Who needs Fox when we've got the talking heads over at CBS doing their best to keep up with them. Here's what the viewers were treated to just after Bob Schieffer's pearl clutching over whether David Axelrod was willing to use the word lie (gasp!) when talking about Mitt Romney -- CBS News Covers For Romney Campaign's Tax Doublespeak:
CBS chief political correspondent John Dickerson disputed President Obama's description of Mitt Romney's tax plan as a "$5 trillion tax cut" because one of Romney's advisers suggested he would reduce the size of his proposed tax cuts if he could not pay for them. But Dickerson is ignoring the fact that Romney running mate Paul Ryan suggested last week that Romney would not reduce the size of his tax cuts because lowering taxes is his highest priority.
During a panel discussion on the presidential debate on Face The Nation, Dickerson said that it was unfair to accuse Romney of being dishonest about his tax plan. Dickerson explained that a top Romney economic adviser "said we have two goals here. One is deficit reduction, the other is reducing marginal rates. If those come in conflict our primary goal is deficit reduction and the marginal rates might not go down as much."
That stands in direct contrast to remarks by Paul Ryan, who was asked specifically if Mitt Romney would "scale back on the 20 percent tax cut for the wealthy" if the cuts could not be paid for and replied "No, no.".
Dickerson also did his best to play the "both sides" are equally terrible false equivalency game by attempting to equate Romney's constant lying on the campaign trail about anything and everything he's done to President Obama for not keeping a campaign pledge to cut the budget in half and not closing Gitmo. As Axelrod rightfully pointed out, the comparison is utterly ridiculous, considering he was at the mercy of Congress on accomplishing both.
Whether Axelrod is right about the lies catching up, who knows, but it seems CBS is more than willing to do their part to help Romney out and gloss over them.
Transcript below the fold.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Welcome to FACE THE NATION. David Axelrod, of course, is a senior campaign strategist--the senior campaign strategist for President Obama. Thank you for coming this morning.
DAVID AXELROD (Obama Campaign Senior Strategist): Good to be here, Bob.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're joined by CBS THIS MORNING co-host Norah O'Donnell and political director John Dickerson. I'm just going to start, Mister Axelrod, with the obvious question. What happened?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, what happened was the President showed up with the intent of answering questions and having a discussion, an honest discussion about where we go as a country, and Governor Romney showed up to deliver a performance, and he delivered a very good performance. It was completely un-rooted. In fact it was completely un-rooted in the positions he's taken before, and he spent ninety minutes trying to undo two years of campaigning on that stage but he did it very well.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What-- are you saying that Governor Romney lied or was dishonest?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, yeah, I think he was dishonest, absolutely. When he said he never proposed five trillion dollars in tax cutes that was dishonest. He said on the broadcast to seventy million Americans, "I will repeal Obamacare, but I'll still be able to cover people with preexisting conditions," and ten minutes after the debate he sent someone into the press room to say, well, you know, he really didn't mean that. He said, "I-- I want more teachers. I love teachers." It was just a few weeks ago when he stood on a platform and chastised the President for saying we needed more teachers. He said, "We don't need more teachers. We don't need more government." So, yes, I'm-- I'm saying that he was dishonest. Yes, I am.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Would you go so far as to say he lied?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, I'm not-- I'm- I'm saying that he was dishonest in his answers. You can characterize that any way you want.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You know why didn't the President bring up the famous forty-seven-percent video tape?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, I mean, the President, obviously, didn't see the-- the appropriate opportunity. I mean I think the President was earnestly trying to answer questions that were asked on-- on-- on the topics that were being discussed. And he didn't find the opportunity to raise it. And it's obviously well known. We-- we've been discussing it for a long time. I think all of America knows about that, so--
BOB SCHIEFFER: I-- I bring that up because the very next night when he was on Fox, Romney himself brought it up--
DAVID AXELROD (overlapping): Yes, I saw it.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --or at least talked about it. Here's-- here's what he said.
