problems onto the next generation? What he's guaranteeing here in his budget structure are problems which our children aren't going to be able to survive with. They're just basically not going to be able to pay the price of the cost of the government.
And it is primarily a spending issue. The proposal in this budget is to take federal spending up to 23 percent of gross national product and keep it there. Well, historically, gross national product spending in this country has been about 20 percent of GDP or the federal government has taken about 20 percent of gross national product.
When you take it up 3 percent, it doesn't sound like much, but it calculates into massive deficits and massive debt, where it -- the budget as proposed doubles the debt in 5 years, triples it in 10 years, and basically puts this country in an untenable position.
So we've got to go back, and we've got to reorganize. And what I've said, and what Senator [Kent] Conrad [D-ND] has said, and what others in the Senate have been willing to say, let's go back, rethink this in a bipartisan way, let's take a look at where the real spending is, which is in the entitlement accounts, and figure out how we get them under control and get their growth rates into something we can tolerate so that we do pass on to our kids an affordable government.
KING: Senator, let me ask you lastly -- we're out of time -- but when you decided not to take the commerce secretary job and to remain in the Senate, you also said you would not seek re-election in 2010. Any second thoughts about that decision?
From the 9 a.m. ET hour of Fox News Live on March 25:
MEGYN KELLY (anchor): So here's the question for you, President Obama coming out forcefully last night and standing behind his plans to revamp health care, energy, education, you name it at a time when we're in a recession, saying now is the time and those items are inseparable from the efforts to turn this recession around.
Your response to that, sir?
GREGG: Well, I don't happen to think that you create prosperity by radically increasing the size and the burden of the government on the American people, and essentially running up the debt of the government to a point where it probably isn't sustainable. If you look at what he's proposing, he's proposing adding more debt to the American taxpayer through the government than any president in our history and, in fact, if you take all the presidents since George Washington through George W. Bush, he's going to add more debt than they did cumulatively in the first four years of his administration. He doubles the debt in five years, triples it in ten years, that's all because he wants to expand government dramatically because he believes prosperity is a function of having a larger government. We happen to disagree with that.
KELLY: Do you believe that his budget plan, Senator, could, in fact, bankrupt the United States of America?
GREGG: Well, if you look at the numbers that came out of CBO, it puts us on a path that's not sustainable; basically, you've got deficits that exceed four to five percent of GDP as far as the eye can see. You run up the public debt to 80 percent of GDP. Historically, countries which have those types of numbers do not survive financially; they're banana republics.
KELLY: Do you foresee because I hear you saying that, I think, that's never going to happen in the United States, come on, I mean, it's the United States of America, we're not going to go bankrupt, we're not going to be a banana republic and many of our viewers may be thinking of that now as well. How do you respond to that?
GREGG: Look at the numbers. Regrettably, if you look at these numbers, he's increasing the size of the government so quickly and to such a level as a percentage of the Gross National Product that he creates a situation which we can't pay for the government and if you can't pay for the government, one or two things happens, either you create huge inflation in order to try to pay the bills, it's called monetarizing the debt or else you default on your debt. Neither of those are acceptable alternatives, but if you stay on a course, which doesn't give you many options, they occur, I mean, that's just the way it works.
If you continue to run a deficit of four to five percent of GDP, $1 trillion a year, if you average out his deficit as a $1 trillion a year over the next ten years and you add $9 trillion of debt, how are you going to pay for it? Well, I don't think you can, I really don't think you can.
KELLY: You know, his message last night when asked about that was, look, for all those critics out there and particularly the Republican critics of this budget and there are some Democrats as well, we haven't seen an alternative budget from you, so you know, until you sort of put up, you ought to shut up. Those are my words; not his. But what about that? The Democrats have been trying to cast the Republicans as the party of no because they criticize what Obama does, President Obama and they don't offer a meaningful alternative.
GREGG: Well, the way we're going to address that is we're going to address it through amendments; we don't control the Congress, you know, we've got 41 votes here in the Senate. They only need 51 to pass their budget, so we're not going to be able to pass a budget, but we will propose a series of initiatives which are positive. We will propose, for example, that in the area of energy that rather than nationalizing our system and basically creating a national sales tax, which is his proposal on everybody's electric bill, that we rather drill for more American energy and conserve more energy.
We will propose in the health care area that instead of increasing health care spending by another $1 trillion, more than $1 trillion as he proposes, that we live within the health care numbers we already have. We're spending 17 percent of Gross National Product on health care, that's five percent more than any other industrialized country. It's a huge amount of money and we can pay for our health care needs for everyone using those types of dollars.
