New York Times' Brooks Manufactures Obama Inconsistency


New York Times columnist David Brooks claimed on Meet the Press that President Obama's recent comments to the Des Moines Register differed from his comments on the campaign trail. In fact, as Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne pointed out to Brooks, Obama has committed to comprehensive immigration reform, corporate tax reform, and a mix of spending cuts and tax increases on the wealthy just as he did in his remarks to the Register.

Obama Tells Des Moines Register Part Of His Agenda Includes Immigration, Fiscal, And Corporate Tax Reform

Obama Discussed His Plans For Immigration, Deficits, And Corporate Taxes In Interview With The Register. On October 24, Obama released the transcript of his previously off-the-record interview with the Des Moines Register. In the interview, Obama said he wanted to make "some adjustments in terms of the corporate tax side that could actually bring down the corporate tax overall, but broaden the base and close some loopholes." He also committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform in the first year of a second term, and he reaffirmed his support for deficit reduction that involves "$2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending." [, 10/24/12]

NY Times' Brooks Claimed Obama's Register Remarks Differ From His Campaign Remarks

New York Times' Brooks: Obama's Second Term Agenda "Nothing Like What He's been Talking About On The Trail." During the October 28 broadcast of Meet The Press, New York Times columnist David Brooks claimed that Obama had not spoken about corporate tax rate relief, comprehensive immigration reform or balanced deficit reduction on the campaign trail, but did talk about those issues in an off-the-record Des Moines Register interview:

BROOKS: Let me tell you -- I mean, if you want to talk about trust. What Obama is talking about on the trail -- first of all, there's no second-term agenda. Second, when he goes off the record with the Des Moines Register last week, he gives out a second-term agenda which is nothing like what he's been talking about on the trail.

E.J. DIONNE (Washington Post columnist): That's not true. That's not true at all.


BROOKS: Well, OK, wait. Let's talk about cutting corporate tax rates. Talking about weeding out immigration. He's talked immigration reform, which he has not talked about much in public.     

DIONNE: Yes, he has.

BROOKS: And then he's talked about a grand bargain with cutting spending $2.50 for every dollar of tax revenue. That's a much -

DIONNE: Which is his proposal he's put on the table.

BROOKS: That is not what he's been running on. [NBC, Meet The Press, 10/28/12]

In Fact, Obama's Comments In Register Interview Differ Little From His Campaign Platform


Obama: "I Believe In Comprehensive Immigration Reform." During a July 16 campaign event in Cincinnatti, Ohio, Obama said that he was in favor of comprehensive immigration reform:

OBAMA: Mr. Romney has the opposite view on almost all those positions.  On things like "don't ask, don't tell", Mr. Romney wants to reverse my position.  On issues like immigration -- I believe in comprehensive immigration reform; he does not.  On issues related to women, I believe that Planned Parenthood does a lot of good, and that women's health -- (applause) -- women should be able to control their own health care decisions.  (Applause.)  He does not. [, 7/16/12]

Obama: "We Should Have Comprehensive Immigration Reform." During a July 14 campaign event in Clifton, Virginia, Obama also pushed for comprehensive immigration reform:

OBAMA: My opponent believes that we should have our immigrants in this country -- if they were kids and were brought here through no fault of their own, and are Americans in every respect except a piece of paper -- that somehow we shouldn't show them the kind of compassion that we would show our own kids.  I disagree.  I think we should have comprehensive immigration reform -- (applause) -- because we're a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws, and we can have tough border security and improve our immigration system, but when I look out at what's happening in Virginia, our immigration is a strength not a weakness.  (Applause.)  That's a difference. [, 7/14/12]

Obama: "I Feel Very Strongly We've Got To Have Comprehensive Immigration Reform." During a June 1 campaign event in Chicago, Illinois, Obama also embraced a policy of comprehensive immigration reform:

OBAMA: There are going to be a lot of issues involved because we have probably as sharp a contrast between two candidates as we've seen in a very long time -- substantively.  I feel very strongly we've got to have comprehensive immigration reform. We're a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  Governor Romney has a different view.  I care very deeply about women's health issues.  Governor Romney thinks differently about those issues. [, 6/1/12]


Obama: Reduce The Deficit By Cutting $2.50 "For $1 Dollar Of Additional Revenue." During the October 4 presidential debate, Obama explained his approach to deficit reduction, saying that he would cut $2.50 for every $1 in new revenue:

