NBC's Guthrie Hammers Ryan: ‘Are You Living in a Fantasy World?’

In a particularly hostile interview with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday’s NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie interrogated the Republican leader over newly-passed tax reform legislation and suggested that he was “living in a fantasy world” for predicting the bill would spur economic growth.

“And by far, the biggest tax cut here, the cut in rate, is going to corporations....As I understand your argument, and that of your colleagues, you’re counting on corporations to take that money they now have and plow it right back into the economy, hire people, raise wages.” Guthrie began the exchange. Setting up her smear, she noted: “It doesn’t work if they don’t do that. Is that correct?”

 

 

After Ryan explained that “studies show us that that is exactly what does happen” and that “we tax American corporations at the highest rate in the industrialized world,” Guthrie pressed: “The idea is – yes, that the corporations will then spend the money on their workers, on jobs, that kind of thing. Correct?” Ryan replied: “Yes, but what we also say to corporations, not only are we going to let you bring your money back from overseas which is trapped overseas, we’re going to tax you at a rate that is on par with the rest of the world.”

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She then launched her attack by citing a wealthy liberal activist:

Let me quote Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire, hardly an enemy of business. He said, “CEOs aren’t waiting on a tax cut to ‘jump-start the economy,’ a favorite phrase of politicians who have never run a company – or to hand out raises. It’s pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth.” I’ll ask you plainly, are you living in a fantasy world?

Ryan pushed back hard with actual data: “I would compare that anecdote to just the surveys of businesses – like the National Association of Manufacturers – surveys which show the vast majority of businesses are going to do just what we say, reinvest in their worker, reinvest in their factories, pay people more money, higher wages.”

The biased exchange was brought to viewers by Ford, Tide, and Macy’s.

Here is a portion of the December 20 interview:

7:06 AM ET

(...)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And by far, the biggest tax cut here, the cut in rate, is going to corporations. Their tax rate goes from 35% to 21%. As I understand your argument, and that of your colleagues, you’re counting on corporations to take that money they now have and plow it right back into the economy, hire people, raise wages. It doesn’t work if they don’t do that. Is that correct?

PAUL RYAN: No, the studies show us that that is exactly what does happen. But first of all, Savannah, don’t forget that we tax American corporations at the highest rate in the industrialized world. And as a result of that, we’re losing jobs. We’re losing jobs overseas. And more importantly, American businesses are becoming foreign companies. They call them inversions. And so we’re seeing a rash of U.S. companies relocating overseas for lower tax rates.

GUTHRIE: Right, and this is what you’re trying to fix. So the rate goes down, the –

RYAN: Yes, that’s right. So we’re trying to fix that. So we want to get that – that’s right.

GUTHRIE: The idea is – yes, that the corporations will then spend the money on their workers, on jobs, that kind of thing. Correct?

RYAN: Yes, but what we also say to corporations, not only are we going to let you bring your money back from overseas which is trapped overseas, we’re going to tax you at a rate that is on par with the rest of the world.

GUTHRIE: Gotcha.

RYAN: But we’re going to give you an incentive to invest in American jobs and American businesses. You can write off your investments, if you do it in America, by hiring more people when you purchase new plants and equipment. So we are convinced, and the studies are really clear, workers benefit, wages go up, more jobs occur. But most importantly, we need to put the American economy in a better competitive position so that we can compete and win jobs and get faster economic growth. But don’t forget, this is a big tax cut for families, as well.

GUTHRIE: It is, and I want to that, but let me just jump in on this. Because, again, the biggest tax rate cut is for corporations. And the problem is that a lot of CEOs have said, really candidly,  I’m looking at a list of CEOs who said, “We don’t plan to reinvest.” What they’re planning to do is to do stock buy-backs, to line the pockets of shareholders. Let me quote Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire, hardly an enemy of business. He said, “CEOs aren’t waiting on a tax cut to ‘jump-start the economy,’ a favorite phrase of politicians who have never run a company – or to hand out raises. It’s pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth.” I’ll ask you plainly, are you living in a fantasy world?

RYAN: I would compare that anecdote to just the surveys of businesses – like the National Association of Manufacturers – surveys which show the vast majority of businesses are going to do just what we say, reinvest in their worker, reinvest in their factories, pay people more money, higher wages.

GUTHRIE: Let me pin you down on that, though.

RYAN: The data is really clear, by the way, workers benefit from this through higher wages. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of how much they benefit, is really where this goes.

(...)


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