Below are some of the notable comments made Sunday on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” Guests included Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus ABC News’ George Will, ABC News senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl, conservative commentator Ann Coulter, former Obama White House environmental adviser Van Jones, and former Counselor to the Treasury Secretary and Lead Auto Adviser Steven Rattner.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
SCHULTZ: We’re moving in the right direction, and the president has proposed the American Jobs Act. It would be great if my colleagues on the Republican side in Congress would actually care more about getting the economy turned around and working with this president to pass that plan and create the million jobs that would be created. Well, we shouldn’t have gone home before passing the American Jobs Act. They care more about defeating this president than they do about working with him to pass a balanced plan and continue to get the economy turned around. The ball is in their court.
SCHULTZ: George, I don’t know who Harry Reid’s source is, but I do know that Mitt Romney could clear this up in 10 seconds by releasing the 23 years of tax returns that he gave to John McCain when he was being vetted for vice president. Or even 12 years of tax returns that his own father said were what was appropriate. Because one year of tax returns, like he’s released, could just be for show. And let’s not forget that a week ago, Mitt Romney said in response to a reporter’s question when asked if he had ever paid a rate below 13.9 percent, that he would check and get back to us. And you know, I’m glad I wasn’t holding my breath waiting for Mitt Romney to get back to us on answering that question, because he still hasn’t responded whether he’s paid a lower tax rate.
PRIEBUS: Do we want to continue down the direction of unemployment above 8 percent for countless months, a president that hasn’t lived the mission, hasn’t fulfilled the promises. People aren’t better off today than they were three or four years ago. Do we want to continue in that direction? Heck no. And as far as Harry Reid is concerned, listen, I know you might want to go down that road, I’m not going to respond to a dirty liar who hasn’t filed a single page of tax returns himself. Complains about people with money but lives in the Ritz Carlton here down the street. So if that’s on the agenda, I’m not going to go there. This is just a made-up issue. And the fact that we’re going to spend any time talking about it is ridiculous.
PRIEBUS: This president has a job to do. And Harry Reid has a job to do. We have an opportunity in this country to save the very idea of America. To bring back the days of liberty, freedom, the American dream. And the fact is, we’re just — we’re not doing well right now, as an economy. And this president, is the head of this country. And he has not fulfilled the mission and he hasn’t lived up to the promises that he made to the people of this country. And it’s hard to believe that the president of 2008, when he campaigned and said he was going to bring America together, that he would trot out Harry Reid and try to divide this country and spread this division and hatred. It’s ridiculous, it’s wrong, it’s untrue. And it’s just going to hurt the president.
Thoughts on Harry Reid
KARL: Well, first of all, it’s one of the most outrageous charges that I’ve ever seen actually made on the Senate floor. Sometimes you see this stuff out, you know, first there was an interview with Huffington Post, that’s one thing, but when Harry Reid comes to the floor of the Senate and makes this outrageous charge that has absolutely no evidence — I mean, Mitt Romney paid $3.1 million to the IRS in the one tax return that we’ve seen so far. He paid taxes. It’s a completely false charge. But Reid loves it. The Democrats love this. Because no matter how much he digs in, no matter how much he gets attacked, you know, here or by Jon Stewart, or anywhere else, it gets the story out there again and again. And I’ll tell you, Romney played into it by telling Harry Reid to put up or shut up, and then it becomes this back and forth. Instead, he should have laughed it off, he should have made a joke about Harry Reid’s imaginary friend and moved on.
WILL: Harry Reid’s source, if we are to assume he actually has one, is identified by Harry Reid as an investor in Bain. That’s as though I own some Microsoft stock, which I do, and I said, well, as an investor in Microsoft, I know have opinions on Bill Gates’ tax returns. Look, in 1950, Joe McCarthy went to West Virginia, didn’t know what to tell to the Women’s Republican Club of Wheeling, West Virginia, so he said I have in my hand a list of 205, we think that are — 205 communists in the State Department. Didn’t have a list. Harry Reid doesn’t have any evidence either. This is McCarthyism from the desert (ph).
RATTNER: Look, I don’t disagree with either of you guys about Harry Reid. I don’t think it was appropriate. But you still come back to the question, why won’t he release his tax returns? If he’s paid all the taxes he says he’s paid, he says he’s paid a lot of taxes every year, why not just release them and move on? And end this discussion.
