CBS's Hill Argues Ryan is Out of Step with America for Opposing Tax Hikes

On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Erica Hill played up the "overwhelming majority" that apparently support raising taxes on the rich, and urged Rep. Paul Ryan to consider supporting such a tax hike: "68% of people support raising...taxes on incomes of $250,000 and higher. Is that something that you could, perhaps, at least have a conversation about?"

Co-anchor Charlie Rose also suggested that Ryan and congressional Republicans had refused to work with President Obama, and that the Democrat needed to try to bring them on board. Rose asked White House advisor David Plouffe, "What can the President say this evening that might bring Paul Ryan to work with him on issues that concern the country?"

Hill asked her slanted tax question near the end of the interview of the Wisconsin Republican, which aired 13 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour. She listed several polls that indicated that most Americans want tax hikes on the wealthy. Ryan replied by emphasizing the detrimental effect of raising taxes:

HILL: Another idea that's getting a lot of this idea to have the wealthy pay more in taxes. Now, when you look at how the American people feel about this, there's an overwhelming majority that are in favor of it. Polling from Bloomberg, the Washington Post, CBS, American Express, find the same things- most recently, 68% of people support raising income taxes- taxes on incomes of $250,000 and higher. Is that something that you could, perhaps, at least have a conversation about?

RYAN: Well, see, here's the issue, Erica. What people just don't realize, when they're given these poll questions, is most small businesses pay their taxes as individuals. Eight out of ten American businesses file as individuals- mine out of ten from Wisconsin. And so, what that ends up doing is it raises tax rates on successful small businesses. They can go as high as 45% in a year from now. And the problem, Erica, is these tax increases that the President's talking about- the money doesn't go to reduce the deficit. It only covers 8% of the President's proposed spending spree. The other 92% of the President's spending is on borrowed money. So we're not even talking about closing a fiscal gap. We're talking about taxing and spending, and taxing successful small businesses more.

On November 21, 2011, the CBS anchor similarly lobbied Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist to use his influence and push for tax hikes: "There's still not a lot getting done in Washington, even with some of the compromise. So why not push those people [in Congress] to maybe do a little bit more?"

Earlier, Rose began the Ryan interview by referencing the question he asked Plouffe in the previous segment: "Do you expect that there is a willingness, on the part of Republicans, to listen carefully and see if the President, in wanting to reform taxes, wanting to consider investments in the future, might be common ground?"

Ryan answered by attacking the President's record:

RYAN: Well, I heard what he said, and it sounds like we're going to get more of the same, Charlie....It's going to be a very political speech....We've heard the same kind of rhetoric before, and look at the kind of results we're getting. So it sounds to me like it's going to be more of a spending wish list, more borrowing, more spending, and tax increases, which, really disproportionately, hit successful small businesses- manufacturers. If we're for more American energy and more manufacturing, then why is he opposing the Keystone pipeline? Why is he proposing these new tax increases on manufacturers? So, again, the rhetoric just doesn't quite meet the substance, and that's our concern. I don't think the President can run on his record.

Midway through his segment with Plouffe, the new CBS anchor tossed a softball at the Obama advisor regarding a potential Republican opponent in the general election: "One issue will be tax reform, and as you know, fairness has been a theme that the President has articulated in Kansas. Is an effective 14 or 15% tax rate, that Mitt Romney has said he paid, your judgment of what is fair?"

Rose, however, included a famous presidential campaign slogan from the 1980s in a tougher follow-up question. At the same time, an on-screen graphic trumpeted a recent CBS News/New York Times poll that found that 60% of Americans think that President Obama hasn't "made real progress [in] fixing the economy." In reply, Plouffe regurgitated the liberal talking point that the economic problems are the fault of the previous administration of former President George W. Bush:

ROSE: As you know, Ronald Reagan once made famous this notion, are you better off four years ago- are you better off than you were four years ago, which is a question many Americans might want to ask now. When you look at what's happened, can the American people look at four years of the Obama administration and say, we're better off and we're prepared to have this election, a referendum on President Obama's performance, rather than a referendum on our promises that we're making in the State of the Union?

[CBS News Graphic: "CBS News/New York Times Poll: Has President Obama Made Real Progress Fixing The Economy? No, 60%; Yes, 35%; Margin Of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]

PLOUFFE: Well, listen, we're happy to have this referendum on what we've done. Let's- remember, we were in something that rivalled the Great Depression, and that wasn't just an accident. There were policies that caused it. So do you want to go back to those policies? Do you want to let Wall Street write its own rules, have your entire tax and economic policies skewed toward the wealthy and somehow, hope, magically, that trickles down? There were policies that caused it, and people don't want to go back to that. So the question is, do we want to continue to make the progress we've seen?

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.