During the 12PM ET hour on MSNBC on Tuesday, anchor Contessa Brewer condemned Republican plans to reign in government spending: "Republicans poised to take over the U.S. House tomorrow and they arrive with a big, fat budget ax. They're planning make good on a promise to curb spending and cut the federal deficit and their plan could mean real pain for many Americans."
Brewer claimed the effort "is so politically risky, even Republicans in the Senate haven't pledged their support." She then touted White House talking points attacking the GOP: "...the White House warns Republicans the cuts could create catastrophic consequences for the economy. Budget Director Jacob Lew says it could put the recovery in a deep freeze and kill thousands of jobs." Brewer cheered: "The President is urging GOP leaders to focus on the economy and steer clear of politics."
Later, Brewer spoke with congressional correspondent Luke Russert and wondered why Republicans would dare to vote on repealing ObamaCare: "Luke, why are they spending any time in the House on this health care vote when the Democrats are still in control of the Senate, and the President would veto any repeal?"
Turning back to the budget debate, Brewer again remarked: "I mentioned here the House members coming in with a budget cutting ax. I mean, it's more like a backhoe, really, forget the scalpel." Early in the segment, the on-screen headline quoted Brewer: "GOP's Big, Fat Budget Ax."
Here is a full transcript of the January 4 segment:
CONTESSA BREWER: Republicans poised to take over the U.S. House tomorrow and they arrive with a big, fat budget ax. They're planning make good on a promise to curb spending and cut the federal deficit and their plan could mean real pain for many Americans.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: GOP's Big, Fat Budget Ax]
Just back from his Hawaiian vacation, President Obama's got a tough road a hoe. Incoming House Speaker John Boehner's leading the charge to make good on the 'Pledge to America,' a campaign promise to cut $100 billion from federal spending to pre-Obama levels. The GOP is not getting specific about the cuts, but promises it won't be the military, national security or money for the nation's vets. But the proposal is so politically risky, even Republicans in the Senate haven't pledged their support and the White House warns Republicans the cuts could create catastrophic consequences for the economy. Budget Director Jacob Lew says it could put the recovery in a deep freeze and kill thousands of jobs. The President is urging GOP leaders to focus on the economy and steer clear of politics.
BARACK OBAMA: They are going to play to their base for a certain period of time. But my hope is that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell will realize that there will be plenty of time to campaign for 2012 in 2012.
BREWER: Republicans say they are focused on the economy and their first target is repealing the health care law, which they call a job killer. A vote is already scheduled for next week.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don't want the American people to have to pick up the tab for my health care.
BREWER: And that vote will be a first test of how Nancy Pelosi will work with the newly powerful Republicans. After tomorrow, she's no longer the speaker, but today she's fighting back.
NANCY PELOSI: We will measure every policy from both parties as it comes forth as to whether it creates jobs, whether it strengthens the middle class and whether it reduces the deficit.
BREWER: Luke Russert is on Capitol Hill now. Luke, why are they spending any time in the House on this health care vote when the Democrats are still in control of the Senate, and the President would veto any repeal?
LUKE RUSSERT: Well Contessa, it really is more about symbolism than anything. Obviously every Republican aide will tell you that there is no pathway for this health care repeal to actually become law because it could stop in the Senate and it would obviously be vetoed by President Obama. But remember Contessa, this was a campaign pledge of many Republicans in this sweeping tide that came through in this last election. It is part of their 'Pledge to America' to put forth a repeal bill in the House and it was really something they wanted to have right out of the gate because they feel that it galvanizes their base and it also allows them to say they kept their first promise.
The vote is scheduled for Wednesday. It's a two-page bill and they like to compare that to the 2,000 page bill the Democrats passed and it's actually aptly titled, Contessa, 'Repealing The Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.' So there's not a lot of stuff left up to the imagination.
BREWER: Yeah, right.
RUSSERT: There is an idea, though, that they would repeal this law and then construct a Republican bill. Two things that I find interesting that are within that bill that are Democratic ideas. One, a lot the student loan reforms that were passed the first time around. Republicans do not want to touch those. And also, Republicans want to craft legislation that would not allow for a denial for a pre-existing condition, something that they were on the other side of in March and they got really pounded by Democrats for being immoral for having that position. Contessa.
BREWER: I mentioned here the House members coming in with a budget cutting ax. I mean, it's more like a backhoe, really, forget the scalpel. And yet there are new rules the House is adopting that's going to give the incoming budget chair Paul Ryan of Wisconsin a lot more power on the way money is spent. Tell me about the new rules and how it will work?
RUSSERT: This is interesting, Contessa. Every time a new congress comes forward, they vote usually on the first day, the ruling party votes on what exactly the rules will be for how legislation gets passed and how it moves forward. Well, this is probably going to happen tomorrow, and within those rules, they'll be an approval, that the ranking chairman of the Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, will have the ability to set the budget level going into next year, and what does that mean, Contessa? Well, essentially Paul Ryan, one man, the chairman of this very powerful committee, will be able to see when estimates come back from the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan area about where budget levels should be, Mr. Ryan will say, 'Okay, I want to put them at this certain level.' Well, what does that mean? That means that there does not need to be a vote taken by the entire House of Representatives on a budget.
Why is this coming forward? Well, Republicans say the Democrats last time around, for the first time since 1974, we're not able to pass a budget, and that is cause for a large amount of debt and a large amount of uncertainty for small businesses. Democrats say this is absolutely ridiculous. One of them called and told me that it was, 'unprecedented and undemocratic because the power of one vote now goes to the power of one person.' Democrats are saying this is political, because Republican leaders do not want to force their rank and file members to take a tough vote on a budget, especially their Tea Party caucus members, who would find some problems within a large budget that would have to be played out through a committee process, Contessa.
BREWER: We wait and watch and see how this all plays out. Luke, thank you. You know, we've seen a big jump in concern about the massive deficits facing this nation. My big question today: Does America have the appetite for huge spending cuts to bring the debt under control?
- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.