Fox News’s GOP debate last month generated blockbuster ratings — 24 million viewers saw Donald Trump and the other top Republican presidential contenders mix it up, making it the most-watched non-sports cable show ever. Now Fox News rival CNN is poised to cash in on that success.
The news network is asking advertisers to pay 40 times its usual rate, or as much as $200,000 for a 30-second commercial, during the second GOP debate, which it is scheduled to host on Sept. 16, according to Ad Age. CNN is also charging $50,000 to $60,000 for commercials airing that day in the earlier debate between second-tier candidates.
Ad Age says CNN isn’t expected to pull in quite the same level of viewership as Fox News did, but even if the next primetime debate fails to match the earlier numbers, it is still likely to be the most-watched debate CNN has ever aired. The network can thank Trump for that, just as it could thank another outspoken and unpredictable GOP phenomenon for helping to set its previous debate record: In 2008, almost 11 million viewers tuned in to the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and — you betcha! — Sarah Palin.
If the Palin example holds, news networks aren’t going to be the only ones to benefit from the Trump surge. “Saturday Night Live” saw its viewership and buzz soar in 2008 as Tina Fey’s impersonation of Palin became a sensation in its own right. And when the former Alaska governor appeared on SNL in October 2008, the show drew its highest ratings in 14 years.
The new season of SNL starts Oct. 3, so it’s probably a safe bet that Lorne Michaels — and other executives at NBC, even after the network dumped Trump from The Celebrity Apprentice in the wake of his comments about Mexican immigrants — are rooting for Trump mania to keep going for another month, at least. In the meantime, NBC announced Tuesday that Trump will appear on “The Tonight Show” next week.
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Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers made his distaste for the Trump administration’s tax framework clear last week when he said Republicans were using “made-up” claims about the plan and its effects. Summers expanded his criticism on Tuesday in a blog post that took aim at the report released Monday by the Council of Economic Advisers and chair Kevin Hassett, which seeks to justify the administration’s claim that its tax plan will result in a $4,000 pay raise for the average American family.
Never one to mince words, Summers says the CEA analysis is “some combination of dishonest, incompetent and absurd.” The pay raise figure is indefensible, since “there is no peer-reviewed support for his central claim that cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent would raise wages by $4000 per worker.” In the end, Summers says that “if a Ph.D student submitted the CEA analysis as a term paper in public finance, I would be hard pressed to give it a passing grade.”
One of the authors cited in the CEA paper also has some concerns. Harvard Business School professor Mihir Desai tweeted Tuesday that the CEA analysis “misinterprets” a 2007 paper he co-wrote on the dynamics of the corporate tax burden. Desai’s research has found a connection between business tax cuts and wage growth, but not as large as the CEA paper claims. “Cutting corporate taxes will help wages but exaggeration only serves to undercut the reasonableness of the core argument,” Desai wrote.
National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said Monday that tax reform has to happen this year, even if it means Congress has to stay in session longer. "I think we have a unique window in time right now, but unfortunately we keep losing days to this window,” he said. “The opportunity is now." House Speaker Paul Ryan said last week he’d keep members over Christmas if that’s what it takes. And Ryan predicted Monday that tax reform would pass the House by early next month and then get through the Senate to reach the president’s desk by the end of the year. But there are plenty of skeptics out there, given the hurdles. Issac Boltansky, an analyst at the investment bank Compass Point, told Business Insider, "The idea of getting tax reform done this year is a farcical fantasy. Lawmakers have neither the time nor the capacity to formulate and clear a tax reform package in 2017."
Passing a budget resolution for 2018 through the Senate will open a procedural door to a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years. The resolution is expected to reach the Senate floor this week, although there are questions about whether Republicans have the 50 votes they need to pass it. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) said this weekend that she would vote for it and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is likely a “yes” as well, but Sen. Rand Paul (R-TN) is reportedly a likely “no” and John McCain (R-AZ) appears questionable. Now it looks like Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MI) won't be back in Washington this week to vote on the resolution due to health problems. The Hill says Cochran’s absence puts tax reform “on knife’s edge.”