Pelley Prompts Obama to Explain Need for Higher Taxes, Warns Budget Cuts Could Hurt Economy

It wasn’t the embarrassing kiss-up debacle CBS’s Steve Kroft delivered a week ago from the White House, but CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, in his late afternoon pre-Super Bowl sit down with Barack Obama, hardly tackled the President.

He cued him up to elaborate on allowing women in combat and gays to take part in the Boy Scouts, in between prompting Obama to explain why tax revenue must be raised further and, instead of pressing Obama about the danger of ever-growing massive deficits, Pelley -- echoing Paul Krugman -- warned cuts could send the economy into a recession.

Audio: MP3 clip

After leading with a question about football safety, Pelley brought up taxes:

It was right here in this room two weeks ago today that you took the oath of office for the second time to begin your second term, so let me ask you about the next four years. You have just raised tax rates on families that make more than $450,000 a year and above. Are you through raising tax rates?

Obama responded by talking about closing loopholes, leading Pelley to push Obama to more definitively agree taxes must increased in some manner:

So, I’m not hearing you say “Read my lips, no new taxes.” You think there is going to have to be additional revenue over the next four years.

Obama agreed and Pelley moved on to wondering: “Do you have any hesitation as commander in chief ordering women into combat?” and: “Next week, the board of the Boy Scouts of America is going to vote on whether to end their national ban on gays in scouting. Should scouting be open to gays?”

For his final question, in the session which began at about 4:35 PM EST and lasted approximately ten minutes, Pelley fretted the sequester “cuts,” which really are just a reduction in the rate of increase and not really cuts at all, will cause another recession:

We found out last week that the economy actually shrank in the last three months of last year. If the federal spending cuts that are on tap for March actually take effect, will that push the country into recession?

-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.