MITT ROMNEY: In a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that-- that doesn't come out right. In this case I said something that's just completely wrong.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So he said some-- what does that mean?
DAVID AXELROD: That was astonishing for a whole number of reasons. The first was three weeks ago he was asked the same question and he stood by the essence of what he said. But when you look at that tape that was behind closed doors, it wasn't just a comment. It wasn't just a word. It was a whole exposition. It was an essay on how forty-seven percent of the country were shiftless, people wouldn't take personal responsibility for themselves and so on. I mean he slandered half the country to say, whoops, I-- I-- I misspoke, is-- is a little unconvincing. You know as I watched that tape and as I watched the debate, it-- it reminded me of the old George Burns-- St. George Burns said, "All you need to succeed in show business is sincerity and if you can fake that, you've got it made." And that's essentially what Governor Romney has been about this-- this whole week.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Norah.
NORAH O'DONNELL: So, when you say that he was dishonest and you went through those series of things where you think that Mitt Romney was dishonest, why didn't the President make that point in the debate?
DAVID AXELROD: Well, the President--as I said, Norah--the President was there to answer questions that were asked and to discuss the future of the country as he saw it. But, look, I also-- I-- I will be honest with you. I think he was a little taken aback at the-- at the-- the brazenness with which Governor Romney walked away from so many of the positions on which he's run, walked away from his record. And, you know, that's something we're going to have to make an adjustment for-- in these subsequent debates.
NORAH O'DONNELL: So, you admit you were surprised by that that the President was surprised by that. So, what will he need do it differently, do you think?
DAVID AXELROD (overlapping): I think anybody-- anybody would be and it takes a certain--as President Clinton would say--takes a certain brass to do what Governor Romney did there. And it's consistent, you know, when you-- this was what he used to do in private business. I mean he was the closer at Bain Capital, and the basic theory is say whatever you need to to get the deal and that's what he did that-- that-- that night.
JOHN DICKERSON: And Romney says it- that wasn't the case. The- the President just didn't do his homework.
DAVID AXELROD: Well, the President did plenty-- plenty of home work. The-- the difference is that Governor Romney went to give a performance. He gave a good performance. Homework entails internalizing facts. Governor Romney was about the business of distorting them, and-- and ignoring them.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the facts and that's on the taxes question. You say that-- that Governor Romney wasn't truthful. But was that-- you know he-- he's making a promise. He's saying we're going to give-- have twenty-percent tax reductions and we're going to make that up with loophole closures. You may say that's unrealistic but it's not.
DAVID AXELROD: Now John-- John-- John, he said twenty percent personal income tax deductions. Earlier in the year he said for upper income people as well as everyone else. He's changed that now. He said thirty percent tax cut on corporate taxes and he has a series of other tax cuts that he has promised that add up to 4.8 trillion dollars. He cannot name one loophole that he would close. If you took away all the loopholes for upper-income Americans, every single one of them, he would still be trillions of dollars short. He either has to sock it to the middle class or he's going to explode the deficits. And that's why he wants to walk away from the whole thing.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, what you're saying is it's unrealistic so for when-- when Senator Obama in 2000--
DAVID AXELROD: I'm saying it's impossible, not unrealistic.
JOHN DICKERSON: But when Senator Obama in 2008 said I am going to cut the deficit in half, I'm going to close Gitmo, a lot of people said-- those are unrealistic but they didn't say he wasn't telling the truth. There is a difference, isn't there?
DAVID AXELROD: No. There isn't-- the difference is that closing Gitmo was involved an active Congress and he wasn't able to get Congress to agree with him on that question. This is basic math. There are only so many deductions, you can-- you can close them all for upper income people-- people above two hundred thousand dollars. And you still have trillions of dollars hole, and he hasn't even named the deductions that he would close. This is a shell game, John. It's a shell game in whichever shell you pick up, the middle class loses, the economy will lose, and I think that this is going to catch up with him.