COULTER: He absolutely should not release any more tax returns. He has released two years. Bill Clinton wouldn’t release his medical records. You know, people kind of wondered about that. We know after the JFK presidency, you could have an issue with a drug addict president, but he just dug in his heels. We have two years on Romney. You know perfectly well, the media, this is Obama’s modus operandi, and unfortunately Romney isn’t divorced. Hopefully, his vice presidential candidate won’t be divorced. It’s always dirty politics. You remember when Romney was — or Obama was running against McCain and Sarah Palin. What did we get? False rumors of a McCain affair. We had investigations into the Palin marriage, claims they were getting divorced. They have nothing on this Mormon, and they want his tax records. If they releases 10 years, they’ll demand 20 years.
JONES: And as James Carville famously said, the only person who has seen his tax returns, which is John McCain, saw 23 years of tax returns, and then picked Sarah Palin. So there is something that is being hidden here.
KARL: I absolutely think that’s the case. Right now, the big decision facing Mitt Romney, is does he go with solid and safe? Does he pick Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman? Or does he go big and bold, and the two names that you see there are Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio. And I can tell you that right now, they’re looking at the big and bold. And I think that by the day, the chances of big and bold are more plausible when you see Romney behind in virtually all the battleground states. He’s being urged by some very prominent voices within the Republican Party to go big and bold, and the message that has come back to particularly Marco Rubio supporters is, reassurance that the Romney campaign he’s under serious consideration. That said, George, if you talk to Republicans close to Romney, still the overwhelming expectation is that he goes to the one of the safe picks. There is increasing pressure, and I think an increasing chance.
RATTNER: I’d say two things. First, when you look at the polls, it suggests that the public doesn’t feel quite as bad about the economy as maybe some of the people sitting next to me do. Including the president’s handling of the economy. He gets decent marks. The public still blames most of this problem on the previous administration and the mess they inherited. I personally would love to see him pick Paul Ryan, because then we could actually have a decision about Romney’s economic plan, which he is not discussing, because I think when people actually understand his plan, they’ll understand all the tax things that we talked about. They’ll understand the spending implications of the Ryan budget plan in terms of what it does to Medicare, privatizing it, what it does to Medicaid, turning it into a block grant program, and then 33 percent cuts that are going to occur in a whole series of programs, including things like food stamps. Just to make his numbers work. So I would welcome Ryan and the discussion we have about it.
JONES: We’re talking about two different things here. We have a problem with Mitt Romney, because it seems that Mitt Romney doesn’t understand what ordinary people are going through. He’s talking — he’s had these magical mystery numbers about, oh, we’re going to close loopholes. When you dig down into it, the levels, what he’s calling loopholes as you are saying, are what ordinary people rely on to keep moving forward in the economy. So I think what you got here is do you want to elect somebody who won’t tell you how much money he’s making and won’t give you his tax returns, but with all he’s put on paper, will cut his taxes and raise yours. That’s the real question.
COULTER: I think the point isn’t whether Barack Obama’s personal taxes get raised. We have to run this behemoth neverland ranch of Washington, D.C., and the main point is cutting the size of government. I mean, even when Obama famously freeze federal government salaries, remember that? When he first came into office. That’s his big fiscal austerity. That didn’t freeze their salaries. They still get their automatic pay increases that go into effect every year. You have the government running around having these huge conferences in Las Vegas and Mexico. That’s what Romney is selling. He is the Bain guy, he’s going to cut down this ridiculously sized government. Did you see the story today with the Amtrak food cart, with $10 two-week old turkey, they’re losing $80 million a year, they are only open an hour a week. That’s how the government runs things. And that’s why you need a Bain guy to come in and cut the size of government, not just keep figuring out how can we get more money to fund this.
JONES: This became not an issue about marriage equality, it became an issue about free speech, and appropriately so. Once the mayor stepped in, I think it was a huge mistake, because once the mayor stepped in and said we’re going to use the power of the government to punish people because they have a different opinion, then the entire country had to stand against that kind of abuse of authority. However, I think, citizen boycotts of Chick-fil-a or any other company that you do not agree with, that’s appropriate. Citizen boycotts are appropriate. Government stepping in, not appropriate.