Tea Party's Dana Loesch Battles Eliot Spitzer on Taxes and Spending

December 21st, 2010 10:31 AM

St. Louis Tea Party co-founder Dana Loesch took on CNN's Eliot Spitzer Monday evening in a classic battle between Right and Left.

From the opening bell, Loesch gave Spitzer a much-needed education on how extending existing tax rates isn't a tax cut (video follows with transcript and commentary):  

ELIOT SPITZER, CNN ANCHOR: One group that hasn't been heard from much is the Tea Party and they're mad about almost everything that Congress is doing right now.

Joining us to talk about this, Tea Party activist and editor-in- chief of Bigjournalism.com, Dana Loesch.

DANA LOESCH, TEA PARTY ACTIVIST: Thanks for having me back. Merry Christmas to both of you.

SPITZER: Why, thank you.

PARKER: Merry Christmas.

SPITZER: All right. So the Republicans and the Tea Party won a major battle. The Bush tax cuts are extended. You've added a trillion dollars to the federal deficit even though your whole mantra was cut the deficit, balance the budget.

What are you going to do now? Now that you won, you're in charge? Governing is different than campaigning. What's the agenda? How do you cut the budget?

LOESCH: Well, first of all there are two inaccuracies in what you just said. The first being that these are somehow tax cuts. It's not a tax cut. It's basically just an extension of the tax rate which we have had for the past 10 years and I don't really think that it does all that much truly to alleviate some of the concerns that small businesses have.

Now so far as how it adds to the deficits, tax cuts themselves aren't expensive because statistically -- and you can look all the way back to Woodrow Wilson and in either 1912-1916 -- tax cuts actually add to government revenue. The thing that costs is big spending.

Now what I would cut if I were advising this administration, it's really quite simple. And to put it in very fast soundbite terms, and I've said this before on your show, I would cut absolutely everything that is not enumerated in Article 1 section 8. Have a beautiful, luscious budget surplus and everyone is happy. It's kittens and sunshine. That's what I'd do.

SPITZER: Hey, Dana, just so we can understand, because I apologize, I'm just a lawyer and I know Article 1 section 8, and --

LOESCH: I don't.


SPITZER: We just want to understand.


SPITZER: So can we just go through things and you know? You said it was a soundbite. Social Security? Are you going to cut -- are you going to -- I'm just trying to understand for our audience as well. You're going to cut Social Security?

Nice question. Be prepared for Spitzer not to like Loesch's answer:

LOESCH: I would if it were my choice. I would allow people to choose whether or not they want to invest their money or if they want the government to control their money.

SPITZER: Wait, wait.

LOESCH: And I know Democrats like to spend that as conservatives stealing old people's money. That's not necessarily how it works. But that's how people --


SPITZER: But Dana --

PARKER: Wait a minute.

SPITZER: I just go to follow up, because I'm just trying to understand whether or not you call it --


LOESCH: Now you're doing the lawyer thing. That's OK.

SPITZER: No, no, no, I'm -- no. I'm just trying to follow along here. Whether or not you call it an extension, I'll put that aside. Everybody agrees there will be a trillion dollars less in revenue over the next two years.

Actually, not everyone agrees with that.

If entities were counting on revenue that would come if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire, they did so at their own peril for no one believed with unemployment above 9 percent taxes were going to be raised across the board. But I digress:

SPITZER: When you say, give people a choice on Social Security, giving them a choice is also going to eliminate revenue for the government. You're not going to save a penny over the next two years. You're going to actually lose money. So are you cutting Social Security spending or not?

Classic liberal mistake: if people were given a choice to opt out of the current Social Security system and invest their contributions as they saw fit, this would reduce future expenses to the program thereby reducing the nation's unfunded liabilities. Not surprisingly, Spitzer doesn't seem to get that.

But it was about to get better, for as Loesch rattled off things that could be cut from the current budget, Spitzer fought her at every turn:

LOESCH: Well, wait a minute. I'm curious because you seem to think that the only way that government can collect money is by taking the fruits of someone else's labor and spending it on entitlements.

If you're concerned about cutting the budget let's talk about the $26 billion edu jobs, teachers unions payoffs. We can start with that.

SPITZER: Wait, wait, wait, Dana?

LOESCH: What is it? Unemployment benefits, 13-month extension, it's $56 billion? Let's start with Planned Parenthood funding.


PARKER: Wait a minute. I want to --

LOESCH: That's now belong to the edu jobs bill.

PARKER: I'm going to interrupt.

LOESCH: We can easily get those unemployment benefits paid for.

PARKER: I'm going to interrupt both -- I'm going to interrupt both of you because I'm not a lawyer and I hope that some of our viewers are not lawyers. I'm personally sick of lawyers even though I married one. So -- married to one, I apologize to him.

But would you just tell us what Article 1, section 8 is please?

LOESCH: Article 1, section 8 is all the enumerated powers of the Constitution. What the Constitution -- what the government is allowed to do. What it's allowed to collect revenue for. For things very simple like roads, like emergency services, like national defense.

It's not supposed to go towards things like the $26 billion edu jobs bill. It's not supposed to go towards beaver management which is what there were earmarks for.

SPITZER: Dana? Dana, are you saying --

PARKER: Thank you very much.


