- Schumer, Norquist Spar Over Taxes
- Toomey: Reconfiguring of Automatic Cuts Important
- Political Battle Lines Being Drawn—Again
- Kyl: Diplomacy Needed in Pakistan Incident
- Cain Goes on the Defensive
- Huntsman Deflects Effect Newspaper Endorsement of Gingrich Will Have in N.H.
11:35. Schumer, Norquist Spar Over Taxes
Sen. Chuck Schumer pressed Republicans Sunday to join with Democrats in the Senate to extend the soon-to-expire cut in the payroll tax, contending that “they have spent so much time fighting to preserve the bush tax cuts for the millionaires, it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t want to preserve a tax cut for the middle class.” Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Schumer gently sparred with Republican activist Grover Norquist, tweaking the anti-tax crusader for his failure to champion extension of the payroll tax holiday.
Norquist, appearing later on the same show, said he is “not opposed” to the extension. But he attacked as “destructive” the Democratic plans to pay for the tax cut by raising taxes on the rich.
Schumer called it “essential” to add what he called “a small surtax on incomes over $1 million.” He stopped short of predicting that Democrats will succeed at this when Congress returns to Washington this week. But he said, “We’re going to keep at it and at it and at it, because it’s so important for the economy.” Asked if it will pass, he was cautious. “I would hope we would pass it,” he said. But, he added, “We would be open to other ideas of paying for it if this one fails.”
The debate over the tax extension also played out on Fox News Sunday. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said on the show that he opposes extending the tax reduction, while Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the Republican position “defies logic.”
With some Democrats decrying the influence Norquist had over the Republicans on the supercommittee’s failed search for a deficit deal, host Chris Wallace asked Kyl if it was true if Norquist called him and said get back in line when he seemed to be flirting with some revenue increases as part of a deal with Democrats. Kyl said, absolutely not. He said Republicans were willing to back a plan put forth by Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey that would have raised some tax revenues even though Norquist was displeased with it.
“Grover was not happy about that but we did it anyway,” Kyl said. Over on Meet the Press, Norquist quibbled with calling the super committee a failure because, he noted, there will still be spending cuts when the mandated sequester kicks in. “Because they couldn’t come up with a list, it goes to a sequester. That’s not a failure.”
—George Condon Jr.
11:11. Toomey: Reconfiguring of Automatic Cuts Important
President Obama's warning that he would veto attempts to undo $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts were vaguer than they seemed, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said on Sunday, implying that Congress might reconfigure the cuts before they take effect.
"I don't recall him having a categorical veto threat," Toomey, whio served on the super committee, said. In a news conference last week, Obama said, "I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending.”
Toomey, speaking on ABC's This Week, said that the cuts, half of which would affect the Pentagon, would hurt the country's ability to defend itself.
"I think there's a broad consensus that too much of the cuts are weighted on our defense's capabilities. And it would cut in deeply our ability to defend this nation. So, I think it's important that we change the configuration," he said.
10:38. Political Battle Lines Being Drawn—Again
With lawmakers appearing on televions Sunday, the political disagreements that plagued the super committee and helped lead to its failure seemed poised to boil over into congressional debate over over the so-called payroll tax cut, which expires at the end of the year.
During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., sparred over whether Congress should extend the payroll tax cut, with Kyl arguing that the cut could affect Social Security and has not helped with the No. 1 economic concern, which is creating jobs.
"You can't keep extending the payroll tax holiday and have a secure social security; that's the first problem. The second problem is that by taxing the people who provide the jobs we put off the day that we have economic recovery," Kyl said.
Durbin argued that the cut puts money in Americans' pockets and is worth keeping.
"At a time when working families in this country are struggling paycheck to paycheck when we need them to have the resources to buy things in our economy to create wealth and profitibabilty and more jobs that the Republican position is they'll raise the payroll tax on working families?" Durbin asked.
9:56. Kyl: Diplomacy Needed in Pakistan Incident
The U.S. response to Pakistan's cutting off NATO supply routes into Afghanistan will require a diplomatic response, two senators suggested on Sunday.