KELLY: What do you make -- sorry, Senator --
GREGG: And there are other proposals, there are a number of other proposals we're going to put forward which are positive and which will get us a better government at an affordable cost.
KELLY: I want to ask you before I let you go about Senator Kent Conrad's proposal because he's a Democrat and they've come up with a bit of an alternative to the president's proposal, it's a scaled-back version, but it still has a lot of his priorities in it. Is that something you could get behind?
GREGG: No. Regrettably, Senator Conrad, although he's tried and he's in a difficult position, of course, because he does want to do something about the debt, but he's been given a budget from the president which does just the opposite, it explodes the debt. Unfortunately, he's going back to a lot of what I call the old gimmicks for getting the deficit down. He's counting tax revenues, which we won't get. He's not counting spending, which we know are going to have to have in the fourth and fifth year. That's not really a very good way to get to the issue.
The issue is the government can't be allowed to grow as quickly as this president and this Democratic Congress wants it to grow and be affordable. You can't take government from 20 percent of GDP up to 23 percent of GDP and expect to afford it and so we've got to scale back on the size of government. We've got to scale back on spending, it's pretty much that simple.
KELLY: We've got to pull in the waists and tighten the belts. Good luck with that, Senator Judd Gregg. We appreciate you coming on as always. All the best to you.
GREGG: Thank you. Okay.
Sen. Susan Collins (ME)
On the March 22 broadcast of ABC's This Week, host George Stephanopoulos stated, "They say the deficit will actually be $2.3 trillion higher over the next 10 years than the President estimates." He later asked Collins, "Can you support his budget?" Collins said, "No," and later added: "Because it brings our debt levels to an unprecedented level. ... It poses a threat to the basic health of our economy." Stephanopoulos did not note that Collins voted for the EGTRRA, the JGTRRA, the budget resolutions for fiscal years 2002 and 2004, and the Medicare prescription-drug benefit.
From the March 22 broadcast of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on to the President's budget that's going to start to be considered in both the House and the Senate this week, and we all saw the reports on Friday from the Congressional Budget Office saying that the President's economic assumptions were a little too optimistic according to the Congressional Budget Office. They say the deficit will actually be $2.3 trillion higher over the next 10 years than the President estimates, and, Senator Collins, you supported President Obama on the stimulus package.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Can you support his budget?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not?
COLLINS: Because it brings our debt levels to an unprecedented level. It would double the public debt in five years, triple it in ten years, the highest percentage of GDP since after World War II. CBO says by the year 2019, 82% of GDP. That's the equivalent of the public debt. That is not sustainable. It poses a threat to the basic health of our economy.
Sen. John Ensign (NV)
From the March 28 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
ENSIGN: Well, listen, we all have to hope whatever, whether you're against something or not, you have to hope that it works. Because we want the economy to recover. I want people in my state to do better. I don't want them to lose their homes. I want them to be able to have jobs. But I am concerned at some of the things that they're doing will not work. We did have a proposal that at least the homebuilders in my state and a lot of homeowners thought would have worked as an alternate to the stimulus bill. And that $15,000 tax credit, the homebuilders are not coming back to us and say, why did that get stripped out? We said, you know what, Republicans weren't in that conference committee when that got stripped out.
WOLF BLITZER (host): Here's what the president said at his news conference. Listen to this.
OBAMA: We haven't seen an alternative budget item and the reason is, because they know that, in fact, the biggest driver of long-term deficits are the huge health care costs that we've got out here.
BLITZER: Talking about you, you're in the Republican leadership. Where is your alternative plan as far as the budget is concerned?
ENSIGN: Sure. Actually, what we're going to do is we're going to offer an alternative plan by amendment.
BLITZER: So no one formal plan?
ENSIGN: You don't need to do one formal plan. You take their basic structure and you radically amend it. We're going to have some huge amendments that will show a different vision forward that won't --
BLITZER: Give me an example.
ENSIGN: Well, first of all, we'll have an amendment as far as cap and trade is concerned. We don't want -- we don't want a massive electricity and an energy tax put on the American people.
BLITZER: Even if it's going to reduce carbon emissions and make the planet safer?
ENSIGN: I don't think the average family can afford an additional $3,000 per year being taken away from their budget. That's not -- that's not the right thing to do. The other thing is, is the massive amount of spending that goes into this bill. We end up running up our children's credit cards to the point where today we spend about $180 billion a year on interest per year. That's what we pay on our debt which is a massive amount right now. By the end of this 10-year president's budget, it goes to over $800 billion a year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: John Ensign, the Republican senator from Nevada.
