NBC's Today and CBS's Early Show on Thursday turned to Obama advisor David Plouffe on Thursday to offer his spin on the President's 67-minute presser on Wednesday, instead of interviewing Republicans. Both shows failed to press their guest about Obama's part in raising the nation's debt. NBC's Matt Lauer did toss some hardball questions at Plouffe on the President's "ownership" of the economy.
During her interview of the White House political advisor, which aired eight minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour, Jarvis raised how, in the midst of his anti-Republican press conference, the President compared his congressional opponents negatively to his own kids in her second question. Plouffe replied by foisting all of the blame for the debt on the GOP in his answer:
JARVIS: ...Yesterday, when the President compared Congress to schoolchildren, was that an attempt on his part to shame Congress into making the right move here?
PLOUFFE: ...We cannot- the United States of America has to live up to its obligations and pay our bills. And let's remember what this is about: these are bills that Congress has put on the American credit card over the years. This isn't future spending. So, we have to pay for these bills. Congress obligated the country to them. But, at the same time, we need to reduce the deficit, so we're putting less on the credit card, and the President's confident we can do both of those things.
Instead of bringing up how the trillions in spending over the past two-plus years couldn't go into effect without President Obama's signature, the CBS anchor stated how "the American people are very diametrically opposed on this, as is, you know, the President with Congress, where you have the President drawing a line in the sand on taxes, and you have Congress drawing a line in the sand on taxes." She then offered her last question to Plouffe: "In this standoff, if there cannot be consensus, what does the President do?"
By contrast, Lauer immediately played the role of skeptic in his first question to the 2008 campaign manager to Obama: "That deadline [August 2] has been called artificial by John Boehner. Even the Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, has changed the date where he thinks we'll reach the debt ceiling on at least one occasion. So is August 2 a real date or is it a ploy to force action?"
When Plouffe insisted that it was a "real date" and claimed, just as he did in the interview which he had just concluded with Jarvis, that "Congress has racked up over the years that they've put on the credit card," the NBC anchor rephrased his initial question and pushed ahead: "I understand that. But if the President and Congress get close to a deal, something that the President feels he might be able to sign on to, but all the 'I's aren't dotted and the 'T's aren't crossed by August 2, will the deadline not be extended?"
Though Lauer, like his CBS counterpart, didn't raise the President's share in the debt problem, he did carry his skepticism throughout the interview. The journalist later asked Plouffe about Obama's attack on "corporate jet owners" and the usual left-leaning rhetoric from the Democrat:
LAUER: Let us talk about some of the wording that the President chose yesterday, David. He talked about wanting to raise taxes, not on the middle class but on millionaires and billionaires. And on six separate occasions he said, 'And on corporate jet owners.' Now you know very well that the tax cuts for people who own corporate jets don't amount to all that much. They're somewhat of a drop in the bucket. So is he simply trying to paint Republicans as the party of the rich? Are the- is he trying to draw the lines of class warfare here?
In addition to this, the NBC anchor also could have raised how the President's own stimulus package renewed the corporate jet tax loophole from 2002.
Lauer concluded the segment by pressing his guest about how Obama and the Democratic Party in general has tried to pass off blame on the state of the economy to the Bush administration, when the President has now had almost two and a half years to improve the situation:
LAUER: And when we talk about the overall economy, I mean, Democrats have spent a lot of time in the last two years reminding Americans that the President inherited an economy in disastrous shape. But do you agree with the new head of the DNC, who says after two and a half years, this president owns this economy. And if you agree, why should Americans feel good about that ownership?
PLOUFFE: Well listen, we didn't – these economic problems didn't happen overnight. Particularly as it relates to the middle class, this has been happening for a very long time. They're not going to be solved overnight. And the recession that we just went through, which was the worst our country experienced, except for the Great Depression, and we got close to that. There wasn't a run of bad luck, there were policies that contributed to that. And what the President is trying to do is focus on things like education, on innovation, on fiscal discipline, so that we never have an experience like that again. So the person who's least satisfied with where the economy is today is President Obama. That's what he-
LAUER: And he owns it? You would agree with that? He owns this economy?
PLOUFFE: Of course he does. But the American people understand that we – it took us a long time to get to this mess, it's going to take us some time to come out. We're making progress. We're not making progress quickly enough. That's why, as the President said yesterday, there's some things we can do right now to help the economy. We can pass trade deals that will increase our exports, we can pass patent reform that'll allow our innovators to bring their ideas to market more quickly.
PLOUFFE: So there's some things that Congress ought to do right now in addition to reducing the deficit.
CBS did air three clips from congressional Republicans later in The Early Show during a report from correspondent Nancy Cordes, but none of them directly addressed the substantive issues of the economy or the debt. Cordes also took time refute Senator Orrin Hatch's attack on President Obama's golf outings: "According to a CBS News tally, President Obama has taken 61 full or partial days of vacation since taking office in 2009, compared to 171 days for President George W. Bush over the same time period, and 102 days for President Ronald Reagan."
Earlier, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante also played a clip from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:
PLANTE: Republicans, unmoved, continue to insist that raising taxes is not the way to avert the looming debt crisis.
SENATE MITCH MCCONNELL, (R), MINORITY LEADER (from speech on the Senate floor): Republicans refuse to let the taxpayers take the hit when it comes to reducing the debt. And that's why all 47 Republicans in the Senate support a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.