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NBC's Mitchell to Republican: How Do You Justify a Tax Cut for Those Who Don't Need It?

On Tuesday's Andrea Mitchell Reports, Republican Senator Judd Gregg had to remind Andrea Mitchell that hardworking Americans' money belongs to them and not the government, after the NBC reporter pressed him to "justify" a "larger tax cut for those who really don't need it."

On to discuss the tax cut deal in Congress, Gregg explained to Mitchell that the "problem we have as a government today isn't that we're an under-taxed people. It's that we're an overspending government." However an undeterred Mitchell then went on to cite billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett as saying "at a time of deficit crisis that they don't need these tax breaks," to which Gregg zinged back: "If Warren Buffett and Bill Gates want to send us money, we'll take it."

The following exchange was aired on the December 7 edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports:

ANDREA MITCHELL: And New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg is ranking member of the budget committee. He also served on the President's deficit commission and joins us now. Well Republicans and some centrist Democrats are more at peace with what the President has done, but he has completely alienated his liberal base. Can, how does he sustain this?

SEN. JUDD GREGG: Well, to begin with, it's a compromise. And there are a lot of us on our side who are having a significant amount of angst about parts of it too. The fact that the unemployment extension is for 13 months and unpaid for is a very expensive item. The holiday on the FICA tax is also extremely expensive and will aggravate the Social Security trust fund problems which already exist. Both of those are being done because of the economic slowdown. As is the extension of the tax rates. I mean, I don't quite understand the philosophy that says we should raise taxes in the middle of a recession and expect that this recession or slowdown is going to improve when you do that. It's going to have the opposite effect. So if you're interested in getting Americans back to work, if you're interested in being concerned about the prosperity of this country, I think you gotta acknowledge a tax increase at this time would be a huge mistake.

MITCHELL: Well we talk about things that aren't paid for. According to the National Journal's edition, if they had gone with the original White House proposal to limit the tax cut to people $250,000 and under, it would have cost - it's now going to cost $300 billion more than that original White House proposal. So this is not paid for, adding to the federal debt. So how do you, as a deficit hawk, justify going along with a larger tax cut, for those who really don't need it? And it's been argued it's not stimulative. The upper income people, it really doesn't add to the stimulus that you get from the lower income people.

GREGG: Well, my view is it's their money. I mean I don't happen to think that when you have a tax increase that you're basically reducing the deficit by cutting spending. My view is that the way you reduce the deficit is by cutting spending. The problem we have as a government today isn't that we're an under-taxed people. It's that we're an overspending government. The government has gone from 20 percent of GDP in spending to 24 percent of GDP in spending, it's headed towards 28 percent of GDP in spending. Tax revenues on the other hand are headed back up. They're excepted to exceed the historical norm which is about 18.2 percent, next year, and probably hit around 19 percent or 20 percent within the next the years.

So I don't think we're under-taxed. And I don't think when you - I think there's an attitude in Washington that, that "all money is our money here in Washington." That's not my view and I don't think it's the Republican view basically. We don't believe that if you go out and earn a living that, that money, that you earn is our money. We believe it's your money. And we believe that we should be responsible in managing it by having our spending be responsible.

MITCHELL: Yeah but, but I mean the issue is, what is the rate of the tax going to be? And you've had Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and other high earners, to say the least, saying at a time of deficit crisis that they don't need these tax breaks. With that said, you also argued about simplifying-

GREGG: Well if they want to send money into us, we'll take it. If Warren Buffett and Bill Gates want to send us money, we'll take it.

-Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here