From the March 25 edition of CNBC's Power Lunch:
BILL GRIFFETH (co-anchor): All right, Rick. Thanks very much. Quick question, Jesse, for the Senator.
JESSE EISINGER (Wall Street editor for Condé Nast Portfolio): Yes. Senator Ensign, you know, even David Brooks, conservative columnist from The New York Times has said that the Republican approach is insane when you talk about cutting spending, government spending, who is going to step in? So I'm trying to understand the GOP approach here.
What is the approach if you think that the budget is and the stimulus is the wrong approach?
ENSIGN: Well, first of all, I offered an alternative to the stimulus package. It would have fixed housing first. We had a three pronged approach where we would have lowered interest rates and it would set them to more of what the historic norm is about 130 bases points that would have floated with the ten-year Treasury. We would have given a $15,000 tax credit to anybody who wanted to buy a home and then we put money in there for mitigation, for those who are facing foreclosure.
We did that along with other business tax credits, whether it was the things like the NOL, the Net Loss Carryback that's very important for a lot of companies to be able to survive. We cut the two lowest marginal tax rates to make sure that more people had money in their own pockets to be able to spend and do the way that they thought best.
I was talking about spending in the long-term. You know, the president's budget has nothing to do with the short-term. It has everything to do with the long-term. His budget is actually spending huge amounts of money when the economy actually recovers and what he does, you know, the budget deficit goes from $1.8 trillion to over $1 trillion. It averages almost a trillion dollars the entire ten years.
ENSIGN: Well, supposedly, we'll have recovered by then, that kind of debt, that kind of spending is not sustainable and what we're doing is we're mortgaging our children's future and that literally is a moral [sic: immoral] to do. We should be a generation that says, we want the next generation to have it better than we have it and you're not going to do that by piling this huge debt burden on them, which means that they're going to have pay a lot higher tax rates into the future.
GRIFFETH: All right. Senator, always good to see you. Thank you for your time.
ENSIGN: Nice to be with you all.
GRIFFETH: John Ensign of Nevada joining us today.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL)
From the March 30 edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports:
ANDREA MITCHELL (host): I know that your House colleagues, Mike Pence [R-IN] and others, presented a House version of the budget, their budget, alternative budget, last year. They were slammed, criticized for not having any details.
Do you in the Senate plan to come up with an alternative with a detailed program to counteract -- to challenge what the president and the Senate Democrats are doing?
SESSIONS: Well, you know, the president's got all the agencies and departments and all the -- and it's responsibility to submit a budget. An individual group of congressmen have a very difficult time writing a comprehensive budget for the United States.
The question is, how long will it take to pass this budget? It seems they have the votes. Moderates have really expressed, moderate Democrats, a lot of concern, but it looks like they're just going to go and vote for it.
So, yes, it's too much. If Republicans don't fight on this issue, then they really have failed, I think, the republic at this historic time. The surge in 10 years under the president's own budget to triple the entire debt of the United States, to raise the interest payment from 170 (billion dollars) this year to $806 billion in the 10th year of the budget -- eight times what we spend on education today just in interest in one year -- this is -- this is a budget that cannot be sustained. It really needs to be stopped, and somehow it needs to be slowed down. But right now, it's -- it looks like the train is moving.
MITCHELL: Let me ask you about this auto deal, because this obviously will have some budget impact. What do you think about what the president announced today?
From the March 23 edition of CNBC's The Call:
BOB PISANI (on-air stocks editor): Republican Senator Jeff Sessions is raising loud concerns about the president's budget plan, saying it sets the nation on a dangerous and unsustainable course. The Alabama senator joins us now from Capitol Hill.
Senator, welcome. I know you've been a critic of the president's budget plan, but before we get to that, let me ask you about [Treasury] Secretary [Timothy] Geithner's public-private partnership and your thoughts on whether or not it will be successful in helping out the banks' problems.
PISANI: Before we let you go, Senator, you called the -- you said the budget was setting America on an unsustainable course. Can you just give us 10 seconds on why you are so concerned about the budget?
SESSIONS: Well, it's unbelievable. In '07, the budget was 161 billion (dollars). This year, it will be 1.8 trillion (dollars) and according to CBO it will average a trillion dollars a year for the next 10 years. And there's no drop in the deficit. They continue, actually, going up in the outer years. It's an unsustainable budget. Our entire economy is at stake.
