A week after NPR’s Nina Totenberg, on Inside Washington, urged imposition of a “Katrina tax,” on the same show this weekend she dismissed the idea of cancelling $24 billion of transportation bill earmarks as small change and suggested that “if you canceled the tax cuts, you'd get $225 billion." She rejected the contention that would hurt the economy and forwarded the standard liberal class warfare argument that “if people who are richer in this country don't pay more, we can't take it out of the hides of poor people, which is what the conservative group that is actually in Congress that's put out earmarks of what they think we ought to cut -- Medicaid, Medicare.”
Evan Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, soon chimed in to point out how “there's no law in the Bible that says a Republican can never raise taxes." He recalled how “Ronald Reagan raised taxes, you know, he cut taxes, but then he raised taxes. George Bush, the father, raised taxes.”
Complete transcript of the remarks by Totenberg and Thomas follow. UPDATE: On another weekend TV talk show, the McLaughlin Group, Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift also looked to undoing tax reductions to pay for Katrina.
[Clift opined: “The obvious solution is to roll back the tax cuts. It’s going to cost $500 billion over ten years to relieve people, couples, with estates of over $5 million. Do they really need that money? I don’t think so.”]
I caught the comments on the Friday night airing of Inside Washington on WETA-TV channel 26, Washington, DC’s PBS affiliate. The program is taped at ABC’s Washington, DC affiliate, WJLA-TV, channel 7 (actually in Arlington, Virginia), where it airs Sunday morning at 10am after This Week. It also runs Saturday nights at 7pm on NewsChannel 8, the local all-news cable channel owned by the ABC affiliate.
Full recitation of the exchange quoted above, as taken down by the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth:
Charles Krauthammer: "Our crisis of today is Katrina, probably a couple of hundred billion, and I think you start by canceling every earmark, all 6,371 earmarks, special pork spending, in the newly-passed transportation bill. It's only $24 billion, lunch money, but it's a rather ample lunch."
Nina Totenberg: "It's lunch money, but, it's lunch money, but if you canceled the tax cuts, you'd get $225 billion."
Krauthammer: "You'd wreck the economy. That's the difference."
Totenberg: "You wouldn't. You wouldn't. I mean, this economy was, is doing just fine, thank you, but it is about to sustain incredible blows because of the energy business, and if we don't, if people who are richer in this country don't pay more, we can't take it out of the hides of poor people, which is what the conservative group that is actually in Congress that's put out earmarks of what they think we ought to cut -- Medicaid, Medicare. That's money we, you know, for the poorest segment of our society."
Host Gordon Peterson: "Even Republicans are getting edgy about this, aren't they?"
Evan Thomas: "Yeah, sort of good. I mean, there's a split in the Republican Party. Republicans used to be, once upon a time, for fiscal conservatism, and there are a few of those left, and they're starting to murmur more, and, you know, people forget Ronald Reagan raised taxes, you know, he cut taxes, but then he raised taxes. George Bush, the father, raised taxes. It's not, there's no law in the Bible that says a Republican can never raise taxes."