CyberAlert -- 06/25/1996 -- Familes First Free Ride

Familes First Free Ride

One topic today: Families First vs. Contract with America.
Below are transcripts of two stories:

1) The Sunday, June 23 NBC Nightly News story on the Democratic answer to the Contract with America.

2) A transcript of the story run on NBC Nightly News on September 27, 1994, the day the GOP unveiled their Contract with America.

While NBC's story on the Democrats was hardly filled with praise, other than a mild criticism that it lacked specifics, it was absent explicit attacks on Democratic policies or premises. In 1994 NBC offered five specific condemnations, such as saying "it is long on promises but short on sound premises" and asserting that "an independent budget expert called it standard political bunk." This contrast is an excellent illustration of bias -- Democrats get a walk while Republicans are held to a higher level of scrutiny with their assumptions questioned.


June 23, 1996 NBC Nightly News as transcribed by MRC intern Andrea Wilson:
Anchor Ann Curry: "A new election year rallying cry today from congressional Democrats. It's called Families First. NBC's Joe Johns has this story."
Joe Johns: "Carefully scripted right down to the questions and answers, congressional Democrats from around the country unveiled their election year agenda, asking voters to return them to power."
[Dick Gephardt, House Democratic Leader: "The bottom line is that the Democrats are asking for another chance to lead. Our soul and central mission would be to help the working families caught in today's middle class squeeze."]
Johns: "With the Democratic congressional leadership holding forth from an old meeting hall in Fairfax, Virginia and their colleagues on two way hook-up in Sacramento, Houston, Des Moines, and Dearborn, Michigan, they were hoping to generate a blast of TV exposure. The plan they unveiled was short on specifics, but addresses a broad range of issues such as women's wages, protecting pensions, tax breaks for education, and special health plans for kids. Democrats hope saying what they want to do will give them needed political cover for saying no to many Republican proposals over the last two years."
[Tom Daschle, Senate Democratic Leader: "We've been proud that we've been able to stop some of the most extreme proposals the far right has tried to push through this Congress. But you know, it's not enough to just to say no."]
Johns: "By unveiling their agenda in a multi-location, electronic town hall format, Democrats are trying to go the GOP one better. It was almost two years ago that congressional Republicans unveiled their Contract with America. The Contract was their attempt to set a national agenda in the 1994 congressional elections and one key Republican says the Democrat's Family First Agenda announced today is a far cry from the GOP's Contract."
[Bill Paxon, National Republican Congressional Cmte.: "There's no reason to believe today is anything more than an attempt to mask what the real agenda is and that is to take the country to the left."]
Johns: "One undisputed motive is to get more Democrats elected to Congress. Some who are challenging seats now held by Republicans were featured prominently in today's show. Joe Johns, NBC News, Washington."


September 27, 1994 NBC Nightly News:
Tom Brokaw: "Here in Washington, fear, loathing, anticipation and among Republicans, unrestrained glee about the November elections. Democrats are bracing for the worst. Republicans, now, are beginning to talk openly about taking control of the House and the Senate. 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 but short on sound premises."
Lisa Myers: "It was a political extravaganza. More than 350 Republican members of Congress and candidates on the Capitol steps bearing flags and promising tax cuts. In trying to convince voters this was not just another campaign stunt, Republicans called their promises a contract."
[Rep. Dick Armey, (R-Texas): "Today, we Republicans are singing a Contract with America. We pledge ourselves in writing to a new agenda of reform, respect, and renewal."]
Myers: "Their agenda: tax cuts for just about everyone; Seniors, business, families with children, even new 'American Dream' savings accounts for the middle class. Also promised: more money for defense and a balanced budget amendment. An independent budget expert called it standard political bunk."
[Carol Cox Wait, Budget Analyst: "It doesn't add up because nobody wants to hear the truth. Everybody wants to talk about benefits, and nobody wants to talk about cost."]
Myers: "Democrats called the contract a big fraud."
[Rep. Bob Wise (D-West Va.): "If you liked Reagan's supply-side economics you will love this riverboat gamble."]
Myers: "Republicans did list a few possible spending cuts. But they fell hundreds of billions of dollars short of balancing the budget. In their contract, the Republicans also promised votes in the first 100 days on welfare reform and term limits, to require members of Congress to retire after 12 years. Republican leader Newt Gingrich already has served 16 years."
[Rep. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.): "And they're for term limits? Do they think America has forgotten how to count? Honestly.]
Myers: "What's more, Gingrich said any term limit bill probably will apply only to future members of Congress."
[Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia): "I don't think you're going to say to everybody who's been here 12 years, 'You know, this is your last term, don't run again.'"]
Myers: "And politicians wonder why voters are cynical. Lisa Myers, NBC News, the Capitol."

As you may have heard, we had some tornados in the DC area late this afternoon. When I got home tonight I found many trees down and the power out, but fortunately thanks to modern technology, I've been able to put this together on my battery-powered notebook computer, though I'd rather be watching Letterman

-- Brent Baker