OBAMA: Now, we all know that we've got to do more, and so I put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit reduction plan.  It's on a website, you can look at all the numbers -- what cuts we make and what revenue we raise.  And the way we do it is $2.50 for every cut we ask for $1 of additional revenue paid for, as I indicated earlier, by asking those of us who have done very well in this country to contribute a little bit more to reduce the deficit. [ 10/4/12]

  • Indeed, Some Progressives Have Criticized Obama For Cutting Spending Too Much. Some progressives have argued that Obama's proposals cut government spending too much. [Huffington Post, 4/8/11]

Obama: "We've Got To Reduce Our Deficit, But We've Got To Do It In A Balanced Way" During the October 17 presidential debate, Obama said that he wanted to lower the deficit but both taxing the wealthiest Americans and cutting spending:

OBAMA: We've got to reduce our deficit, but we've got to do it in a balanced way -- asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more along with cuts so that we can invest in education like yours.  And let's take the money that we've been spending on war over the last decade to rebuild America -- roads, bridges, schools.  We do those things, not only is your future going to be bright, but America's future is going to be bright as well. [, 10/17/12]

Obama: "I Am Going To Reduce The Deficit In A Balanced Way." During a July 13 campaign stop in Roanoke, Virginia, Obama committed to balanced deficit reduction:

OBAMA: I've got a different idea.  I do believe we can cut -- we've already made a trillion dollars' worth of cuts.  We can make some more cuts in programs that don't work, and make government work more efficiently.  (Applause.)  Not every government program works the way it's supposed to.  And frankly, government can't solve every problem.  If somebody doesn't want to be helped, government can't always help them.  Parents -- we can put more money into schools, but if your kids don't want to learn it's hard to teach them.  (Applause.)

But you know what, I'm not going to see us gut the investments that grow our economy to give tax breaks to me or Mr. Romney or folks who don't need them.  So I'm going to reduce the deficit in a balanced way.  We've already made a trillion dollars' worth of cuts.  We can make another trillion or trillion-two, and what we then do is ask for the wealthy to pay a little bit more.  (Applause.)  And, by the way, we've tried that before -- a guy named Bill Clinton did it.  We created 23 million new jobs, turned a deficit into a surplus, and rich people did just fine.  We created a lot of millionaires. [, 7/13/12]


Obama Promised Corporate Tax Reform "That Simplifies The Tax Code, Eliminates Dozens Of Tax Loopholes And Subsidies, And Promotes Job Creation. In a February 22 statement, Obama called for reform of the corporate tax structure:

OBAMA: Our current corporate tax system is outdated, unfair, and inefficient.   It provides tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas and hits companies that choose to stay in America with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  It is unnecessarily complicated and forces America's small businesses to spend countless hours and dollars filing their taxes. It's not right, and it needs to change. 

That's why my administration released a framework for reform that simplifies the tax code, eliminates dozens of tax loopholes and subsidies, and promotes job creation right here at home.  It's a framework that lowers the corporate tax rate and broadens the tax base in order to increase competitiveness for companies across the nation.  It cuts tax rates even further for manufacturers that are creating new products and manufacturing goods here in America. [, 2/22/12]

Obama: Proposed Corporate Tax Reform During First Presidential Debate. During the October 4 presidential debate in Denver, Colorado, Obama argued that the U.S. corporate tax rate should be lowered and that corporate tax loopholes should be closed, saying, "When it comes to our tax code, Governor Romney and I both agree that our corporate tax rate is too high.  So I want to lower it, particularly for manufacturing, taking it down to 25 percent.  But I also want to close those loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas -- I want to provide tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the United States." [, 10/04/12]

Obama: Also Proposed Corporate Tax Reform During Second Presidential Debate. During the October 17 presidential debate at Hofstra University, Obama again argued that the U.S. corporate tax rate is too high, saying, "Both Governor Romney and I agree actually that we should lower our corporate tax rate.  It's too high.  But there's a difference in terms of how we would do it.  I want to close loopholes that allow companies to deduct expenses when they move to China that allow them to profit offshore and not have to get taxed, so they have tax advantages offshore." [, 10/17/12]

Posted In
Economy, Taxes, Immigration
The New York Times
David Brooks
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