Tea Party Congressman Asks Cokie Roberts: Why Does Compromise Always Mean Raising Taxes Now and Cutting Spending Later?

July 17th, 2011 1:43 PM

Cokie Roberts got quite a lesson Sunday on why compromise can be a dirty word in politics.

When she asked Congressman Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) why compromise isn't a "message that you hear," the Tea Partier responded, "Why is it that compromise always means increasing taxes today and doing cuts in ten years from now?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

COKIE ROBERTS: Congressman, I'm curious though: how does it work politically to say that we won't raise taxes on billionaires, as the president keeps saying?

CONGRESSMAN RAUL LABRADOR (R-IDAHO): Let's talk about this. The House majority, the House Republicans passed a budget that actually talked about reforming the tax system. We already agreed to that. We said that we want to make sure that we broaden the base which means getting rid of those loopholes and we want to lower the rates. The difference between the Republicans and Democrats is that the president wants to get rid of these loopholes just to increase spending. That's all he’s wanted to do. Everybody gives him credit right now for being the adult at the table. This is the man who came to congress and asked us to raise the debt ceiling without any spending cuts. This is the man who gave us a budget that didn't even get a single vote in the Senate, and now she's saying that he's “serious,” a serious deficit hawk. I think that's a joke. He has never been a deficit hawk.

Moments later, Roberts pressed the issue:

ROBERTS: When Congressman Labrador says, “We were elected to do something,” what I think the American people keep saying is, “You were elected to do something: to come together, to make compromises and make government work. And why isn't that a message that you hear?

LABRADOR: Why is it that compromise always means increasing taxes today and doing cuts in ten years from now? I think that’s the problem the problem with the American people. The American people will not stand for that. I think we can do something, we can come to the table and actually work together. But it is pretty clear that the president is unwilling to, to not increase taxes. He's unwilling to do something serious. I want to know what his plan is. So far, we have no idea what his plan is. He has not put anything on the table. All he talks is, they have all used the same phrase: “grand compromise.” Because that's poll tested. Apparently the polls, people like that. But it doesn't mean anything.

In response, Roberts perfectly illustrated Charles Krauthammer's point about how we now have a "completely compliant, pliant, supine press accepting every leak out of the White House":

ROBERTS: But in the meetings with Vice President Biden, lots of specifics were talked about. They have, they have, what is the number, Jon, $1.4 trillion in...

Interesting. "Lots of specifics were talked about" - but she can't name any.

Even more delicious, the ally whose assistance she sought helped make the Congressman's point:

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: But as George points out, it’s only $2 billion in cuts until 2012…


KARL: …which will never fly with these guys.

$2 billion in cuts, but Roberts thinks it's $1.4 trillion.

Maybe I should cut her some slack. She was only off by about 70,000 percent!