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Russert Grumbles Tax Cuts Are "Draining Money from the Treasury" --2/9/2004


1. Russert Grumbles Tax Cuts Are "Draining Money from the Treasury"
Tim Russert told President Bush, on Sunday's Meet the Press, how conservatives are "saying you are the biggest spender in American history." But even after Bush brought up Medicare prescription coverage, instead of pouncing on that huge program, Russert, true to his record of being much more concerned with undoing tax cuts than in cutting spending, saved his scoldings for the tax cuts. Russert lectured Bush: "Every President since the Civil War who has gone to war has raised taxes, not cut them.... Why not say, I will not cut taxes any more until we have balanced the budget?" Russert assumed all money belongs to the government, not people who earn it, as he bemoaned: "Why do you keep cutting taxes and draining money from the treasury?" Russert recommended: "How about no more tax cuts until the budget is balanced?"

2. Reuters: "Kerry Presidency Seen a Boon for U.S. Markets"
"Kerry Presidency Seen a Boon for U.S. Markets," declared the headline over a story distributed by Reuters on Friday which contended that "experts say" a Kerry victory "would be good for Wall Street, which likes the way he talks up balancing the budget." The British news agency was so proud of the story that it featured it on its home page in "The Reuters Edge" slot, plugged as "recommended reading" for the day.

3. Plante Frets McCain Willing to Give Bush "a Pass" on Intel Use
John McCain is usually the media's hero, but he apparently disappointed CBS's Bill Plante when he said he doesn't believe President Bush manipulated intelligence data regarding Iraq. In a Friday story on Bush naming a commission to evaluate intelligence gathering, Plante noted that McCain "is seen as an independent," but fretted that "today even he seemed ready to give the President a pass." NBC's Lisa Myers applied an ideological tag to only one member of the commission: "Federal judge Laurence Silberman, a conservative Republicans and close friend of Vice President Cheney."

4. CBS Emphasizes the Negative in Declining Unemployment Numbers
Emphasizing the negative. Dan Rather opened Friday's CBS Evening News by kvetching: "Not a va-room, but a putt, putt, putt. Tonight, America's economic engine creates some new jobs, but not nearly enough to replace the thousands lost." Anthony Mason ended his story on a downer as he pointed out that the number of people looking for jobs exceeds the number of openings: "Unemployment may be dropping, but this economy is still awash in resumes."

5. Donaldson & Plante Credit Reagan with Hastening End of Communism
Time heals old animosities? Thursday night's Hardball on MSNBC marked Ronald Reagan's 93rd birthday with a look at his legacy. ABC's Sam Donaldson declared: "I think he deserves credit for accelerating the fall of communism." And CBS's Bill Plante agreed: "What he did absolutely hastened the end of the Cold War."


Russert Grumbles Tax Cuts Are "Draining
Money from the Treasury"

Tim Russert Tim Russert told President Bush, in his Meet the Press interview which aired on Sunday, how conservatives are "saying you are the biggest spender in American history," and asked him how, "as a fiscal conservative as you like to call yourself, would you allow a $500 billion deficit and this kind of deficit disaster?" But even after Bush brought up Medicare prescription coverage, instead of pouncing on that never-ending entitlement program, Russert, true to his record of being much more concerned with undoing tax cuts than in cutting spending, saved his scoldings for the tax cuts.

Russert lectured Bush: "Every President since the Civil War who has gone to war has raised taxes, not cut them....Why not say, I will not cut taxes any more until we have balanced the budget?" Russert assumed all money belongs to the government, not people who earn it, as he bemoaned: "Why do you keep cutting taxes and draining money from the treasury?" After Bush contended that tax cuts stimulate the economy and create jobs, Russert recommended: "How about no more tax cuts until the budget is balanced?"

