Notable Quotables - 10/10/1994


Contract with America: Republican Sucker Bait

"Today, GOP congressional candidates were summoned to Washington and given a battle plan. However, as NBC's Lisa Myers tells us tonight, it is long on promises and short on sound premises."
- NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, September 27.

"A cheap-trick wish list written by Republican members of the House."
- U.S. News & World Report Co-Editor Michael Ruby, October 3.

"The ploy would be a political coup, except for one problem: Gingrich's list is just a collection of GOP golden oldies that pander to the public's desire to get something for nothing - the balanced budget amendment, a middle-class tax cut, a capital gains tax cut, term limits, the repeal of some Social Security taxes along with the marriage penalty and tough welfare reform... Small wonder that Senate Republicans, who recognize that leadership occasionally requires taking responsibility, have decided to pass up this contract."
- U.S. News & World Report Assistant Managing Editor Gloria Borger, October 3.

"The Republicans have no shame at all. Bob Dole, for example, bailed out the Reagan administration in 1982 by restoring a lot of the tax money that had been lopped off. We'd probably have a five-times-higher deficit otherwise, and this `Contract with America' is nothing but gimmicks and silly stuff, and nobody can govern with it."
- National Public Radio reporter Nina Totenberg on Inside Washington, October 1.

"What this contract says is you can have hot fudge sundae for every meal and still lose weight. It's a fraud and there's a whole lot of Republicans who already are starting to forget where they were September 27."
- Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang, October 1.


Fantastic First Family

"In less than two years, Bill Clinton had already achieved more domestically than John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush combined. Although Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan often had their way with Congress, Congressional Quarterly says it's Clinton who has had the most legislative success of any President since Lyndon Johnson. Inhale that one...The standard for measuring results domestically should not be the coherence of the process but how actual lives are touched and changed. By that standard, he's doing well."
- Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter, October 3.

"Hillary Clinton, like Eleanor Roosevelt, had already done a great service. Unlike Barbara Bush, she got involved. She has taken stands. She has been a leader. It's too bad, of course, that there is not health care legislation this year, but that is Congress's failure, not Hillary Clinton's. Her role has been a success. She awakened the nation. She educated the nation. She enlightened the nation....For when a nation gets two leaders for the price of one - a Franklin and Eleanor, a Bill and Hillary - it can tackle twice as many problems, find twice as many solutions, make twice as much progress."
- Former NBC News President Michael Gartner in his USA Today column, September 27.


Ollie North! No Stars!

"[The movie Quiz Show's] arrival has already provoked a favorite American question: when did we as a nation lose our innocence? It's an absurd question, of course, that assumes a homogeneous 'we.' (Ask a Native American that, and you'll get a very early citing)...Neck high in '90s cynicism, it's hard to believe the tremors these scandals provoked. What's a vicuna coat next to Iran-Contra? Except by then the country was so blase about governmental deception it could barely rouse itself to outrage. In the '50s, Ingrid Bergman was blacklisted from Hollywood for having a baby out of wedlock. Today, Oliver North makes hash of the Constitution and it jump-starts his political career."
- Newsweek's David Ansen, September 19.


More Disastrous Reaganomics

"The temptation to be really snide and sarcastic about the `Contract with America' that House Republicans unveiled last week is almost unbearable. Here's what they want us to believe: They can cut taxes, 'restore' defense spending, and balance the federal budget in eight years...Seems to me that's what the public was told by candidate Ronald Reagan and his advisers in 1980 - back when the federal debt was $900 billion. Look what's happened since. The federal debt's now $4.5 trillion and heading higher."
- Commentary by USA Today reporter Mark Memmott, October 3.

"Why are the Republicans, who generated so many new ideas a decade ago, suddenly reaching backward on economic issues? One possible answer, analysts say, is that the GOP is, in effect, hoping to bribe the electorate - by appealing so directly to the public's interest in lower taxes that other issues, such as the nation's fiscal solvency, fall away....GOP critics say another possibility is that the chief architects of the House compact... are betting that voters have short memories. They may assume that few will recall - let alone care - that the Reagan experiment with supply-side economics quadrupled the federal deficit and left average Americans saddled with higher taxes."
- Washington Post reporter Clay Chandler, October 2.

"The problem is that the contract's main idea has already been tried and discredited. House Republicans are now pledged to tax cuts, increased defense spending, and a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. Sound familiar? `This was a dopey political move,' [Rep. Fred] Grandy says. `We were holding the high ground on welfare, foreign policy, so why would we go back and shoosh down the Laffer Curve? This is like giving the Democrats a nuclear weapon.'"
- Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter, Oct. 10.

"There's no question it was the Reagan tax cuts that led to the deficit."
- CBS Washington Bureau Chief Barbara Cochran on C-SPAN's Journalists Roundtable, September 23.

Reality Check:
"Since 1980, aggregate federal tax revenues have grown 111 percent. Had revenues grown at the rate of inflation, the government would have collected $225 billion fewer dollars in 1992. Congress spent the additional money, and then some....The Republican record 1980-92: Social welfare spending rose 44 percent. Defense spending rose 30 percent."
- From The Right Data, by Ed Rubenstein.


The Latest Ted Commandments

"I'm happily going to the Russian embassy tonight, you know. Yeltsin's in town. He's the one that's proposing let's cut back on nuclear weapons. Why don't we get rid of nuclear weapons? Instead of telling North Korea that they can't have nuclear weapons or we'll come bomb them if they make them - what a dumb thing. We the big, rich guys can have them but they can't. That is a double standard that just doesn't cut it."
- CNN owner Ted Turner at the National Press Club, September 27, shown by C-SPAN.

"I know we talk a lot about human rights in the United States, but other countries could hit the ball right back across the net and say to us and say `Well, what about the right to have a home?' We have a large homelessness problem in the United States. Other countries don't have as large a problem."
- Turner to the PAN Asia cable and satellite conference, quoted in The Boston Globe, October 2.


Marilyn Quayle: Self-Righteous Divider of People

"In the Republican convention of '92, the message was not inclusive, it was exclusive. It wasn't a unifying idea, it was a wedge idea, it was dividing people, it was much more self- righteous. When Marilyn Quayle got up and said, basically condemned women who out to work, you know, I had the picture sitting there in the hall and thinking, all of these women sitting there about to go to work in their beauty parlors and their offices saying, `Thanks a whole lot, Marilyn, if I were married to, you know, an heir of a newspaper fortune, I'd like to stay home too, but I can't afford to, I've got to go out and work.'"
- U.S. News & World Report Senior Writer Steven Roberts during September 7 panel discussion carried by C-SPAN.


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