Thursday on Good Morning America, anchor George Stephanopoulos repeatedly pressed top economic advisor to President Trump, Gary Cohn, to “guarantee” that Trump’s new tax plan wouldn’t give tax breaks to the wealthy, including specifically the President himself. In his usual fashion, Stephanopoulos aggressively confronted the Republican White House official on who would benefit from the president’s policy, while taking a soft approach on the same topics just four, and eight years earlier, when President Obama began his terms in the Oval Office.
Today’s interview started off friendly enough, with Stephanopoulos asking Cohn to describe how the tax plan benefitted middle class families. After explaining that families earning $55,000 annually would receive a tax break of $650-1000 dollars under Trump’s plan, Stephanopoulos began pressing for more details about how that would actually happen.
He argued that the elimination of state and local tax deductions under Trump’s plan would actually increase taxes, in high tax liberal states like New York. Cohn argued that their tax plan benefitted the majority of the country, saying less than a quarter of the country actually itemizes their taxes. Cohn explained a few more tax breaks that would benefit middle class families, before Stephanopoulos stepped in again to doubt everything Cohn was explaining:
“If I’m hearing you correctly, you can’t guarantee that no middle class families will get a tax increase, there will be middle class families who get a tax increase, correct?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“George, there’s an exception to every rule,” Cohn rebutted.
“That’s a yes?” Stephanopoulos bluntly asked.
Cohn responded that he couldn’t “guarantee” anything, as there are always unique families that will not always fall into the plan’s guidelines. Stephanopoulos then switched approaches, to focus on President Trump:
Look at the front page of USA Today right now. It says that Trump could reap millions from his tax plan. If you look at the tax plan, you're eliminating the estate tax, eliminating the alternative minimum tax, cutting the top rate, cutting capital gains, cutting the tax on past earned income. That means millions of dollars for the President of the United States!
“George, you've got to look at the plan in its entirety. On one hand, you’re talking about people that are raising their taxes because--” Cohn began as Stephanopoulos interrupted:
“Right, middle class people and cuts for the wealthy!” he urged.
Stephanopoulos repeated his question again, saying, “All that means, is millions of dollars in tax cuts for President Trump,” he stated, asking again: “Can you guarantee that President Trump won't get a tax cut under this plan?”
Cohn answered again, that “Wealthy Americans are not getting a tax cut,” before explaining that the mission of the plan is to benefit the middle class, but apparently Stephanopoulos was not listening because he repeated again:
“Will the wealthy get a tax cut or not?” he asked.
“The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan,” Cohn bluntly answered.
“That's not the evidence so far,” the anchor rudely responded before wrapping up the interview.
“Of course, there are a lot of details to come,” he added.
Compare this interview to when Obama was President, and Stephanopoulos acted as if Obama had no control whether the “top one percent” could get tax breaks under his plan. Not to mention, that Stephanopoulos didn’t even think to ask the president a personal, confrontational question like if his tax plan would give him a tax break.
In that 2013 ABC This Week interview, Stephanopoulos shrugged and let President Obama off the hook, saying, “Do you look at that, 4.5 years in and say, ‘Maybe a president just can’t stop this accelerating inequality?’”
On top of that, Stephanopoulos let Obama blame “obstructionist” Republicans for not getting aboard his tax and health care plans, something the ABC anchor wouldn’t let Trump advisors say now about Democrats working with Trump and the GOP for their own tax and health care plans.