An excerpt from the portion of the interview, taped in the Oval office on Saturday, which dealt with the budget:

Russert: "The General Accounting Office, which are the nation's auditors have done a study of our finances. And this is what your legacy will be to the next generation. It says that our 'current fiscal policy is unsustainable.' They did a computer simulation that shows that balancing the budget in 2040 could require either cutting total federal spending in half or doubling federal taxes. How, why, as a fiscal conservative as you like to call yourself, would you allow a $500 billion deficit and this kind of deficit disaster?"
Bush: "Sure. The budget I just proposed to the Congress cuts the deficit in half in five years. Now, I don't know what the assumptions are in the GAO report, but I do know that if Congress is wise with the people's money, we can cut the deficit in half. And at that point in time, as a percentage of GDP, the deficit will be relatively low.
"I agree with the assessment that we've got some long term financial issues we must look at, and that's one reason I asked Congress to deal with Medicare. I strongly felt that if we didn't have an element of competition, that if we weren't modern with the Medicare program, if we didn't incorporate what's called 'health savings accounts' to encourage Americans to take more control over their healthcare decisions, we would have even a worse financial picture in the long run. I believe Medicare is going to not only make the system work better for seniors but is going to help the fiscal situation of our long term projection.
"We got to deal with Social Security as well. As you know, these entitlement programs need to be dealt with. We are dealing with some entitlement programs right now in the Congress. The highway bill. It's going to be an interesting test of fiscal discipline on both sides of the aisle. The Senate's is about $370, as I understand, $370 billion; the House is at less than that but over $300 billion. As you know, the budget I propose is about $256 billion."
Russert: "But your base conservatives and listen to Rush Limbaugh, the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, they're all saying you are the biggest spender in American history."
Bush: "Well, they're wrong. If you look at the appropriations bills that were passed under my watch, in the last year of President Clinton, discretionary spending was up 15 percent, and ours have steadily declined. And the other thing that I think it's important for people who watch the expenditures side of the equation is to understand we're at war, Tim, and any time you commit your troops into harm's way, they must have the best equipment, the best training, and the best possible pay. That's where we owe it to their loved ones."
Russert: "That's a very important point. Every President since the Civil War who has gone to war has raised taxes, not cut them. Raised to pay for it. Why not say, I will not cut taxes any more until we have balanced the budget? If our situation is so precious and delicate because of the war, why do you keep cutting taxes and draining money from the treasury?"
Bush: "Well, because I believe that the best way to stimulate economic growth is to let people keep more of their own money. And I believe that if you raise taxes as the economy is beginning to recover from really tough times, you will slow down economic growth. You will make it harder. See, I'm more worried about the fellow looking for the job. That's what I'm worried about. I want people working. I want people to find work. And so, when we stimulate the economy, it's more likely that person is going to find work. And the best way to stimulate the economy is not to raise taxes but to hold the low taxes down."
Russert: "How about no more tax cuts until the budget is balanced?"
Bush: "That's a hypothetical question which I can't answer to you because I don't know how strong the economy is going to be. I mean, the President must keep all options on the table, but I do know that raising the child, lowering the child credit thereby raising taxes on working families does not make sense when the economy is recovering, and that's exactly what some of them are calling for up on Capitol Hill. They want to raise taxes of the families with children, they want to increase the marriage penalty. They want to get rid of those taxes on small businesses that are encouraging the stimulation of new job creation, and I'm not going to have any of it."

NBC's transcript of the entire interview: www.msnbc.msn.com

Earlier CyberAlert items on Russert's obsession with tax cuts over soaring spending:

-- September 15, 2003 CyberAlert: Don't cut other spending, rescind the tax cut to pay for Iraq. On Sunday's Meet the Press, NBC's Tim Russert once again displayed his obsession with blaming tax cuts, not spending hikes, for any deficit. Picking up on a liberal proposal pushed by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, Russert proposed to Vice President Dick Cheney: "If you froze the tax cut for the top one percent of Americans, it would generate enough money to pay for the $87 billion for the war." A bit later, when Cheney blamed the economic slowdown and 9-11 for the rising deficit, Russert interjected: "And tax cuts." See: www.mediaresearch.org