LOESCH: Those things aren't supposed to go --

PARKER: Thank you very much.

LOESCH: You're welcome.

SPITZER: Are you saying that Social Security is not authorized by the Constitution?

Actually, that's a great question.

Most historians believe that if Franklin Delano Roosevelt hadn't threatened to expand the number of Supreme Court justices to sixteen thereby stocking the court with seven of his own liberal picks, Social Security likely would have been struck down. But most Americans - including possibly Spitzer - don't know this ugly part of Social Security history:

LOESCH: Why do you keep focusing on Social Security?

SPITZER: Well, because that and Medicare --

LOESCH: I'm not saying --

SPITZER: No, no.

LOESCH: Because you seem to --


LOESCH: You focus on that but you ignore everything else.

SPITZER: No, no, no.

LOESCH: And all of that stuff, actually if you add it together costs more.

SPITZER: No, Dana, it doesn't. I'm trying to talk, as you know, we've had this conversation a couple of times. I'm trying to focus on where the money really is, which defense spending, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Those are the four big repositories of federal spending.

LOESCH: OK. Right.

SPITZER: And you -- I'm just trying to get a sense of how you're going to cut a trillion dollars from there.

LOESCH: Yes. Well, first of all let's talk about defense spending. Is that something that concerns you? Defense spending? Do you think that it's -- do you think that we either spend too much on it or do you think that it's mismanaged?

SPITZER: Well, I'm asking you how you're going to save a trillion dollars. I'm just trying to figure out whether or not we're going to cut defense spending. Do you want to cut defense spending?

LOESCH: Well, going off the presupposition that tax cuts actually cost instead of add revenue to the government, I'll play devil's advocate for just a moment, and I'll let you frame it that way when we all know that it's illogical. But I'm going to go with it for a second.

Some of the things that I would cut include, for instance, there was a defense appropriations bill that was in 2009 that our president supported within that piece of legislation.

Now for a minute remember that this was to go towards things like funding the cost of munitions and funding salaries for our military servicemen and women. Included in this legislation was like millions and millions of dollars for a visitors' center in San Francisco.

In a defense appropriations bill that has -- should have no reason for being included in it but yet it was we can talk about responsible defense spending. And by the way, that was something that was added in there by Democrats because that was a Nancy Pelosi district.

SPITZER: Dana? Dana? LOESCH: So we can start -- I'm just answering your question.

SPITZER: No, no, no. OK. But I'm trying --

LOESCH: Is what I'm doing.

SPITZER: I'm trying to get anything close to a trillion dollars in cuts. That's all I'm trying to do. Because the Tea Party, and you're one of the big --

LOESCH: I was giving you a bunch of stuff.

SPITZER: Well, you cut so far --

LOESCH: But you don't seem to like my answers --

SPITZER: No, no.

LOESCH: -- because it doesn't fit into the agenda.

And that is indeed the point: Spitzer, like so many in the liberal media, doesn't like the answers because they don't fit into the agenda.

Loesch began by explaining that calling the extension of existing tax rates "cuts" is absurd; Eliot didn't like that.

She then offered a way to reduce Social Security's long-term liabilities; Eliot didn't like that either.

Next, she went after cutting ridiculous earmarks to defense appropriations bills, and not surprisingly, Eliot didn't like that either:

SPITZER: So far we've cut a visitors center in San Francisco. And OK, I'm --

LOESCH: No, I'm giving you examples of egregious wasteful spending that are included in defense spending. Because you like to say that defense spending is wasteful. I'm actually agreeing with you on it and I'm telling you in what ways it is --


LOESCH: -- and that can go towards being saving a trillion dollars from our deficit.

SPITZER: You've cut -- you've cut a visitors center in San Francisco. You know, with all due deference.

LOESCH: No, I gave you one example.


LOESCH: I gave you one example.

SPITZER: Do have you any others?

PARKER: Dana, I know that you are

LOESCH: Yes. There's a --

PARKER: Yes, go ahead. No, I'll let you finish that then I have a question for you.

LOESCH: OK. Well, but for instance -- for instance, Mr. Spitzer, we could get into I think it was the Edward Kennedy Information Center Policy Institute, millions of dollars spent towards that. I mean, we -- there are so many earmarks that are included in appropriations bills such as this that could -- that are spent. It's passed. They're bribes. It's spent.


LOESCH: That could go towards saving a trillion dollars. But --

SPITZER: No, actually -- Dana?

LOESCH: Instead of focusing -- instead of focusing on all of those instances, because I think we both agree that billions and billions and billions and billions of dollars add up to make a trillion over a period of time. Instead of wanting to cut that wasteful spending you want to take money from people who are trying to save it up for their retirement and instead have the government loot it as has been done by Social Security over and over again.

Al Gore promised to put it in a locked box. People keep stealing from it. Why is it that everyone else has to suffer? It's their money, it's the fruits of their labor. It doesn't belong to the state.

PARKER: I feel like I've joined joining Carl Sagan in hell.

LOESCH: Cut spending. 

Indeed. Like any business or intelligent individual, government needs to cut its runaway spending in order to balance its budget. 

This is what Loesch offered Spitzer from the onset of this segment, but he wasn't having any of it for like most liberal media members, his only answer is to raise taxes.

Alas, that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Nice job, Dana. Brava!