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Club for Growth Says Republicans Against Bush Tax Cut Fail to Support Party

Aired April 30, 2003 - 16:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE, Republican versus Republican, over money. This afternoon, one of the few GOP senators opposing his president faces off against the man running ads against his own party.

AD ANNOUNCER: America needs strong allies abroad and President Bush needs strong supporters in the Senate.

ANNOUNCER: Plus, the president is set to address the nation. We'll tell you why.

And guess who gets better TV ratings. The Dixie Chicks or the president?



ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, James Carville and Robert Novak.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE, or as we're going to call it today, the Republican edition of the "Family Feud." President Bush's idea of making the deficit even worse by giving his rich friends another big tax cut has split the party faithful. All of a sudden the Republicans are acting like Democrats and fighting among themselves.

In the CROSSFIRE from Capitol Hill, Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee of the great start Rhode Island who's broken ranks by voting for a smaller tax cut than the White House wants.

And with us here in the studio is Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth, the group running ads supporting the president's tax cut.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Senator Chafee, please tell me that you do not go along with this nonsense that you should be against the tax cut because it is such a tough road for the deficit.

For example, the tax cut next year, in this huge economy, would only lose one-tenth of one percent, not 1 percent, one-tenth of one percent of the gross domestic product, the whole economy. And after 10 years, in the year 2013, it would only be 0.3 of 1 percent. That's just trivial in this economy. That's not why you're against it, I hope.

SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE (R), RHODE ISLAND: Well, the big question is, of course, the preparing for the baby boomers retirement. And we know this demographic tidal wave is coming. And as we see our deficits coming back, we didn't have deficits, we were in surpluses and now we see these big, big deficits coming back.

And with the prospect of these baby boomers retiring and entering the Medicare system and the Social Security system, we're going to be totally unprepared if he let these deficits continue.

NOVAK: How do you explain that small percentage, though, that I just mentioned? It's in this huge economy -- it's just a -- an eye drop of it, isn't it?

CHAFEE: Well, why then did President Bush 41 and then President Clinton fight so hard to get the balanced budget? And why were the conservative Republicans actually going for a Constitutional amendment to balance the budget? Because we do care about these deficits.

CARVILLE: Mr. Moore, we'll show you part of an ad that you are running, your club is running, which you had against Senator Voinovich in Ohio. Senator Chafee, I want to point out, has exactly the same position as Senator Voinovich. Can we see it, please?


AD ANNOUNCER: ... bold job creating tax cuts to boost our economy. But some so-called Republicans like George Voinovich stand in the way.

America needs strong allies abroad and President Bush needs strong supporters in the Senate. Hey, George Voinovich, join President Bush's fight to cut taxes and fix the economy.


CARVILLE: Now you put the French flag in there, which is a big (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But I want you to just tell Senator Chafee you don't think he's a very good American. That's what you're saying on TV, why don't you say it to the man's face? He's sitting there. Tell him he's a traitor.

STEPHEN MOORE, CLUB FOR GROWTH: Look, Jim, we are not questioning -- we are not questioning the patriotism...

CARVILLE: He's from Rhode Island, he's not -- well sure you are. You put a French flag...


MOORE: What we are questioning is their economic judgment. I happen to think that Senator Chafee is wrong on this. I think George Voinovich is wrong.

You say this is a family feud. It isn't family feud. Ninety- five percent of the Republicans in the House and Senate are for the president's tax plan. They understand that we can do this tax cut and we can balance the budget if we get control of spending. Something, by the way that Lincoln Chafee has not been in favor of...


CARVILLE: ... talk about your TV spot.

MOORE: Right.

CARVILLE: Here's a man sitting right here. Tell him to his face what kind of American you think he is.

MOORE: Here's what I'll say to Lincoln Chafee. Senator, please get behind the president's plan. We need your vote. We need this because we need to create jobs. We need this because it's good for the Republican Party.

NOVAK: Do you have a response to that ad, Senator?