-- July 21, 2003: On Sunday's Meet the Press, Tim Russert scolded House Speaker Dennis Hassert for allowing the deficit to grow so large and suggested that in retrospect it would have been better for the tax cuts to have been smaller, but then he wanted to know if Hastert would support a Senate effort to "correct" the non-inclusion of low-income non-taxpayers in the expanded child credit and pressed Hastert to agree with a plan to hike spending on AmeriCorps by $100 million. Russert preposterously described the far-left Center on Budget and Policy Priorities as a group "which consists of Democrats and Republicans." See: www.mediaresearch.org

-- April 10, 2003: Victory in Iraq means Bush's plans for a tax cut should be withdrawn. Barely two hours after celebrating Iraqis toppling the Hussein statue, NBC's Tom Brokaw admired a "quite a powerful piece in the New York Times on the opinion editorial page...saying this is not the time for the tax cut" because rebuilding Iraq "is gonna cost a lot of money." Tim Russert gleefully chimed in: "And it's not a partisan issue any longer, Tom. Republican John McCain has stepped forward and said that we have to see how much this war costs before we determine the size of a tax cut." See: www.mediaresearch.org

-- From the December 16, 2002 CyberAlert, an excerpt of a compilation of instances of Russert's anti-tax cut advocacy:

If it's Sunday, as any regular CyberAlert reader knows, it's time for Tim Russert to overlook spiraling spending and push his guests to advocate rescinding or suspending the rollout of the Bush tax cuts. This Sunday [December 15, 2002], Russert read aloud from a Concord Coalition ad which recommended rescinding the tax cuts and not enacting a prescription drug program, but in pressing his guests, Democratic Senator Carl Levin and Republican Senator Rock Santorum, Russert worried more about the tax cuts.

Skipping the admonition about a costly new entitlement program, Russert asked Santorum: "Should we freeze or postpone prospective tax cuts and avoid any new tax cuts until we are sure we have the money to pay for the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq?"...

Russert soon turned to Levin and included a prescription drugs program in his list, but put a higher priority on the danger of the tax cuts: "Senator Levin, can we afford to keep the Bush tax cuts in place, have more tax cuts, pay for the war on terrorism, pay for the expected war in Iraq and have a new prescription drug program, and still have no deficits?" Levin: "No. That doesn't add up. Friedman pointed out it doesn't add up. He was right then, and I hope he stays to his position." Russert: "So what do we you do? You raise taxes in the middle of a recession?"

Other than raising with John Kerry on December 1 [2002] President Kennedy's rationale for a tax cut, over the past several months Russert has been pounding away at guests over postponing or repealing the Bush tax cuts. Examples from past CyberAlerts:

-- To South Carolina Democrat Alex Sanders: "Would you consider freezing or postponing the Bush tax cut in order to have the revenues so we don't tap into Social Security and have the revenues to pay for the potential war in Iraq?" Russert treated Republican Lindsey Graham as an oracle of wisdom, reminding him how he had warned Bush's tax cut would "eat up all the surpluses" and was "not fiscally responsible." Russert praised his foresight: "You were prescient, prophetic about the Bush tax cut." See: www.mediaresearch.org

-- Russert's October 6 target: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Russert hoped: "Would you be in favor of postponing the Bush tax cut, the implementation, in order to have money to pay for the war and also reduce the deficit?" For details: www.mediaresearch.org

-- During a Colorado Senate debate segment, to Democratic candidate Ted Strickland: "Would you be supportive of freezing or postponing the Bush tax cut in order to raise revenues to help fight the war in Iraq?" To Republican incumbent Wayne Allard: "How are you going to pay for the war in Iraq without, would you suggest, holding off on the tax cut?" Details: www.mediaresearch.org

-- In a span of just over five minutes, eight times on the Labor Day weekend edition of Meet the Press Russert urged that the Bush tax cuts be rescinded: "Would it be better to freeze, postpone, the Bush tax cut?....Why not freeze the tax cut rather than spend the Social Security surplus?....How did they squander it? With the tax cut?....As part of a budget summit, would you be in favor of freezing the Bush tax cut?....You did come to office with a $5.6 trillion surplus, and it's gone, and a third of that can be directly attributed to the tax cut." For details: www.mediaresearch.org

