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'Lost Revenue' for Government in Tax Rate Deal Distresses NBC's Williams and Todd

Brian Williams adopted a liberal framework as he opened Monday's NBC Nightly News by declaring "it's a fair question to ask and for a while now Americans have been wondering how lawmakers in Washington could possibly extend tax breaks for wealthy Americans while allowing benefits for jobless Americans to be cut off."

Then, after Chuck Todd outlined the Obama-GOP compromise to maintain income taxes at their current rates for two years while extending unemployment benefits and implementing a temporary reduction in the payroll tax, Williams fretted the deal contradicts how "the fight has been over anything in government that isn't paid for," yet, as Todd despaired in filling in Williams' regret, "none of this is paid for. In terms of lost revenue for the government next year, it's $450 billion."

From the Monday, December 6 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening. It's a fair question to ask and for a while now Americans have been wondering how lawmakers in Washington could possibly extend tax breaks for wealthy Americans while allowing benefits for jobless Americans to be cut off. It's all part of the fight between the parties, the President and the Republicans, the fight over what the midterm elections meant. They've been talking tonight at the White House where word arrived late in the day of the makings of a deal, and then the President stepped before the cameras.

....

CHUCK TODD: Here's the outline of the compromise, Brian. A two-year extension of the so-called Bush tax cuts or Bush tax rates. None of those will go up for anybody, including wealthiest Americans. A 13-month extension of unemployment insurance benefits, not just for the month of December this year, all of next year, as well. And then a new twist, a two percentage point drop in the payroll taxes, essentially a payroll tax holiday. To put this inn layman's terms, a family of four with a household income of $50,000 a year will see a $1,000 tax break next year. So this is actually a new tax cut.

Now, the reason we're calling this an imminent deal and not quite a done deal is that Democrats, congressional Democrats, Brian, have not yet signed off on this. Republicans have, the White House has. But they're waiting for Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats, particularly on the House side, to sign off on this deal. When it does, it gets on his desk and what does that mean? Clears the decks for a foreign policy victory for the President, including perhaps ratification of that arms deal with Russia, Brian.

WILLIAMS: And yet, Chuck, one more word on this. The fight has been over anything in government that isn't paid for, anything that costs government more money.

TODD: Brian, none of this is paid for. In terms of lost revenue for the government next year, it's $450 billion, nearly half a trillion dollars. To compare this, in comparison, the stimulus that President Obama put in, enacted back in early 2009, that cost on an annual basis, approximately half a trillion dollars. So the deficit in the short term is going up. Whether it's on Social Security or all sorts of things, none of that has been dealt with with this plan.

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