CHAFEE: Yes. First of all I'd like to say that Mr. Moore said that 95 percent of Republicans are behind the president on this. Don't forget, go back to the first tax cut of the spring of 2001. And even Denny Hastert and Tom DeLay and Chuck Grassley back then were expressing some hesitancy about supporting that big tax cut in the spring of -- check your records. Yes, they finally did vote for it.

MOORE: You were the only Republican in the Senate who voted against it.

CHAFEE: No, John McCain did, also. But we want to support the president, but we want to these things incrementally.

NOVAK: Senator Chafee, just following up on that. You find Democrats now, Congressman Gephardt running for president who wants a tax increase, and we have all of them against the cutting the top marginal rate. Don't you, as a Republican, feel a little bit uncomfortable in that company?

CHAFEE: Well, I tell you, as a Republican, I don't like hearing the Democrats, the Democrats talking about deficits. That used to be a Republican issue. And now the Democrats are talking about it.

And I don't like also to see the stopping of tax cuts that haven't been implemented, communicated as tax increases. I don't think that's accurate. If we delay or stop those parts of the tax cut that haven't yet been implemented whether it's 2004, 2006, 2008. It's not a tax increase.

CARVILLE: You know a fellow named Bruce Bartlett? Isn't he a fellow traveler of yours?

MOORE: Sure. CARVILLE: Let me show you -- and he was in the Reagan administration. Very intellectual in your circles.

MOORE: Sometimes he's right. Sometimes he's wrong.

CARVILLE: "Complaints about Bush leaving a crushing debt burden on our children are," quote, "`not correct,' Bruce Bartlett argued because our children can just pass the debt on to their kids who will pass it on to their kids, etc., etc., etc. `We'll simply pass it on forever,' he said."

Is that a good idea?

MOORE: No it isn't. The reason we have -- it isn't. The reason we have these big budget deficits is because we've got big spenders like Lincoln Chafee in the Senate who want to spend more and more and more money.


CARVILLE: President Clinton must have been the most fiscally responsible president in history. He had the largest budget surplus...


MOORE: Back in the mid-1990s when Newt Gingrich was in office, we had Republicans and Democrats...


NOVAK: Senator Chafee, I just want to pin down the correct definition of terms. Congressman Gephardt, who has a lot of praise and attention for his proposal, is proposing not merely a suspension of the future tax cuts, he wants to roll back a tax cut that is already taken place. Please admit that's a tax increase.

CHAFEE: Yes, I will. I will stand corrected on that. I didn't understand that that's what Mr. Gephardt was saying. I thought he was just stopping the implementation of the future years.

NOVAK: Now you'd say to the Republicans, Senator Chafee, used to be -- talk a lot about deficits and indeed they did. But when I was listening to them, the way they wanted to cure deficits was cutting spending.

now The spending has gone up much, much faster than any cuts in taxes. And you'll have to say that 10 years of Republican congresses have not controlled spending. Don't you think a lot could be done to control spending?

CHAFEE: Well we did look back at the increase in spending through the '90s because I've heard that alleged. And it wasn't that bad through the '90s. It was about inflation for many years. And of course the peace dividend was a big part of that, cutting back or keeping the increases in the military down. And that was a big aspect of that.

But if you look, that spending wasn't that much higher than inflation. I give the Democrats, but mostly the Republicans credit for that, the class of '94 that came in.

NOVAK: We're going to have to take a break because next it's off to the races with the fastest political segment in television. Don't place your bets yet. One of our guests thinks he knows who is going to win the Kentucky Derby Saturday, as well as the tax cut derby.

And later, who gets higher numbers. Those unpatriotic singers, the Dixie Chicks or the president of the United States? Find out in our "CROSSFIRE Political Alert."


CARVILLE: It's time for "Rapid Fire." It's a sharp track where we're going to go fast. Our guests Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who has background in horse racing and handicapping. And Stephen Moore the Club for Growth and the Cato Institute.