We've got to have Democrats push back, because they've got the votes to pass it. This week we'll have budget hearings. It's just critical that Democrats who say they believe in financial responsibility stand up and are counted this week.
PISANI: Senator Jeff Sessions, thanks very much for joining us.
Sen. John Cornyn (TX)
While interviewing Cornyn on the March 26 edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports, Mitchell stated of Obama's budget: "[Y]ou've said spending is out of control. As you see the budget now emerging from House and Senate committees, it's scaled back somewhat. Do you think it is still out of control?" Cornyn responded, in part, "Under the president's budget, the federal debt would double in five years and would triple in ten years and then the last point I would make is that it does virtually nothing about entitlement spending, which is Medicare and Social Security for which there are currently $67 trillion in unfunded federal liabilities. So we have a huge problem here, and unfortunately, I think, this budget makes it worse and not better." Mitchell did not note that Cornyn voted for the JGTRRA, the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, and the budget resolution for fiscal year 2004 (Cornyn was not a member of the House of Representatives or Senate before 2003 and therefore did not vote on the EGTRRA or the 2002 budget):
From the March 26 edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports:
MITCHELL: Senator, one of the things -- I want to take you to the budget now because one of the things that you've said about President Obama's budget is that it is a series of missed opportunities and misguided priorities, which includes some new taxes on hardworking, middle class families and small businesses and you've said spending is out of control.
As you see the budget now emerging from House and Senate committees, it's scaled back somewhat. Do you think it is still out of control?
CORNYN: Well, Andrea, the main reason why it's scaled back is because it only is a five-year budget as opposed to President Obama's ten-year budget, but it still spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much.
We've seen, really, reckless spending here in Washington over the last couple of months with the stimulus bill that was printed and distributed at 11 o'clock on Thursday night and we were required to vote on it less than 24 hours later, which left a lot to be desired to say the least, part of which gave rise to the AIG bonus outcry because provisions were literally slipped in the bill that nobody had the time to discover on their own and which weren't identified beforehand. But what concerns me the most is the fact that all of this or virtually of this is borrowed money, borrowed from our children and grandchildren and we're seeing a mountain of debt.
Under the president's budget, the federal debt would double in five years and would triple in ten years and then the last point I would make is that it does virtually nothing about entitlement spending, which is Medicare and Social Security for which there are currently $67 trillion in unfunded federal liabilities.
So we have a huge problem here, and unfortunately, I think, this budget makes it worse and not better.
MITCHELL: All right. John Cornyn, thank you so much for joining us today. I suspect this is only the first round in the budget wars of this cycle. Thank you very much, Senator.
CORNYN: Thanks, Andrea.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC)
On the March 25 edition of Fox News' Your World, Graham stated that Obama's budget "is going to kill the economy over time. It triples the national debt." But host Neil Cavuto did not point out that Graham voted for the JGTRRA and the budget resolution for fiscal year 2004, or that as a member of the House of Representatives in 2001, he voted for the EGTRRA and the budget resolution for fiscal year 2002.
From the March 25 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
CAVUTO: Stocks up as the economy keeps looking up. Orders for big-ticket items, those are big factory items that cover everything from refrigerators to airplanes, surging last month. New home sales up nearly 5 percent, mortgage refinancings soaring more than 40 percent just last week. Proof we don't need the nearly $4 trillion budget the president's pushing on Capitol Hill today? Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says yes. He sits on the Budget Committee.
Senator, you might have got some ammo here, huh?
GRAHAM: Yeah. Well, number one, this budget is going to kill the economy over time. It triples the national debt. In 2019 under the president's budget, we will spend $805 billion to service the interest on the national debt, more than the Defense Department's entire budget. So this is an economic disaster awaiting this country if we pass this budget.
CAVUTO: Now, the administration is going to turn around, Senator, and say, some of these signs of improvement are the direct result of our spending, so we've got to spend more. What do you say?
GRAHAM: Well, I say that home sales going up is probably a sign of better credit. And there are some good deals out there. But 5 percent, given how much home sales are off, is something to be happy about but not to overly celebrate. There are some good deals out there, but we've got to make credit available to the average American to get the economy going. And if you want to create jobs, cut the taxes of people who are hiring folks. The spending we're engaging in is going to bite us in the butt down the road, and it's going to create inflation. We're just throwing money at every conceivable aspect of the economy. And if you just cut taxes and lowered interest rates and sort of, you know, spent wisely, it would be better than what we're doing.
