In an otherwise pedestrian questioning Tuesday of White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on the looming debt battle, Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich actually made something out of the gathering by grilling her on her rhetoric smearing 260 members of the House and Senate as domestic extremists and threats to the country for either supporting or voting spending cuts tied to raising the debt ceiling.
Heinrich’s first question had serious bite: “43 Republican senators signed onto a letter opposing raising the debt ceiling without budget reforms, and 217 members in the House voted for that bill to raise the debt limit with cuts to spending. Does the White House consider all of those members to be dangerous, MAGA Republican extremists?”
Jean-Pierre replied that many members of Congress are, indeed, dangers to the country, arguing House Republicans have “voted for cuts that's going to hurt American families...22 percent cuts to veterans, healthcare, schools, that's what they voted for.”
Heinrich recognized the divisive tact against tens of millions of Americans. Reminding Jean-Pierre of the fact that these men and women “represent more than half the country in the House” and said constituents have demanded their representatives address spending, the Fox correspondent fired this hardball:
[H]ow can the White House continue to use messaging and calling this the Default on America Act and — and paint this legislation in such a way without having a conversation about budget when you've got half the country saying that they want that conversation?
Jean-Pierre doubled down, accusing Republicans of “cut[ting]...programs that are incredibly important for the American family.”
Heinrich interjected with a fact-check: “Their bill would raise the debt limit. They passed a bill to raise the debt limit.”
The ever-inept press secretary displayed her lack of a grasp of basic English:
They've connect — I hear you, but they are connecting passing — whatever — this debt limit, to cuts — 22 percent cuts to veterans, to seniors — that's what they are threatening — cuts to our schools. That's what the — that's what is connecting — that's what their budget plan is.
Heinrich responded with even more fact-checking: “The bill doesn't have any appropriations in it, actually and the — the Speaker has, you know, ruled out a number of those things including defense, veterans benefits, senior entitlement programs.”
She then concluded with this outstanding query: “I mean, you have Mitt Romney saying there's got to be a conversation here. Is he a MAGA Republican extremist?”
Seeing as how she can’t think two steps ahead, Jean-Pierre tripled and thus insisted Romney is, as per Heinrich’s phrasing, “MAGA Republican extremist” (click “expand”):
What I'm saying is House Republicans have been very clear. They voted on a bill that will cut programs that are very important to American families. law enforcement — cutting program for law enforcement, cutting program to veterans — veteran care, cutting program to our school system. That's what Republicans have voted on, so those are extreme.. Those are very extreme. These are things that the American people don’t want. Just look at 2022, what they voted for. They voted to protect — to protect their retirement accounts. That’s what the American people want to see, so they’re connecting those two. They want the President to agree on its entire agenda of an extreme budget. It is an extreme budget, something that Americans don’t want.
And, you know, that’s something for them to answer to. This is — this is also speaking to — they’re speaking to their constituents when they’re voting for something like that. And so, look, the President put forth a budget where it also cuts spending, but not hurting American families. We’re trying to make sure that we lower the deficit, by saying that we’re going to cut the deficit by $3 trillion over ten years, but he put forth something that is actually responsible. Remember, show me your value — show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value. That’s what the President said. They showed their value by showing — cutting veterans program, cutting school programs, cutting health care, 22 percent. That’s what they value. That’s something that they have to answer to the American people about.
The Fox Business Network’s Edward Lawrence followed immediately after and asked whether Biden even possess the ability to travel outside his silo: “So, if cutting government spending would help reduce inflation faster, in this meeting today, is the President open to hearing other viewpoints?”
Jean-Pierre didn’t budge and argued Biden wouldn’t even contemplate the validity of argument besides his own. After stating “lowering costs for families is a top priority for Biden” and he’s done that with “only Democrats” via the Inflation Reduction Act, she said Republicans “want to cut programs that's going to lower costs,” “take our economy hostage,” and “bring back failed trickle down economy [sic]”.
To see the relevant transcript from the May 9 briefing, click here.