Take off, Robert.

NOVAK: Senator Chafee, are Americans taxed too much or too little.

CHAFEE: Too little. Right now we're rolling back these tax cuts and when I ran in the fall of 2000, not once, not once did I hear somebody come up to me and say, cut my taxes, because they liked the economy rolling along as it was in the '90s. I came into my election in 2000. I can say that with a straight face.

CARVILLE: How many times did they ask you to increase their taxes?

CHAFEE: Never. But we don't like the deficits.

CARVILLE: Mr. Moore, taxes cut do they increase revenue or decrease revenue.

MOORE: If they're done right they increase revenue, it happened in the '60s under Kennedy, and it happened in the '80s under Reagan and it's going to happen with this tax cut, when we cut the dividend taxes.

CARVILLE: So why do we need to cut spending?


NOVAK: How big do you want the government to be?

Senator Chafee, will you join Congressman Gephardt in increasing taxes since you think we tax too little.

CHAFEE: No, that's very difficult politically and I recognize that. My dad lost an election over raising taxes. It's very difficult politically. You might say President Bush 41 and President Clinton lost the house and the Senate by raising taxes. Right now we have to just take the hand we're dealt and try and cut our spending.

CARVILLE: All right. This weekend, Saturday, will be the running of the Kentucky Derby as Churchill Downs. Senator Lincoln Chafee, known to me and few people as one foremost horse handicappers in the country. He has an excellent reputation. And senator, we want to put you in the rapid fire on the derby -- Bob.

NOVAK: OK, senator, who is going to be the winner Empire maker is the favorite. Who is your pick?

CHAFEE: How about Empire maker and Peace Rules? Who do you have to go with Peace Rules.

CARVILLE: Isn't there a horse called Reaganomics in this race? Sometimes I look for a price or a long shot. You got anybody in the back of the field that might be good to stick in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) here?

CHAFEE: I like Buddy Gill. He won out in California, but he might not pay enough. Duane Lucas, has the real long shot, 10 cents a shine. If you really want to make big money, maybe throw him in.

NOVAK: Quickly Senator, how much money are you putting on Peace Rules?

CHAFEE: I'll put 20 on the nose.

CARVILLE: All right. I like a man that stand behind his predictions.

NOVAK: OK, thank you very much Senator Chaffee. Thank you very much, Mr. Moore.

Next in the CROSSFIRE, "Political Alert." The president of the United States lands tomorrow on the aircraft carrier Lincoln. And he has a message about the war in Iraq.

What will he say?

And why won't Senate Democrats stop talking about this woman?

I'll tell you why next.


CARVILLE: You've heard the debate, but you haven't heard it all. Time for the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

The gang at the White House has cooked up a grand photo opportunity for President Bush. Tomorrow he'll fly to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln"in the Pacific Ocean and declare major combat operations in Iraq are over. We're not supposed to call it declaring victory. Good thing, to borrow a few words from Winston Churchill, "this is not the end the end, but the beginning of the beginning of a long and expensive occupation."

NOVAK: As I understand the Democratic spin, and I go to you for the Democratic spin above all others. Is it now that instead of having a three-month quagmire you had a three-week -- just let me finish my sentence. You had a three-week war and, therefore, now you are saying, boy, that was a -- that was not much of a war, but it's going to be a terrible occupation.

Isn't that the Democratic message?


CARVILLE: I don't know what your talking about. I said thought the war would last three days. Most Democrats I talked to almost to a person said they did not expect a very difficult war, but they did expect a difficult occupation. I think the Democrats that said that are going to be proven exactly right. I think that -- I never heard, none of my Democratic friends. And I have not ever heard anybody on this show.

NOVAK: I'll tell you a couple of people that said it's going to be a quagmire. Quagmire Democrats.

CARVILLE: I think there is a quagmire, I think our occupation is going to be a quagmire.


