On CNN, GOP Senator Calls Out 'Negative' Media Bias Against Tax Cut Plan

On Tuesday's New Day on CNN, as Senator John Kennedy appeared as a guest to discuss the Republican tax cut plan, the Louisiana Republican implicated the "negative" media coverage of the proposal after host Chris Cuomo brought up a CNN poll finding that most Americans oppose the plan.

At 7:24 a.m. ET, Cuomo set up the segment: "Republicans in the House are set to vote on the final version of their tax plan today. The Senate is expected to get the bill to the President's desk by tomorrow. Our new CNN poll shows 55 percent of you oppose this bill. What is that going to mean to Senators?"

 

 

After introducing Kennedy, Cuomo posed: "So you know the poll numbers, I don't have to tell you about that. What does that mean to the people in your state? How do you sell this tax plan to them?"

The Republican Senator began by pointing out the negative media coverage of the proposal:

I tell them the truth -- the good part and the bad part. I think the poll numbers are a reflection of a couple of things. I think any reasonable person would look at the media coverage -- and media has done its job, and most of the media has been negative. I'm not fussing about that, but it's just the fact. 

He then went on to note some of the original parts of the bill that he had problems with that have since been changed.

Host Cuomo then brought up the argument that the plan provides less tax cuts to the middle class than to the wealthy without noting that an overwhelming majority of taxes are paid by the wealthy:

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Senator, I think the fundamental problem here was not one of your making. This was sold as something that would be designed to advantage the middle class the most, And it is very difficult to look at this bill's architecture and see it that way -- not just because of what you just pointed out that needed to be fixed -- but the theory here seems to be pretty obvious:

We will help the top tier the most because we believe that they, in turn, will help the middle class. That's the sell on this -- it's not that we are advantaging the middle class as the President promised and we're going to put it on the backs of the rich, let them pay even more -- that's not what was done.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday, December 19, New Day on CNN:

7:24 a.m. ET

CHRIS CUOMO: Republicans in the House are set to vote on the final version of their tax plan today. The Senate is expected to get the bill to the President's desk by tomorrow. Our new CNN poll shows 55 percent of you oppose this bill. What is that going to mean to Senators? Joining us now is a Republican Senator, John Kennedy, of Louisiana. Senator, always a pleasure.

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): Thank you, Chris. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: So you know the poll numbers, I don't have to tell you about that. What does that mean to the people in your state? How do you sell this tax plan to them?

KENNEDY: I tell them the truth -- the good part and the bad part. I think the poll numbers are a reflection of a couple of things. I think any reasonable person would look at the media coverage -- and media has done its job, and most of the media has been negative. I'm not fussing about that, but it's just the fact. Number two, the bill has changed a lot. I think a lot of folks don't really understand yet what's in it -- not because they're not smart but because it's just changed. I mean, I've probably spent -- I don't know -- 300 hours on this legislation trying to keep up with the changes. 

But I'll tell you this -- the conference committee report made this bill better. Senator Rubio, Senator Lee, in my opinion, did the American people a great service by increasing the child tax credit. We cleaned up some of the problems -- for example, we're not going to tax tuition waivers for graduate students. We're not going to remove teachers' deduction for out of pocket spending on classroom materials. We're going to expand parents' ability to use a 529 program. A lot of the stuff that never made sense to me, we cleaned up. And once folks learn that, they'll be appreciative. Go ahead.

CUOMO: Senator, I think the fundamental problem here was not one of your making. This was sold as something that would be designed to advantage the middle class the most, And it is very difficult to look at this bill's architecture and see it that way -- not just because of what you just pointed out that needed to be fixed -- but the theory here seems to be pretty obvious: We will help the top tier the most because we believe that they, in turn, will help the middle class. That's the sell on this -- it's not that we are advantaging the middle class as the President promised and we're going to put it on the backs of the rich, let them pay even more -- that's not what was done.

KENNEDY: A couple of points -- you make a good one, but a couple of points -- I don't think you ought to make tax policy on the basis of class warfare. I think you ought to make tax policy on the basis of sound economic principles. Number two, this bill does help ordinary people -- doubling the standard deduction, doubling the child tax credit, lowering the tax rates. Number three, what helps American people the most is giving them access to a quality job. I think this bill will do that. It's going to cut taxes on every single business, and there are two impacts of that that haven't been talked about a lot. 

Number one, it's going to, I think it's going to increase foreign direct investment by 50 percent. A lot of out of this country capital is going to come into America. Number two, when we allow small business people to expense their new buildings and equipment and software rather than to depreciate them, that's going to help their business grow. What does that mean? It means that they're going to add workers, add jobs.

CUOMO: Maybe.

KENNEDY: That means -- well, I believe it will.

CUOMO: I know, and I'm not saying that you don't believe it, but they're maybes, Senator. They're maybes.

KENNEDY: Okay, I'll concede that. But, as you add jobs, wage pressure is going to go up. And the other impact of buying that new software, people, workers are going to become more productive. The real problem with wages, Chris, is that we ought to be -- our productivity growth ought to be about two percent. For the past eight years, it's been one percent. And given our demographics -- we're all getting older -- we're not adding workers, so we've got to make the current workers more productive before you see a wage increase, and that's a long-winded way of saying that I believe -- I believe -- and if I'm wrong I'll come back on your show and say I was wrong and here's why -- but I believe that a rising tide does lift all boats. This isn't a zero-sum game. You don't make the middle class better by making the upper middle class poorer or vice versa. We all ought to rise together.

CUOMO: No, I hear you. It's just that at the end of the day, there are a lot of maybes in there, and I'm not going to say that you're wrong about them because I don't have any better data about the future than you do. But the corporate tax cuts are permanent. The ones for individuals and the families who put you into office are temporary. And that's because there was a preference given to the corporations, and individuals didn't get. I know there are reasons for that, but that's going to be something that they're going to have to swallow.

KENNEDY: Well, two points. Number one, I would have liked to have made the personal tax cuts permanent, but, as you know, we have the $1.5 trillion guard rail. Number two, President Bush's tax cuts are temporary, too. They were renewed, and I feel very confident, no matter who's in power, that these tax cuts for ordinary people will be renewed. I honestly believe that this bill is going to add between a half a point and a full point to Gross Domestic Product, and you're going to see foreign direct investment go up 50 percent. If I'm wrong, I'll admit you're right, Economic forecasting is more art than science.

CUOMO: No, I don't -- listen, let's be clear about one thing, Senator. I don't want to be right about this. I'm just saying that you have to question the priorities and the choices that are made. That's my only point.


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