CAVUTO: You know, I spoke to a remarkable young man -- I call him a young man because he's a lot younger than me -- Daniel Hannan, a leading opposition figure in Parliament.
GRAHAM: Yeah, I heard him, I heard him.
CAVUTO: Many argue he could be the next prime minister there. But one of the things he said is it's very tough for government officials sometimes to acknowledge that they shouldn't do anything, and that in the middle of a crisis it takes maybe some courage to say, stand down. I'm paraphrasing there, but what do you make of that, that we, with the best of intentions, are making a bad situation worse?
GRAHAM: Well, I think those of us that voted for TARP I did it in spite of public support because we believed what [former Bush Treasury Secretary Hank] Paulson and others were saying about the imminent collapse of banks, and the Great Depression was an example of where people refused to act when they could. But his point is well-taken about this. You don't spend your way out of a recession. They tried that for about 10 years in the '30s and went nowhere. So what we need to do is keep our tax rates low so the job creators will have a chance to create jobs and create consumer demand by having smart government programs that stimulate the economy and get inventories down. But no, you can't spend your way out of the economy but you can't sit on the sidelines either and ignore what I thought was a very bad moment in American economic history.
CAVUTO: All right. Senator Graham, always good seeing you. Thank you very much.
Sen. John McCain (AZ)
In addition to the interviews of elected officials discussed above, media figures did not note that, while McCain voted against many of the debt-increasing provisions in Bush's first term, during his 2008 campaign for the presidency, McCain proposed making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent. He also proposed repealing the alternative minimum tax (AMT). In a March 14, 2005, letter to then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the Congressional Budget Office projected that if the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts were made permanent and the AMT were adjusted to match -- an act less costly than the total repeal that McCain proposed -- the federal debt held by the public would surpass 140 percent of GDP by 2050.
From the March 8 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
CHRIS WALLACE (host): The stock market has dropped 20 percent since the Obama inauguration. Can this now fairly be called the Obama bear market?
McCAIN: No, I -- I think I'd leave -- like to leave that up to the experts. But I do believe that a $1.2 trillion stimulus package -- add that to a $750 billion TARP, add that to this $480 billion supplemental, add it to another TARP that's coming down -- massive deficits, and we are committing generational theft. We are laying a debt on future generations of Americans.
And we had proposal of spending $410 billion for a stimulus, yet after two quarters of economic growth, positive economic growth, we would have ordered a path to balanced budget.
What we're doing is phenomenal, not only as far as the debt is concerned, but the transfer of what the free enterprise system does over the government. It's -- it's the biggest since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
WALLACE: And do you think that is contributing to the decline in the market, the messages that the Obama administration is sending about its agenda?
McCAIN: I think so, but I -- I'm always a little nervous about allowing short-term market activity to drive our conclusions.
But I don't think there's any doubt, talking to friends of mine on Wall Street and people that I know, that this is not a positive signal. All of this spending, all of this debt, all of the policies that will now, in the long term, cause us to have a negative G.T. -- G.B ...
McCAIN: ... GDP of growth according to the Congressional Budget Office over time ...
WALLACE: What do you think of Treasury ...
McCAIN: ... of GDP.
From the noon ET hour of Fox News Live on March 26:
JANE SKINNER (anchor): I know. I was just reading the transcript of a speech that you just gave in the last couple of minutes before the Heritage Foundation, about five pages worth of concerns about what we're seeing from the president in this $3.6 trillion plan.
How do you propose not being in the party of power to get changes enacted or at least to change the course that he seems to be heading in?
McCAIN: It's going to be tough; elections have consequences, but we've got to take our case to the American people. Already, there are rising concerns about what we're committing, which is generational theft by mortgaging our kids' and our grandkids' futures. This is a budget guaranteed to have trillions of dollars of deficits forever and we can't sustain it.
SKINNER: You know the reputation has been that the Republicans are becoming the party of no and that critics have said voters aren't going to be listening because you're not offering anything concrete. How do you go about changing that?
McCAIN: Well, I'm not sure because we did have an alternative to the stimulus package, $410 billion instead of $690 (billion), whatever it was. We did have provisions for moving to a balanced budget. We have alternatives and that's why I feel we have an alternative budget, but we have been proposing alternatives.
SKINNER: Senator, I want to move and play a sound bite for our listeners from what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to say about the border concerns and I know, obviously, a concern close to your heart being from the state of Arizona and the situation we're seeing with such violence involving these drug deals in Phoenix.