NOVAK: One thing is sure about Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, he is no southerner. Yet a poll completed yesterday shows Lieberman way ahead of other Democratic candidates in South Carolina as they prepare for their debates this weekend in that state. The first southern state with a primary next year. Congressman Dick Gephardt is 10 points behind Lieberman with 9 percent. How about southerners, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, 7 percent, Senator Bob Graham of Florida, 2 percent. It just seems southerners, southern voters are attracted to the least liberal Democrats, and the ones who supported the war most faithfully.

CARVILLE: Well, I'll tell you, Senator Lieberman has been a scathing critic of this administration. He's a very talented guy. He's got a very, very talented staff. I think he's going to be heard from more and more again. And I'll tell you something about southerners, being one of them, they are going to keep an open eye about this. They understand we have to do something about these deficits thereat have gone completely out of control. And since Lieberman stood up for this idiotic tax cut, this idiotic tax cut. Senator Lieberman was right on the front lines of that and I congratulate you, Senator Lieberman.

NOVAK: You evaded it as you usually evade


NOVAK: Just a minute -- wait a minute. You avoided the question. That Senator Lieberman was the most ardent supporter in the war and he's gone up in the polls all over the place.

CARVILLE: The reason he's going up with the Democrats is because he fought this idiotic tax cut.


CARVILLE: ... they voted with their TV clickers and President Bush lost again. The "Washington Post" TV column says the Dixie Chicks interview on ABC last week drew more than 13 million viewers. That's four and a half million more than tuned in to see President Bush's interview with Tom Brokaw.

Speaking of the Dixie Chicks, the Reverend Jerry Falwell has taken to calling them French hens and said they shouldn't go overseas and criticize the president. Falwell would do well to boycott French products like French fries and French vanilla ice cream.

NOVAK: So I want to get this new side of you. You're an ex- Marine. As a corporal. I think you were the highest ranking officer in the Clinton White House.

CARVILLE: I was. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. I was wrong about the war. i thought it would last three days.

NOVAK: But I would just -- do you think it's OK for Americans -- American celebrities who have made their money on this country to go abroad and say they're ashamed of their president? Do you think that's OK?

CARVILLE: You know what? I think this -- I think it's -- I think it's OK for any American to exercise their right of free speech. I think there is no way that I am ever going to say that they shouldn't do that. I could disagree when somebody says -- they have every right to say anything they want to say -- I'd criticize Bush in France. I'd be glad to. I'd criticize him -- I'd go to the South Pole and criticize him.


NOVAK: Calm down.

CARVILLE: What are you talking about?

NOVAK: Would you go -- would you personally, Corporal Carville...



NOVAK: ... go abroad and criticize and attack the president of the United States...

CARVILLE: Of course.

NOVAK: Say you're ashamed of him. I don't believe you would. CARVILLE: I would say I disagree -- I would not say I was ashamed of him. I'd say I disagree with everything he is and that he's taken the country down the road of debtors. Like I said, go to the South Pole and say it. And why the hell why wouldn't I?

NOVAK: Do you really think that the Senate Democrats' filibuster to block the confirmation of Miguel Estrada as a federal appellate judge would give the liberals their pound of flesh? Don't be silly. The Democrats are also filibustering Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen.

Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with either Estrada or Justice Own except that Teddy Kennedy and his cohorts don't agree with them. They both would be confirmed by the Senate if Kennedy and company would only let the Senate vote on them. Do you -- wait a minute. Do you really call this democracy?

CARVILLE: You forgot somebody else that disagrees with this. White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez criticized the dissent -- joined by -- joined by one case -- "an unconscionable act of judicial activism." In another case his majority opinion called dissent by Owen "an attempt to judicially amend a Texas statute."


CARVILLE: White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez has criticized...


NOVAK: Is Judge Gonzalez actively supporting Justice Owen..


CARVILLE: I can go by what he wrote in his opinion.

NOVAK: That was an opinion in a court case.

