Yesterday, on Meet The Press, David Gregory tried to question House Minority Leader John Boehner about this business of wholesale Republican support for extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans without making any effort to pay for the tax cuts in any way. He kept trying to to ask Boehner whether it’s true that the tax cuts are not paid for, and whether Boehner thinks tax cuts pay for themselves. And he kept getting nowhere at all.
Gregory started by playing a video-clip of former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan flatly declaring that tax cuts do not pay for themselves, and tax cuts financed with borrowed money are a “disastrous idea”.
Asked to respond, Boehner not only totally dodged the question. he served up the profundity that “The only way we’re going to get our economy going again … is to get the economy moving”. No kidding? You have to get moving if you want to get going?
MR. GREGORY: … You want to extend the tax cuts, and the Republican leadership does. But Alan Greenspan, who was on this program last week, chairman of the Federal Reserve, said that’s the wrong idea. Here’s what he said.
(Videotape, last Sunday)
DR. ALAN GREENSPAN: Look, I’m very much in favor of tax cuts, but not with borrowed money. And the problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day that proves disastrous. And my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here.
MR. GREGORY: You don’t agree with Republican leaders who say tax cuts pay for themselves.
DR. GREENSPAN: They do not.
MR. GREGORY: Leader Boehner, he puts it right to you.
REP. BOEHNER: The only way we’re going to get our economy going again and solve our budget problems is to get the economy moving, get more people back to work where they can care for their own families and begin to expand the tax rolls to bring more revenue to the federal government. And what we have to do is we have to get our arms around the spending spree that’s going on in Washington, D.C.
Since at first he didn’t succeed, Gregory tried, tried and tried again. To no avail.
Here are attempts 2, 3 and 4:
MR. GREGORY: …I’m sorry, you’re–that–you’re not, you’re not being responsive to a specific point, which is how can you be for cutting the deficit and also cutting taxes, as well, when they’re not paid for?
REP. BOEHNER: Listen, you can’t raise taxes in the middle of a weak economy without risking the double-dip in this recession. President Obama‘s favorite Republican economist, Mark Zandi, came out several weeks ago and made it clear that raising taxes at this point in, in the economy is a very bad idea.
MR. GREGORY: But do you agree that tax cuts cannot be paid for…
REP. BOEHNER: You cannot balance the budget without a…
MR. GREGORY: But tax cuts are not paid for, is that correct?
REP. BOEHNER: I am not for raising taxes on the American people in a soft economy.
David Gregory doggedly launches attempt 5:
MR. GREGORY: That’s not the question, Leader Boehner. The question…
REP. BOEHNER: And the people that the president wants to tax…
MR. GREGORY: …is, are tax cuts paid for or not?
REP. BOEHNER: Listen, what you’re trying to do is get into this Washington game and their funny accounting over there. You cannot get the economy going again by raising taxes on those people who we expect to create jobs in America and to get the economy going again. If we want to solve the budget problem, we’ve got to have a healthy economy and we have to get our arms around the runaway spending that’s going on in Washington, D.C.
In the vain hope that persistence might pay, Gregory tries one last time:
MR. GREGORY: I just want to clarify this. I mean, if you–I’m relying on what Chairman Greenspan said. Maybe–if you’re accusing him of funny Washington games. He says that tax cuts that aren’t paid for are not–they are not cutting the deficit, that they are not actually paid for, it’s borrowed money. And so do you believe tax cuts pay for themselves or not?
REP. BOEHNER: I do believe that we’ve got to get more money in the hands of small businesses and American families to get our economy going again, and the only way to get that economy going again is to do that and to get our arms around the spending.
At that point, Gregory figured he better give Boehner something else to dodge. So he switched to Boehner’s support for the idea of raising the Social Security retirement age to 70.