"There is a lot of diplomacy that has to occur and they need to understand that our support for them financially is dependent on their cooperation with us," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said on Fox News Sunday. Pakistan cut off NATO access to suppy routes after two dozen Pakistani troops were killed over the weekend. Pakistan says NATO aircraft were responsible for the troops' deaths, The New York Times reported, and in addition to closing off suplly routes, Pakistan reportedly closed air bases from which the U.S. launches drone attacks in that country.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., echoing a joint statement from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, offered condolences to Pakistanis on the loss of the troops, but also suggested that the incident could aggrevate tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan.
"Keep in mind that as difficult as it is to find our way through this diplomatic morass between the incompetence and corruption in Afghanistan and complicity in parts of Pakistan our soliders are caught right in the middle of this at a time when they're trying to bring peace to this region," Durbin said on Sunday.
9:52. Cain Goes on the Defensive
A defensive Herman Cain tried to right his faltering presidential campaign Sunday but struggled to explain some of his past statements and was on the defensive in an appearance on State of the Union on CNN. Five times in the brief appearance, Cain insisted that he has been “real clear” about his positions, including on abortion, immigration and what he calls “targeted identification” of airline travelers. But host Candy Crowley at one point confessed “I think I’m a little confused but we want to move on.”
Cain was introduced on the show with new polling showing he has dropped to third place in the Republican race. Crowley’s first question set the tone for the interview: “What do you think has gone wrong in the last month or so?”
Cain cast himself as a victim, explaining that “false accusations and confusion about some of my positions” are to blame. He added, “In terms of the campaign itself, nothing has gone wrong in terms of our strategy... So in terms of the mechanics of the campaign, nothing’s gone wrong.”
He said he was “taken out of context” when he told CNN’s Piers Morgan in October that abortion “ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president. Not some politician. Not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family, and whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t try to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive decision.” On Sunday, he said another part of that interview reflects his real position when he said abortion should be legal “under no circumstances.” He told Crowley, “I am pro-life from conception, period.”
On immigration, he tried to separate himself from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who called for a “humane” immigration policy in the last GOP debate. His policy, he said, “has been real clear.” And it includes letting individual states decide what to do with illegal immigrants. “Empower the states to deal with the illegals that are already there. Not some big grandiose, national, one-size-fits-all,” he said. When Crowley asked if that would allow states to put illegals “on a path toward legalization”, Cain said it “would be up to the states as long as they did not break the federal law.” But then seconds later he insisted he was not saying states could legalize the immigrants.
He was also asked to explain his call in the recent debate for the federal government to use “targeted identification” to root out airborne terrorists. “If you take a look at the people who have tried to kill us, it would be easy to figure out exactly what that identification profile looks like,” he said. But he insisted this is not profiling. He struggled to explain the difference. “If we go to the intelligence agencies and ask them to identify the people that have tried to hurt us, kill us, blow up our planes and things of this nature, they could do that,” he said. When Crowley persisted, he said, “You are trying to pull me into the rhetoric that gets people in trouble and what I’m trying to do is not be drawn into that. No. I am not trying to identify a particular religion, a particular color, a particular ethnicity.”
On other issues, Cain said he “could support” President Obama’s call for extending the payroll tax cut, though he called it “a thimble of water in the ocean.” But he opposed extending long-term unemployment compensation when it expires. “We’re spending money we do not have,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that people are unemployed.”
—George Condon Jr.
9:07. Huntsman: Newspaper's Backing of Gingrich Shows Race's Fluidiity
Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman deflected the New Hampshire Union-Leader's endorsement of Newt Gingrich as a sign of the "fluidity" of the Republican presidential primary campaign.
"It reflects more than anything the fluidity, the unpredictability of the race right now. We're in a solid position. You've got to have a message that resonates with the voters here," Huntsman said on Fox News Sunday.
The Gingrich endorsement is bruising for the Huntsman campaign, which has made winning New Hampshire the centerpiece of its campaign strategy.
Huntsman, rather than attack Gingrich, used the television interview to underline his differences with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has take criticism for changing his positions on key issues.
"I'm pro-life and I always have been. I'm pro-second amendment and I always have been," Huntsman said.