Monday Morning Catch-up: News You May Have Missed

Monday Morning Catch-up: News You May Have Missed


Top Story/Election 2012

A Des Moines Register poll of Republicans likely to participate in the Iowa caucuses shows former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leading the pack of contenders for the GOP Presidential nomination with 23%. But hard on his heels with 22% is Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, who is only officially announcing her candidacy today.

The poll was cited by Chris Wallace on Fox Sunday before he hit Bachmann with some tough questions. Wallace asked about a Los Angeles Times story that said Bachmann, the Tea Party darling, had benefited from state and federal programs.

“A counseling clinic run by your husband got almost $30,000 in state federal funds,” Wallace said. “A farm, in which you are a partner, got almost $260,000 in federal subsidies. And over the years, you sought more than $60 million in state earmarks and more than $3.7 million in federal earmarks. That's a fiscal hawk?”

“First of all,” Bachmann said, “the money that went to the clinic was actually training money for employees. The clinic did not get the money. And my husband and I did not get the money either. …The farm is my father-in-law's farm. …And my husband and I have never gotten a penny of money from the farm. Regarding the earmarks, I believe the right place to build projects is in the states and the states have to build roads and bridges. And I don't apologize for building roads and bridges.”

“So, you're pro-earmark?” Wallace asked.

“No.” Bachmann answered. “During my first term in Congress, I signed a pledge that I will take no more earmarks and I've been faithful to that pledge.”

Backmann also said that while she supports the right of New York to pass a law permitting gay marriage, as it did last Friday, she would back a constitutional amendment that overrides it.

Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation, which also featured an interview with Bachmann, was even tougher.

“PolitiFact, which is a website that won a Pulitzer, did an analysis of twenty-three statements that you made recently,” Schieffer said to Bachmann. “Of these twenty-three, only one they said was completely true. Seven they call pants on fire kind of falsehoods. Four were barely true and two were half-truths. How do you answer that criticism? Because here’s one of them: You said on the record there had been only one offshore oil drilling permit during the Obama administration and, in fact, at that time they had been two hundred and seventy. How do you explain that?”

“You know, I think that what is clear more than anything is the fact that President Obama has not been issuing the permits that he should have been issuing on offshore drilling,” Bachmann said.

“Well, it’s more than three hundred now,” Schieffer said. …Just quickly though, the-- the original question I asked you is [about] all of these statements that you have made that have later proven to be sort of true or totally false in some cases…. Do you feel you have misled people?

“No, I haven’t misled people at all,” Bachmann said. “I think the question [should] be asked of President Obama. When [he] told the American people that if we borrow a trillion dollars from other countries and spend it on a stimulus…unemployment won’t go above eight percent and today as we are sitting here it’s 9.1 percent and the economy is tanking. That is what’s serious. …Did he mislead the American people?”

On both shows, Bachmann attributed part her sudden surge of support among Iowa Republicans to the fact that she was born in the state. And that may be more than a self-effacing appraisal. In an Economist/YouGov national poll of Republicans conducted June 11-14, Bachman ranked fifth—tied with libertarian hero Representative Ron Paul of Texas and pizza king Herman Cain. Ahead of her were Romney and so far undeclared candidates former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

But of all the GOP candidates and possible candidates in the Economist/YouGov poll, the clear favorite was former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who bested Romney by six percentage points.

On CNN’s State of the Union, Candy Crowley asked Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, one of the Big Kahunas of the Tea Party, about the “Cap, Cut and Balance” pledge supported by 40 conservative groups. DeMint wants every GOP Presidential candidate to promise not to support an increase in the debt ceiling without substantive spending cuts, to support enforceable caps on spending, and to back a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

“[Jon Huntsman] was asked about this pledge and he said, you know, the only pledge I really do is the pledge of allegiance.” DeMint said. “Yeah. Well, I won't support any candidate who does not support balancing the budget.”

“So Huntsman's out?” Crowley asked.

”For me, he's out,” DeMint said.

Debt Ceiling
With the collapse of debt-ceiling talks late last week after House Speaker Eric Cantor walked out on the Group of Seven meetings led by Vice-President Joe Biden, President Obama will personally step into the fray today. He is scheduled to meet with Biden and Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid this morning and then have a one-on-one session with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the early evening.

“Are you willing…to talk about any kind of revenue raising?” Christiane Amanapour asked McConnell on ABC’s This Week. “For instance, [cutting] ethanol subsidies [and] tax breaks for oil and gas corporations or corporate jets. Is there anywhere that revenue raising can happen without you saying it's a tax hike?”

“I think we've gotten to the point where we ought to put aside our talking points and get down to what can actually pass,” McConnell said. “…The whole business of raising taxes, regardless of how you go about it, is something that this Congress is not likely to do.”

House Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyman, Democrat of South Carolina, who was part of the Biden-led negotiating group, later told Amanapour: “The question is, how do you define a tax increase? And I don't know of anybody who will define a tax increase as closing the loophole. If you tell me that my tax rate is going to be 30 or 35 percent and I come up with all kind of gimmicks with pretty smart lawyers and only pay 9 percent, there's something wrong with the loopholes in the law. We want to close those loopholes up. We do not want to raise anybody's tax rates. That's never been on the table.”

“Why shouldn't we just look at this and say it is another giant game of chicken by our legislators?” Candy Crowley asked Senator Jim DeMint on State of the Union.

 “We've got more revenue than we ever have. We're spending more than we ever have. We don't have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem,” DeMint said. “The government is doing things that we can't do well. We're wasting billions of dollars.”

Michelle Bachmann told Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation: “It isn’t true that the government would default on its debt [if the debt ceiling isn’t raised] because very simply the Treasury Secretary can pay the interest on the debt first and then from there we have to just prioritize our spending. I have no intention of voting to raise the debt ceiling because right now the federal government continues to spend more money than what it takes in.”

On Meet the Press, David Gregory talked with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who racked up a big victory last week by putting a lid on pension and health-care spending for public employees. Christie, a Republican who has says he is not a candidate for the 2012 Presidential nomination, managed to get what Gregory called “landmark cost-cutting legislation to close [New Jersey’s] massive budget gap” through the Democratic-controlled Assembly.
“We have an impasse here in Washington.  …What's the way out of this mess?” Gregory asked.

“What I found in New Jersey…was there is no substitute for the three leaders in the room having to look at each other and having to hash this out,” Christie said.  “And everybody's got to put skin in the game. …What both parties have been guilty of over time, is demagoguing each other, so then it makes it almost impossible for you to sit across the table and bargain….  Listen, you've read some of the things I've said over time.  I'm no wallflower, and I disagree strongly, bluntly.  But I'm not demagoguing people.  And I think that’s the difference in what we've done in New Jersey….  We've got to treat each other with some sense of fairness."