-- The MRC's Rich Noyes documented Russert's tilt over the first seven months of 2002. See his July 30 Media Reality Check: "A Bias Blind Spot for Meet the Press Host; One-Sided Questioning: Russert Pushed Both Friends and Foes of Bush Tax Cut to Suspend Its Benefits." To read it: www.mediaresearch.org

END Excerpt of Previous CyberAlert

Reuters: "Kerry Presidency Seen a Boon
for U.S. Markets"

"Kerry Presidency Seen a Boon for U.S. Markets," declared the headline over a story distributed by Reuters on Friday which contended that "experts say" a Kerry victory "would be good for Wall Street, which likes the way he talks up balancing the budget." The British news agency was so proud of the story that it featured it on its home page in "The Reuters Edge" slot, plugged as "recommended reading" for the day.

New York City-based Reuters reporter Chris Sanders also cited how investors like gridlock in Washington, which would result from a Democratic presidency and Republican-controlled Congress, but he led with an economist who touted how "Kerry (policy) will probably be similar to a Clinton economic policy, which would be more focused on balancing the budget." No mention of how the Republican Congress elected in 1994 contributed to controlling spending nor of how Kerry as a spending cutter is ludicrous given his consistent "F" grades from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

For more on NTU's evaluation of Kerry's spending proposals made in this campaign and his big spending record in the Senate, see the February 2 CyberAlert which also recounted how ABC's Linda Douglass asserted that Kerry "has a long record of fighting for balanced budgets." See: www.mediaresearch.org

The MRC's Rich Noyes caught the February 6 Reuters story, "Kerry Presidency Seen as Boon for U.S. Markets," by Chris Sanders. An excerpt:

If John Kerry wins the Democratic nomination and goes on to be the next U.S. president, experts say it would be good for Wall Street, which likes the way he talks up balancing the budget....

"Kerry (policy) will probably be similar to a Clinton economic policy, which would be more focused on balancing the budget," said Gus Faucher, a senior economist with Economy.com, where he tracks elections.

"That would bring down interest rates and drive up bond prices," he added. Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.

Stocks are a different story. Analysts said a successfully balanced budget will eventually help stocks once the deficit becomes more manageable....

If Kerry keeps his winning pace and can beat Bush in November, he would still face the prospect of governing as a Democrat with a Republican-controlled Congress.

In that atmosphere, gridlock often holds sway -- a condition generally loathed by politicians, but cheered by investors.

"There is a large body on Wall Street that believes in gridlock. Gridlock means (the government) does less harm," said Greg Valliere, the chief political strategist with Schwab Washington Research Group.

Aside from the possible logjam, the deficit is the chief concern among political economists. This year's U.S. budget deficit is forecast at $521 billion, close to but still lower as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product than the worst budget shortfalls under President Ronald Reagan.

Kerry has vowed, if elected, to "cut the budget deficit in half in four years," according to his campaign Web site.

"Kerry would probably show more restraint on spending than Bush has so far," Faucher said.

Beyond Kerry, the arrival of new presidents has proven better for equity markets, according to a study done by Banc One Investment Advisors chief economist Anthony Chan....

Although potentially helpful to markets and U.S. growth if he wins overall, Kerry will see few votes from Wall Streeters. Market participants will likely be voting Republican because the party is thought to be more business friendly, experts said....

END of Excerpt

For the story in full: www.reuters.com

Plante Frets McCain Willing to Give Bush
"a Pass" on Intel Use

John McCain is usually the media's hero, but he apparently disappointed CBS's Bill Plante when he said he doesn't believe President Bush manipulated intelligence data regarding Iraq. In a Friday story on Bush naming a commission to evaluate intelligence gathering, Plante noted that McCain "is seen as an independent," but fretted that "today even he seemed ready to give the President a pass."

Over on the NBC Nightly News, Lisa Myers applied an ideological tag to only one member of the commission: "Federal judge Laurence Silberman, a conservative Republicans and close friend of Vice President Cheney." She felt no need to label "former Democratic Senator Chuck Robb, son-in-law of President Johnson" or "86-year-old uber-lawyer Lloyd Cutler, White House counsel under Clinton and Carter."

