MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell scolded Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty today over the former Minnesota governor's proposed plan to reduce taxes and cut spending, decrying the conservative measures as "counterintuitive."
"What makes you think that a plan to actually increase the deficit by cutting taxes is the right way to go right now?" groused NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent on "Andrea Mitchell Reports."
Without missing a beat, Pawlenty senior adviser Phil Musser retorted: "It really depends if you believe that growth is the solution for our future. So what the governor has laid out is an optimistic, pro-growth message that's balanced with real, meaningful spending cuts."
Mitchell is mistaken in believing that cutting taxes necessarily increases the deficit. According to data from the Tax Policy Center, federal tax receipts generally increased while President George W. Bush was in office, despite two rounds of tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.
After failing to pin down Musser on the tax issue, Mitchell rephrased her liberal spin: "When you're talking about cutting the corporate taxes, this is a very tough message...I mean, it's basically supply-side economics."
Dismissing supply-side economics as politically untenable, Mitchell failed to recognize that President Ronald Reagan's supply-side tax cuts rescued the U.S. economy from Carter-era malaise while slashing taxes on individuals, businesses, and estates. In fact, Reagan's Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 fueled seven years of successive increases in tax revenue.
This isn't the first time Mitchell, the wife of former Reagan Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, has openly advocated for higher taxes. On the May 22 "Meet the Press," Mitchell lamented that Republicans lack the "courage" to raise taxes.
A transcript of the relevant portions of the segment can be found below:
Andrea Mitchell Reports
June 9, 2011
1:19 p.m. EDT
ANDREA MITCHELL: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann may be the next candidate to officially jump into the presidential race. In any case, she's going to be in the Monday night debate. The Minnesota Republican could be a big draw in her home state of Iowa, where the nation's first caucus is a critical test for, of course, Tim Pawlenty. Phil Musser is a senior adviser to Tim Pawlenty's presidential campaign, he's here with us now. Well, Michele Bachmann. Where do you begin? In Iowa, she is formidable, seven generations of her family go back to Iowa. Is there a path to the nomination for Tim Pawlenty that doesn't go through Iowa?
PHIL MUSSER, Tim Pawlenty senior adviser: Absolutely there's a path to the nomination. I think everyone that's serious about running in this contest should commit to running in Iowa. Tim Pawlenty has committed to running in Iowa. We've been running an aggressive campaign there.
MITCHELL: Talking about Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, most notably, saying he will be sort of be skipping Iowa.
MUSSER: I think, you know, you pass Iowa at your own peril. The long and the short of it is that Tim Pawlenty is the kind of candidate that can appeal in Iowa. He can appeal in New Hampshire. He can do well in South Carolina. We're proud that Congressman Joe Wilson endorsed our candidacy in South Carolina today. You know, we've seen a lot of traction for the governor's message since we announced a couple weeks ago. We started out by leveling with people and telling them the truth. We rolled out a big growth plan earlier this week. So the message has been resonating and people are getting excited about the campaign in all the early states.
MITCHELL: Let's go through some of the elements. What makes you think that a plan to actually increase the deficit by cutting taxes is the right way to go right now? It's counterintuitive.
MUSSER: It really depends if you believe that growth is the solution for our future. So what the governor has laid out is an optimistic, pro-growth message that's balanced with real, meaningful spending cuts. And anyone who knows Tim Pawlenty and looks at his record on spending over eight years as governor, where in the 40 years before he was governor, spending in Minnesota grew at about 21 percent. Over the eight years of his governorship, spending grew at about 1.8 percent. This is a guy who knows how to cut budgets and if you look at even a reduction of 1 percent a year, over net outlays over the next 10 years in the federal budget, you see about a $7.5 trillion savings. Look at the Republican Study group plan, that's about $9 trillion in savings. So what you have here is an optimistic, aspirational, growth-oriented message that's coupled with real spending cuts to achieve balance.
MITCHELL: When you're talking about cutting the corporate taxes, this is a very tough message. Especially just any kind of calculus indicates that most people believe that either you're going to raise taxes, or at least hold them steady. But cutting taxes at this point in a recession, or well, coming out of a recession with a weak recovery, and with the huge deficit that we have. I mean, it's basically supply-side economics.
MUSSER: Well I think, Andrea, what most people want is a job. And what we've got now is not working. Kind of half-measures of government stimulus into our economy haven't improved us. And we're getting into the are you better off today than you were four years test. We offer a very different vision in this plan.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.