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Amanpour Presses Paul and Pence to Agree Taxes Must Be Raised, Trumpets Stockman's Crusade

Christine Amanpour spent much of Sunday's This Week arguing with her guests about how taxes must be raised - a theme also echoed on Face the Nation and Meet the Press - as she brought aboard the media's newest hero, tax-hike advocate David Stockman, and also touted Warren Buffett's quest to hike taxes and how even conservatives in Britain have agreed to do so: "They're saying there for every $3 in spending cuts, $1 up in taxes."

Advancing the media-Democratic line against the agenda of victorious conservatives, Amanpour asserted to Senator-elect Rand Paul: "There are many economists who simply say the math does not add up, if you're not going to agree to raising taxes. Do you agree that taxes will have to be raised, as well?" Rand retorted: "I think it's not a revenue problem. It's a spending problem." To which, Amanpour countered: "But it is a revenue problem according to so many economists."

Amanpour soon repeated: "Without making strong entitlement and other cuts, and even if one does, most of the economists say the math does not add up to keep tax cuts on and on and on. Will you agree to some?"

At the top of her show, with "Tax Cut Mantra" derisively on screen, Amanpour touted Stockman: "Their hero may be Ronald Reagan, but his tax man says that [extending the current tax rates] will finish the economy off."

Amanpour paired Stockman with Republican Congressman Mike Pence. When he cited potential budget cuts, Amanpour declared "the math isn't there" and then launched into a lecture:

But sir, with all due respect, what you just said was the campaign slogans. Now, it's time to legislate. You have a new Congress. You have a new reality. You have a huge budget deficit, a massive national debt. And what I'm trying to figure out is, where, beyond what you've been saying in the campaign, about, you know, less government, less spending, where you're going to make big cuts? And do you agree that there will, after a period of time, perhaps, need to be tax increases?

She later forwarded another liberal talking point: "You all talk about the middle class, but the middle class, we've seen their incomes stagnant. Whereas, the huge amount of wealth that's been accumulated by a very, very small top percent. It's not fair, is it? Is it?"

A week ago: "60 Minutes Promotes Washington's 1098 Income Tax Initiative, Stahl Hails Stockman as 'Brave' for Wanting Tax Hikes"

Amanpour's competitors on NBC and CBS also pushed the necessity to raise income tax rates:

David Gregory, on NBC's Meet the Press:

Republicans and Democrats have to come to grips with the fact that you may have to raise taxes if you really want to bring the budget under control at some point.

Bob Schieffer to Mitch McConnell, on CBS's Face the Nation:

You have argued that one of the main purposes, and other Republicans say the same thing, is to reduce the deficit, but I have to ask you Senator McConnell, when you're talking about extending those tax cuts for upper income Americans, the estimates are that will cost $700 billion over the next ten years. I mean, if you take all the tax cut together you're talking about $4 trillion. How do you intend to pay for those tax cuts? [McConnell: "Bob, it only costs $700 billion if you consider it the government's money..."]

Amanpour teased the November 7 This Week:

Their hero may be Ronald Reagan, but his tax man says that [extending the current tax rates] will finish the economy off. While this Republican says tax cuts will revive it. David Stockman versus Michael Pence, an exclusive This Week debate.

Amanpour's taxes line of questioning to Senator-elect Rand Paul:

> Well, we've all seen and we've followed the campaign. And there was a lot of talk, a lot of slogans and platitudes about cutting the debt, balancing the budget, cutting the deficit. But there has not been any direct information on how you're going to do that. No specifics. It was fairly content-free, the platform. So, where are you going to cut in order to make a meaningful change?

> Military? You would cut the military? [Rand Paul: "Yes."] By how much?

> The question, again, is exactly what? Because, again, the Republicans in the campaign have come up with $50 billion here, $100 billion there. A lot to you and me, but in terms of reducing a $1.3 trillion deficit, how does the math add up? Are you going to cut entitlements?...Social Security?...Raise the retirement age?

> What about health care? All candidates were saying we had to repeal health care. Yet, the American people did not say that in this election. 47 percent said repeal, 48 percent said no.

> Let me ask you this, in terms again of balancing the budget. There are many economists who simply says the math does not add up, if you're not going to agree to raising taxes. Do you agree that taxes will have to be raised, as well?

[Paul: "Well, I think it's not a revenue problem. It's a spending problem."]

But it is a revenue problem according to so many economists.

> Without making strong entitlement and other cuts, and even if one does, most of the economists say the math does not add up to keep tax cuts on and on and on. Will you agree to some?

> Pay for soldiers? Would you cut that?

> Have you thought much about foreign policy? Does the Tea Party have foreign policy?

Setting up second segment:

The Bush era tax cuts expire at the end of this year. If Congress doesn't extend them, taxes will go up for everyone. One man says that would be a good thing. David Stockman was the budget director for President Ronald Reagan. He criticizes his party for sticking with the tax cut mantra. And he joins us this morning. Also, Congressman Mike Pence, a senior House Republican leader who takes the opposite view.

Most of Amanpour's questions to David Stockman and Congressman Mike Pence:

> David Stockman, former budget director. You have, basically, said that Tuesday gave voice and gave further voice to what you call the big lie....And you're saying tax increase and entitlement cuts are the only policy tools right now.

> [To Pence]: This gentleman here is saying no. Correct? You don't want to cut any - you want to extend the tax cuts?

> [To Pence]: But the math isn't there...But sir, with all due respect, what you just said was the campaign slogans. Now, it's time to legislate. You have a new Congress. You have a new reality. You have a huge budget deficit, a massive national debt. And what I'm trying to figure out is, where, beyond what you've been saying in the campaign, about, you know, less government, less spending, where you're going to make big cuts? And do you agree that there will, after a period of time, perhaps, need to be tax increases?

> [To Stockman]: You heard Rand Paul say it wasn't a revenue problem. And you also heard some economists saying that, perhaps, right now extending and increasing taxes in this crisis right now, immediately, might not be the most wise thing. What are you saying?

> [To Pence]: You all talk about the middle class, but the middle class, we've seen their incomes stagnant. Whereas, the huge amount of wealth that's been accumulated by a very, very small top percent. It's not fair, is it? Is it?

From the roundtable:

AMANPOUR: The tax battle is going to be a big one, it's going to come up pretty soon. Let me just play you what Warren Buffett has said about this. As we heard from Rand Paul, we heard David Stockman and Mike Pence talk about it. Let me just say what Warren Buffett thinks.

BUFFETT, ON CNN ON OCTOBER 5: We're going to have to get more money from somebody. Now, the question is do we get more money from the person that's going to serve me lunch today? Or do we get it from me?

AMANPOUR, TO JOHN PODESTA: There you go. That's the question. And this is to you. Is progressive politics dead? Are your liberal ideas dead?

....

SENATOR EVAN BAYH: Look at the UK. A coalition government comes in. You have conservatives coming in. They don't like tax increases, either. Their solution was, 75 percent spending restraint. But once they got that, they then put 25 percent revenue on the table. So, a compromise can be worked out.

AMANPOUR: They're saying there for every $3 in spending cuts, $1 up in taxes.

BAYH: That's a conservative government.

AMANPOUR: Precisely. [Mumbles something]

GEORGE WILL: No. What the Republicans will say is, if you extend all the Bush tax cuts, you will still be raising a percentage of GDP about 18 percent in federal revenues, which is slightly above the post-war norm. The Republicans do not think we have a problem of too low taxes, but too much spending...

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.