On the February 6 CBS Evening News, Plante reported: "Democrats, who charge the administration manipulated intelligence to make the case for war, have doubted whether anyone appointed by the President can be objective. The highest profile member is John McCain. The Arizona Senator once a challenger, but now campaigning for the President, is seen as an independent. But today even he seemed ready to give the President a pass."
McCain: "The President of the United States, I believe, would not manipulate any kind of information for political gain or otherwise."

On the same evening's NBC Nightly News, Myers ran through the commission's members, but only found one worthy of an ideological label: "The commission co-chairs: Federal judge Laurence Silberman, a conservative Republicans and close friend of Vice President Cheney. And former Democratic Senator Chuck Robb, son-in-law of President Johnson. Also on the commission, 86-year-old uber-lawyer Lloyd Cutler, White House counsel under Clinton and Carter, and maverick Republican, Senator John McCain. Though often at odds with the President, McCain says he does not believe Mr. Bush would manipulate intelligence to make the case for war."
McCain: "There is no massive conspiracy that I've seen, if you, and I believe that's why we're going to look at all the facts."

Myers concluded: "Tonight the commission gets mixed reviews. Some intelligence experts question whether the panel has enough expertise. Others question whether a former Senator not known for rocking the boat, and a friend of the Vice President's, are likely to conduct a sweeping investigation regardless of the political consequences."

CBS Emphasizes the Negative in Declining
Unemployment Numbers

Emphasizing the negative. Dan Rather opened Friday's CBS Evening News by kvetching: "Not a va-room, but a putt, putt, putt. Tonight, America's economic engine creates some new jobs, but not nearly enough to replace the thousands lost."

Rather set up two stories on the subject: "It is growing, but the U.S. economy isn't producing enough jobs. At least not yet. The government's official figures out today say unemployment in January was running 5.6 percent. While that is down a bit, the decline is largely the result of workers' giving up on finding a job and no longer officially listed as unemployed. The economy created some new jobs in January -- about 112,000. But economists say that is below predictions and expectations and not nearly enough to meet demand."

On the upbeat side, Anthony Mason looked at a Massachusetts-based Internet services company that is doing well and plans to hire, yet Mason ended on a downer as he pointed out that the number of people looking for jobs exceeds the number of openings: "Unemployment may be dropping, but this economy is still awash in resumes."

Then Cynthia Bowers provided an all negative story pegged to the closing of a refrigerator plant in Greenville, Michigan.

Donaldson & Plante Credit Reagan with
Hastening End of Communism

Time heals old animosities? Thursday night's Hardball on MSNBC marked Ronald Reagan's 93rd birthday with a look at his legacy. ABC's Sam Donaldson declared: "I think he deserves credit for accelerating the fall of communism." And CBS's Bill Plante agreed: "What he did absolutely hastened the end of the Cold War."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth and Geoffrey Dickens both caught the admissions by the two network correspondents who covered the Reagan White House.

The exchange, on the February 5 show, with host Chris Matthews:

Matthews: "Is it your belief, Sam, as a straight reporter, an observer, do you think Ronald Reagan deserves credit for ending or winning the Cold War as a goal, as an accomplishment that he foresaw and achieved?"
Donaldson: "I think he deserves credit for accelerating the fall of communism. I always agreed with his idea that communism would eventually be on the ash heap of history. However, by accelerating the arms race, he put the Soviet Union in an impossible position. They couldn't keep up economically. They couldn't do it. Why did Gorbachev want to reduce weapons so much at Reykjavik? Because he knew he couldn't keep up. So I think he gets credit, the President does, for accelerating the fall of communism, yes."
Matthews: "Bill, is that your assessment?"
Plante: "Absolutely. He may not have understood that the Soviets were as far behind as they actually were because our own intelligence services didn't."
Matthews: "Another problem with CIA, right?"
Plante: "Nonetheless, what he did absolutely hastened the end of the Cold War."

Nice to hear some of the media establishment coming around.

-- Brent Baker