If you are a teenager or young adult – there are actually more things to bore you on a Sunday morning than church. I spent my entire life spending Sunday mornings inside a sanctuary and I had no idea that there was such a vaunted slate of Sunday morning news shows on television until I was in college. Most people tend to click past the “Sunday talking heads” programs so they can get to the weekly NFL countdown to be visually assaulted by Deion Sander’s suits.
But I’m here to tell you that you cannot find a better hour of news programming than on NBC’s Meet The Press. Perhaps it is the latent politics student inside of me that finds the frankness of the interviews so rewarding, but I am convinced that there is not a better journalist in the business than David Gregory. He is smart, informed, and not afraid to call out his guests on a variety of topics to get to the bottom of an issue. He doesn’t let his guests evade questions and tells them when they are avoiding making a firm declaration. He is quite frankly, exactly what a journalist is supposed to be.
The Grading Gregory column is going to become a weekly feature here on Life’s Worth Knowing – a way for us to explore current events and add some of our commentary into the world of political economy – it will also spare you, the reader, from having to sit through the entire hour long newscast – and just check out the highlights from his headline interview here.
So without further ado…
Grading Gregory 11/20/11
All of the top stories of this week are revolving around the “SuperCommittee’ deadline that looms this Wednesday. As part of the debt ceiling deal back in the Summer, Congress mandated that this group of 12 politicians would meet to discuss the best ways to address the federal budget deficit. If the SuperCommittee did not coming up with 1.2 trillion in cuts by this Wednesday, that same amount would be cut from the federal budget – mostly from the defense department. The choice was either to carefully plan and implement a dangerous amputation – or bring in the guy with the axe.
Needless to say, by Sunday, the Republican chair of the committee – Senator John Kyl was nearly begging for the axe man to put him out of his misery. Gregory came right at Kyl asking him straight away: “Is this going to fail?” to which Kyl responded by evading the question and blaming the Democrats for being unreasonable on entitlement cuts.
The crux of the issue was brought to the forefront by Gregory a few minutes later:
“But let’s talk about the full, balanced picture here, which is that Republicans wanted to have a conversation in the course of trying to lower the deficit about extending the Bush-era tax cuts, which the Congressional Budget Office would say has an impact of $3.7 trillion on the deficit. So, in the name of lowering the deficit, you want to extend those tax cuts, which increases the deficit and would not be off-set by the tax increase that you were talking about.”
Kyl responded by in kind
“This is not about extending the Bush tax cuts, it was about trying to do entitlement reform on the mandatory side of the budget. Now, when our Democratic friends made it very clear that they weren’t going to do anything without raising taxes, we then turned to, what is the best way to derive revenues? Is it to allow the current code to expire and have the biggest tax [hike] in the history of our country? No.”
That was about as close as Kyl came to explaining why the SuperCommittee couldn’t come to a deal, and it really makes no sense in light of Gregory line of questioning. In fact, Gregory had Sen. John Kerry on minutes later for a rebuttal, and the whole issue could be boiled down to one quip – when Kerry stated “We are not a tax-cutting committee. We’re a deficit-reduction committee.”
And that is really where the SuperCommittee fell apart – the Republicans were still clinging to their economic voodoo of raising revenue by cutting taxes. It simply doesn’t work, and every economist knows it. This committee wasn’t designed to cut taxes, it was designed to fix our budget deficit – and the only serious way to approach that is through tax increases, and Senator Kyl missed the opportunity to do something worthwhile – a point that Gregory brought up at the end of the interview by asking the Senator:
“You’re retiring from the Senate. Are you embarrassed at what Congress has been unable to do on the toughest issues facing this country and this government?”
It really doesn’t matter how Kyl responded does it?