Ahead of the opening of Congress and the renewed debt ceiling controversy, National Public Radio is attempting to frame the debate against Republicans by pushing hard on the issue of tax increases.
On today's Morning Edition
, NPR used reports from the ongoing national conference of mayors in Washington, D.C. to target Republicans by suggesting they were denying federal spending to needy cities, and that they were hypocrites for raising taxes in the cities that they govern.
In one news bulletin, NPR reported that mayors--both Democrats and Republicans--were critical of "ideologues" in "Congress" (i.e. the Republican-controlled House of Representatives) over spending cuts.
Steve Inskeep then caught up with Mick Cornett, who is mayor of Oklahoma City and President of the Republican Mayors and Local Officials (RMLO).
Cornett pointed out that much of the spending shortfall had to do with financial problems at the state government level, not in Congress (which has slowed the growth of spending but has not yet cut overall federal spending.
But Inskeep pressed further, pushing Cornett to explain why he, as mayor of Oklahoma City, had managed to raise sales taxes and extend those tax hikes in order to pay for public infrastructure. Cornett gave the reasonable answer that the Democratic Party and the media refuse to hear: the city had kept spending and debt under control, and had spent the money efficiently and transparently for the public benefit--precisely what the federal government, and many state governments, have failed to do.
Not to be deterred, Inskeep keep probing, and finally produced an answer he could use (3:52):
Inskeep: Do you feel, as you watch the presidential campaign, that so far the candidates have been addressing your issues as a mayor?
Cornett: No, I don't see them looking at the idea that cities need to be able to control their own destiny. I don't see Washington in general, or these candidates in general, talking about city issues...
Cornett went on to talk about the problems with unfunded mandates from Washington, and the need for greater autonomy at the municipal level. But Inskeep had the one word--"no"--that he needed to confirm the underlying message: that the Republican presidential candidates would rather see cities suffer than support higher taxes.
Instead of contrasting the difference in governance
between a Republican-run city like Oklahoma City, and a Democrat-run city like Chicago, Inskeep and NPR explain the difference as an ideological fight over taxes--and a contrived political battle between pragmatic Republicans in the heartland and Tea Party "ideologues" in Washington.
Look for more of the same as the new session of the 112th Congress begins.