World News anchors and reporters on Sunday chided Barack Obama from the left, complaining that he was "caving" and "breaking one of his biggest campaign promises" by preventing tax rates from increasing in January. ABC's Washington editor Rick Klein worried, "President Obama has been clear this was a critical position and he is caving on it, in, in allowing all the tax cuts to be extended."
Reporter David Kerley fretted, "The President is preparing to break one of his biggest campaign promises. He is poised to extend tax cuts to the richest Americans in exchange for helping millions who are jobless."
He went on to highlight Democratic angst over this apparent outrage, reminding, "For Democrats, making this deal, giving in on taxes to get unemployment benefits extended, is a tough pill to swallow."
Indeed, both segments devoted to this topic focused on whether this was an alarming sign that the President would abandon other liberal ideals. Klein alerted, "So, the, the view of many in the left is that if the President has to move this far right now, he's gonna have to go that much farther once, once Republicans take control of the House next month."
Although Kerley did explain the impact of allowing a tax increase, he also derided the "cost" of such an action: "It is a costly deal at a time of worry about the deficit. None of the cuts is paid for. In fact, keeping taxes at this level over the next 10 years could add nearly $4 trillion to the national debt."
At no time did any of the ABC journalists frame the issue as one of Republicans, who won a major midterm victory, standing firm on campaign promises.
The World News reporters were echoing the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is running ads encouraging Obama to "keep your promise" on letting the tax cuts expire.
For more on this segment, see a blog by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth.
A transcript of the December 5 segment, which aired at 6pm EST on December 5, follows:
DAVID MUIR: Good evening. As we go on the air this Sunday night, word the White House and top Republicans are nearing a deal. No new taxes. It appears those Bush-era tax cuts will be extended, even for the wealthiest Americans. Republicans have argued you can't raise taxes on anyone while recovering from this recession, that it would hurt small business owners and jobs. Democrats have asked, how do you keep the tax cuts going for the rich with a spiraling deficit and so many Americans still unemployed ad so many Americans unemployed. And so, David Kerley is at the White House tonight, where details of this coming deal are emerging as we speak. David, good evening.
DAVID KERLEY: Good evening, David. The President is preparing to break one of his biggest campaign promises. He is poised to extend tax cuts to the richest Americans in exchange for helping millions who are jobless. Tonight, it appears Republicans will get all the tax cuts extended.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (Meet the Press): I think it's pretty clear now taxes are not going up on anybody in the middle of this recession. We're discussing how long we should maintain current tax rates.
KERLEY: For Democrats, making this deal, giving in on taxes to get unemployment benefits extended, is a tough pill to swallow.
SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN [Face the Nation]: We're moving in that direction. And we're only moving there against my judgment and my own particular view of things.
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE IN THE SENATE: Mr. Ensign, no.
KERLEY: Democrats tried to extend the tax cuts only to the middle class.
SENATOR BYRON DORGAN: They're demanding that the wealthiest Americans get a tax cut that is 1,000 times the size of the average American.
KERLEY: But the effort-
UNIDENTIED VOICE: Mr. Cochran, no.
KERLEY: -failed twice in the Senate. So the President promised compromise.
BARACK OBAMA: We need to redouble our efforts to resolve this impasse in the next few days.
KERLEY: Here's what's at stake without action. Someone making $62,000 a year could see their taxes go up $2200 starting next month. But extending all the cuts means that someone making $10 million a year will keep $450,000 of their income that would have gone to Uncle Sam. It is a costly deal at a time of worry about the deficit. None of the cuts is paid for. In fact, keeping taxes at this level over the next 10 years could add nearly $4 trillion to the national debt. Sources tell me that a deal could be set in the next couple of days, and the White House would like to move this along - fairly quickly because Republicans continue to say they will do nothing else in the lame-duck session until this tax issue is finished. David?
DAVID MUIR: And let's turn to Rick Klein, our senior Washington editor who's following every step of this. And, Rick, you and I were talking about all of this political theater this weekend. Democrats fighting for tax cuts only for the middle class, something they knew wouldn't get anywhere, but listen to Democratic Senator McCaskill with this directed at the Tea Party.
SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL: They need to pull back the curtain and realize that you've got a Republican Party that's not worried about the people in the Tea Party. They're worried about people that can't decide which home to go to over the Christmas holidays.
MUIR: Clearly some Democrats very frustrated about all of this. So, who won, who lost here?
KLEIN: This is a significant win for Republicans, David. President Obama has been clear this was a critical position, and he is caving on it, in, in allowing all the tax cuts to be extended. He wanted them to expire for the wealthiest Americans. So, this round goes to Republicans who wanted them across the board extended.
MUIR: But the White House will argue they had to do this to extend unemployment benefits.
KLEIN: That's right. The White House views this as the last best chance in this lame-duck Congress and trying to get some of its priorities passed, including - extending unemployment benefits. But the flip side is that this movement is happening while Democrats still control Congress. So, the, the view of many in the left is that if the President has to move this far right now, he's gonna have to go that much farther once - once Republicans take control of the House next month.
MUIR: And, Rick, quickly, this comes after voters in the midterms seem so concerned about government spending and the deficit, and yet we're hearing now about tax cuts and more spending for the benefits.
KLEIN: Yeah. All this talk in Washington about deficit and debt and everything that Congress is, is set to do is gonna make those problems even worse. The problem is, these are the easy things. You, you extend unemployment benefits, you're, you're spending more money, you're cutting taxes, it means less revenue is coming in. All of those things blow bigger holes in our budget deficit.
MUIR: Rick Klein keeping watch in Washington. Rick, thank you.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.