Sunday talk shows: Deals can be made
There was a lot of discussion on the Sunday talk shows about the debt commision and extension of the Bush tax cuts. If you wanted proof of an emerging consensus, there was plenty of it.
On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) explained why he supports the debt commission's plan:
WALLACE: And how much of this do you think could get through?
CONRAD: I think a large part of it could get through. Look, I would prefer to even go further in deficit reduction than this package. I think we need more than is provided for in this package. But there's certainly a strong beginning. This cuts spending $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. It has dramatic interest savings. It puts Social Security on a solvent course for the next 75 years. And perhaps most important, it fundamentally reforms the tax system in this country that is so broken by eliminating or dramatically reducing a lot of the exclusions and deductions so that we can lower rates to help America be more competitive.
Meanwhile, Liz Cheney was pleased with the degree to which the Democrats are moving her way:
WALLACE: Well, I was going to say, Liz, I mean, if the president is accepting -- and it sure seems like he's going to -- an extension of all the so-called Bush tax cuts for two or three years, isn't that a significant pivot? I mean, it's also a recognition of reality of the midterm elections.
LIZ CHENEY, FMR. STATE DEPT. OFFICIAL: I think it is a significant pivot, actually. And I think that as we go forward here, the debt commission recommendations I would applaud. I mean, clearly, I don't agree with all of them, I don't know that anybody agrees with all of them. But I think they have in fact added to this discussion. And I think Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, both of them, reminding people of the urgency of this is critical. I think that one of the problems of the debt commission though, frankly, is that they expect that the Obama health care plan will actually continue. And that's one of the biggest places I think Republicans seek potential cost savings, is if we're able in fact to repeal that. Some estimates say we could save as much as $2 trillion over 20 years through that repeal.
I asked the American Enterprise Institute's Arthur Brooks yesterday if he was surprised that Democrats such as Conrad and Sen. Dick Durbin were sounding more and more like Republicans. He replied via e-mail that "my hope is that leaders on both sides will continue to agree that the best policies are those that set Americans free -- rather than getting in their way -- to create growth and jobs through private enterprise."
Elsewhere on the Sunday shows, there were more takers on plans to lower tax rates and take up serious budget and entitlement reform -- and more exasperation from liberals now left out of the discussion.On Meet the Press, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell observed: "I'm very hopeful that, that rates are not going to go up. And what we saw yesterday in the Senate, every single Republican and five Democrats voted that we shouldn't be raising taxes on anybody. In other words, it's bipartisan opposition to raising taxes on anybody at this time." After host David Gregory pressed him on the wisdom of the deal, McConnell responded: "Look, this argument's over, David. You and I can continue to engage in it, but it's over. The Senate voted yesterday, and every Republican and five Democrats said we're not raising taxes on anybody in the middle of a recession."
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) prattled on and on, arguing that everyone should know this was all President Bush's fault. But he, too, apparently saw the handwriting on the wall. (Asked if Obama wasn't going to make a deal to extend tax cuts for the rich, Kerry replied tersely, "Well, obviously.")
The roundtable discussion also reflected the growing sense that there are deals to be made:
GREGORY: He's probably willing to deal on tax cuts because he, he realizes the Republicans have the leverage on that right now.
GOP STRATEGIST MIKE MURPHY: Right.
GREGORY: Liberals are going to be very, very unhappy. They are unhappy about that, they feel like they're caving. Then you've got this disaffected middle that doesn't necessarily agree with Tom that says, "Well, government's got to play a big role in investing in some of this new economy."
MURPHY: Well, he's caught because his base has actually become more liberal in the Congress because of many of the losses. He ought to cut them loose. They're the losing team. They just lost an historic election. The ideology is discredited. His biggest problem was he campaigned in the center, and he governed from the left. What he does--what his problem now is he looks weak and he looks secondary to the congressional battle. He ought to get out in front, he ought to pivot, he ought to have--I think you could create, and Tom kind of implies this, kind of a national interest, economic agenda to link the two because we are in a tremendous economic competition now. But it does mean a rightward move on things. And he ought to, frankly, call the Republicans to task on entitlement cutting. We campaign on it."
David Brooks added that he found private conversations among lawmakers "more inspiring" and saw McConnell's comments as quite newsworthy. (Readers of Right Turn, heard it here first.)
And even liberal Tom Friedman opined that a serious deficit cutting plan will be supported by voters. ("I think they will be for it if they think the president has a plan to make America great again.")
In short, now that Nancy Pelosi is out of the way (or rendered powerless), the center-right can make some deals. In a center-right country with a chastized and deflated liberal president, that's not all that surprising.
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