ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, on Sunday’s This Week, hit House Speaker John Boehner repeatedly from the left to raise taxes, a hostile, political agenda-driven approach she failed to apply a month earlier to the House’s top Democrat, Nancy Pelosi.
Amanpour demanded of Boehner: “Do you not feel that by opposing” a tax hike on millionaires to pay for Obama’s jobs bill “you’re basically out of step with the American people on this issue?” She followed by yearning: “Do you agree at all that there should be any kind of tax increases?” (video compilation below)
She soon lectured him – “you talk about fairness” – but since “one in 15 Americans live in extreme poverty which is defined as something like $11,000 per year for a family of four [actually, it’s $22,000], are you concerned that these budget cuts are going to hurt the people who can least afford it?”
When Boehner cited “a rising tide lifting all boats,” Amanpour countered with how income mobility “is kind of slowing down” and, as if she and her journalistic colleagues have nothing to do with it, she contended that “clearly the Republicans are being portrayed as the party that doesn’t really care and are really quote, unquote, ‘the servants of the rich.’”
She inadvertently set Boehner up to undermine her defense of President Obama’s anti-wealth rhetoric:
It’s not so much redistribution of income that the President is talking about, much more a shared and much fairer sense of sacrifice. And there doesn’t seem to be the sense amongst people here that the sacrifice is being shared because they point to taxes and tax cuts and who it benefits and who it doesn’t.
Boehner retorted: “Come on, the top one percent pay 38 percent of the income taxes in America. How much more do you want them to pay?”
Audio: MP3 clip which matches the video
Back on October 9, instead of being consistent and thus press Pelosi from the right on cutting spending or the downsides to raising taxes, Amanpour instead cued her up with the concerns of liberals, starting with if President Obama is being liberal enough to satisfy Pelosi:
It’s no secret that you were quite disappointed in some of the President's previous public advocacy. Do you now think that there is a pivot that’s significant, that there is a new combative President who’s going out and really doing what you had hoped to uphold the Democratic flag?
Amanpour also cued up the former Speaker to back the “American people” in the occupy protests:
People, American people, are now occupying Wall Street, they are spreading their protests to various other cities in the United States. They’re expressing frustration, they’re expressing fear over joblessness. Do you support them?
For more on Amanpour with Pelosi, check my October 9 NB post: “Amanpour Touts Wall Street Protests as ‘Revolution,’ Pleased Politicians ‘Finally’ Recognize It”
Amanpour’s questions in the pre-recorded interview conducted in the U.S. Capitol (those in bold are in the accompanying video above) and run on the November 6 This Week:
> I asked the Speaker how compromise has become such a dirty word on Capitol Hill?
> Let's talk about jobs, obviously. You talked about trying to find common ground. But at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be much. Even infrastructure can’t get through Congress. Where can you see common ground?
> Now, you obviously disagree with the idea of paying for this with extra taxes. Some 75 percent of Americans agree with an increase in tax on millionaires as a way to pay for these jobs provisions. Do you not feel that by opposing it you’re basically out of step with the American people on this issue?
> You said that there's more room for revenues? What do you mean by that?
> Do you agree at all that there should be any kind of tax increases?
> A year into the new Congress, what is your biggest regret then?
> With so much hope put into their efforts, and yet they do seem to be stuck at an impasse. We know they’re trying to come up with $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts. Do you think it will work?
> Because as we all know, if it doesn’t, there are automatic, rather draconian, cuts. Would you be able to live with those, including half of those cuts might come from the Defense Department?
> You talked about the $800 billion or so that you were trying to make an agreement with President Obama in terms of revenues. It didn't work. You said that that’s one of your biggest regrets. Could that happen again, could you get back to that point?
[BOEHNER: Well, I think it’s hard to put humpty-dumpty back together again.]
> How much revenue, when we were talking about room for revenue, how much revenue do you think you could get?
> You talk about fairness, and of course, obviously, a lot of the conversation in this country over the last year or so has been about spending cuts, getting the deficit under control, but it’s sort of shifting, as you know now, to the whole big disparity in income, the income gap, the income inequality that people are talking about. Latest reports say that something like one in 15 Americans live in extreme poverty which is defined as something like $11,000 per year for a family of four. Are you concerned that these budget cuts are going to hurt the people who can least afford it?
> You talk about a rising tide lifting all boats and, of course, that is the American way. That’s what all of us look to America for. And yet, not just income inequality has expanded, but also the idea of social mobility is kind of slowing down. It’s even slower than in some other parts of the world. And clearly the Republicans are being portrayed as the party that doesn’t really care and are really quote, unquote, “the servants of the rich.” Does that need to change?
> You look at Occupy Wall Street, I think you’ve said that you understand their frustrations. People such as, let’s say, Eric Cantor, called them “a mob” not so long ago. Do you agree with that? Are they a mob?
> You say “class warfare.” I asked Bill Gates last week about this whole notion. And he said, “look, class warfare is when you’ve got people in the streets manning the barricades, you know, fighting each other.” That’s not what’s happening. It’s not so much redistribution of income that the President is talking about, much more a shared and much fairer sense of sacrifice. And there doesn’t seem to be the sense amongst people here that the sacrifice is being shared because they point to taxes and tax cuts and who it benefits and who it doesn’t.
[BOEHNER: Come on, the top one percent pay 38 percent of the income taxes in America. How much more do you want them to pay? I tell you what, let's take all of the money that the rich have, all of it, it won’t even put a dent in our current budget deficit much less our debt.]
> Congress, obviously, is not very popular with the people. So no matter what you say about the President, Congress's approval ratings are way lower. How do you live with that? Nine percent approval?
> Can I quickly turn to 2012, which is in everybody's mind. Is Mitt Romney the man who would put up the stiffest competition to President Obama's re-election?
> And Herman Cain who has zoomed to the top with his 9-9-9 and now is having some trouble with some allegations against him. Do you think he's handling this well? How would you advise him?
> If your focus is right here, how would you describe today, your relationship with President Obama, because essentially that's what's going to make stuff happen?