CARVILLE: Well, of course. It's a hell of a lot of more than what he did -- and he wasn't paid to do that. It's an opinion in a court case. This woman has no business. I congratulate you, Senator Kennedy and Senator Daschle for the great work you are doing. Thank you very much.

NOVAK: This is one of the most outrageous things...

CARVILLE: And I'll go anywhere in the world and criticize this president and I don't need to be constrained by this.

NOVAK: This is one of the most...

CARVILLE: Quit suppressing free speech.

NOVAK: Quit suppressing me. This is one of the most outrageous examples of the tyranny of the left I have seen, not permitting a vote on these confirmations.

CARVILLE: Well, OK. They didn't tie up (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

NOVAK: One of our viewers -- one of our viewers thinks Mary Matalin is lucky to be married to you know who. We'll let her "Fireback" next.


NOVAK: Time now for "Fireback."

Our first "Fireback" today, from Mike Brazell, Saratoga, New York.

"Bob, would you remind James that we live in 2003, not 1963? He keeps insisting the tax cuts favor the rich. Just who are these rich? Wake up, James. Movies don't cost 25 cents anymore."

Mike, you got it right. The trouble with -- the trouble with James is he's got so much money he doesn't need a tax cut. But all the rest of us do.

CARVILLE: You know, I'd like to have a tax cut like anybody else. But I tell you, I want the people that work in these hotels and clean up these rooms and people who clean up bed pans in hospitals and work and fix roads and stuff like that and school teachers and policemen to get a tax break. They need it more than I do.

"Bush's tax cut is Robin Hood in reverse. Stealing and slashing programs for the poor and giving tax cuts to the rich." Joyce, Crowley, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Joyce, you're a genius.

NOVAK: Joyce must have been reading -- Joyce must have been reading Karl Marx because that's Marxist for sure.

OK, the next one is from Jean of Hollow Rock, Tennessee.

It says, "Bob Novak, lay off Janeane Garofalo. She's the best."

I said the other night I never heard of Janeane and who the hell cares?

CARVILLE: Bob, she was on the show. She's very nice. She's outspoken. "James, I was in the CROSSFIRE audience for Monday's show and I must say that you're even more attractive in person than I ever could have hoped. Mary is a lucky woman!" Brenda Lathan of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Brenda, Mary may be watching so I better say James is a lucky man.

NOVAK: Belinda must be drinking something in that water in Milwaukee.

First question. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, my name is Megan Freeman (ph) I go to Depaul University in Indiana and my question is for you, Mr. Novak. Who would you prefer to see more of in the Senate, Democrats like Zell Miller or Republicans like Lincoln Chafee?

NOVAK: Zell Miller is one of my great personal heroes. James, you got him elected governor and then abandoned him when you found he was an independent mind. If we had more Democrats like Zell Miller we'd have a better country.

Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name is James Michael (ph). I go to Georgetown University and my question is for Mr. Carville.

CARVILLE: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't see this growth package pass, what would you see as a stimulus to the economy?

CARVILLE: Well I tell you, the first thing I'd do is -- i think Senator Gephardt -- I mean Congressman Gephardt came up with a good idea is this tax cut for small business as way to get people and this health insurance thing.

I think the second thing is is that this economy needs -- needs more consumption. I would favor some tax cut geared toward the middle class and working people. Maybe a tax credit on payroll taxes which disturbs me a great deal more than income taxes. It puts the money in people's pocket and I think that could help generate a lot better than these tax cuts that favor the rich.

NOVAK: I like to be a little bit accurate. What Mr. Gephardt is proposing not a tax cut to small businesses.

CARVILLE: Sure it is.

NOVAK: It's a tax increase for small business and all business and all people. Let's call a tax increase a tax increase.

CARVILLE: It's a tax cute for me. I provide my employees with health insurance. They get a 6 percent tax credit.

NOVAK: They take away the tax cut they gave you last time.

CARVILLE: From the left, I'm James Carville.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time at 4:30 p.m. Eastern for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is starting right now.


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