Rep. David Cicilline on Newsmakers

Last week, Congressman David Cicilline was on WPRI’s Newsmakers with Tim White, Ian Donnis and Ted Nesi. After watching this episode a couple times, I think it’s fair to say that they didn’t go lightly on the Congressman, however a few times, he effectively dodged the question and avoided any follow-up. I’m sure WPRI would prefer that I link to their site with the video here but it is sometimes giving me some trouble, so it is also possible to watch it on Youtube here. Below is a not so “live blog” of the episode.
DC: David Cicilline
TW: Tim White
ID: Ian Donnis
TN: Ted Nesi
Numbers are the approximate time in the video when the statements occurred.
1:20 Tim White with the first question about Cicilline’s support of the payroll tax cut extension and the fact that the payroll tax is exactly what funds Social Security. Cutting the payroll tax means less money for Social Security, thus harming the system. Isn’t this the opposite of what Cicilline campaigned on?
(DC) Blames the Republicans in the House for blocking the compromise sent over from the Senate. Didn’t answer the question, simply says it is the Republicans’ fault for not passing the bill sent over from the Senate. Explains that the tax cut is exactly what the taxpayers need. (Note: Newsmakers was recorded before the deal was struck to extend the tax cut for two months)
1:58 (TN) Why not make the tax cuts permanent?
(DC) “It should be” and continues blaming the Republicans.
3:05 (TN) When should the payroll tax cut be allowed to expire?
(DC) Disagrees with Obama on extending the tax cuts on the wealthy, but admits to voting for it because “that was part of the entire budget compromise.” So he admits that he voted for something that he disagreed with? Congressman David Cicilline admits that he voted for a bill that extended “tax cuts for the rich” and also voted for cuts that decrease the amount of money to the Social Security system. Exactly the opposite of his campaign promises that he would “fight for” and “protect” Social Security. Here is an on-the-record vote that harms Social Security.

4:25 (DC) Will “do everything we can to strengthen and fortify both programs (Social Security and Medicare).” Ok, but is voting against funding for them really doing everything you can to strengthen and fortify the programs or is it more Washington double-speak? Or is it more Cicilline-speak?
4:55 Ted Nesi asks about the fact that President Obama wanted to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67.
Cicilline disagrees, but simply and calmly explains how that’s not a good idea for people in some professions. But how is it that when John Loughlin called for the possible privatization of some Social Security funds for younger, working Americans, Cicilline then went on a rampage claiming that Loughlin was out to destroy Social Security and was going to end the system for today’s senior citizens? Why does the President get different treatment than John Loughlin did? Simple, partisan politics. Just admit it, Congressman.
5:35 Ian Donnis refers to a letter from back in June where the spokeswoman for Cicilline requested that redistricting would affect the fewest number of voters possible but then recently, Cicilline supported a plan that would have moved as many as 125,000 voters when only 7,200 needed to be moved. How is this consistent?
(DC) “The commission released multiple plans.”
Yeah, that really is the response. The redistricting commission released multiple plans, so that made it ok. Also, Cicilline claims that Congressman Langevin’s team did just as much work to make the new maps as favorable as possible as his own team did. Claims his team did nothing more, nothing less than the Langevin team.
7:20 (ID) Does this make you look desperate that you were backing a plan to move 125,000 voters?
(DC) People don’t care about this, they care about economy, jobs, (interrupted)
7:50 (TN) Disagrees, people care.
(DC) Claims the process this time was “normal” and reiterates that Langevin’s team did just as much as his own. Claims that nothing was unusual in the redistricting process.
9:15 Nesi is shocked with that answer and virtually jumps out of his seat about the quote from the Langevin team about Cicilline being “blatantly disingenuous” that he was either not trying to influence the process or his denial about trying to do so much to influence the process.
Cicilline responds that “commissions get to decide” on the maps. So the question I’ve had about that is that if the commission decides, then why did we need more than one map? Is the commission and the contractor hired to produce the maps inept? One would think that for $700,000 the contractor would know how to take the data and come up with a fair map the first time and no other discussion would be needed. However, we got all the way in to where it was about the sixth map released that was finally acceptable. Why?
9:40: Cicilline also responds to Nesi with “I disagree with you, people don’t care, people care about the economy.”
So I guess if people don’t care, then no one should pay attention? Sounds like an old magician’s trick, “don’t look at that hand, look at this one!” while one hand is grabbing your watch or wallet.
10:35 (TN) The mayor is the only independent check on ProCAP, did you do due diligence?
(DC) “Yes” and also added “I’m very pleased that the board made some decisions about new leadership ”
(TW) “After replacing your appointees”
(DC) (shoots a glare at Ted Nesi) “SOME of my appointees”
12:10 (TW) Procap was a cesspool for cronyism. Knowing what you know now, do you agree with that?
(DC) “I don’t know enough about what you just described.”
So I’m left wondering if he disagrees with the assertion or he’s just dodging a question.
12:45 (ID) Did your appointee Badway report anything bad going on?
(DC) Says no, but that the board didn’t know either. So as long as others are being irresponsible and shirking duties, it’s ok for him to do the same. He appointed people to that board that seemingly didn’t do the job they were appointed to do. Yet he never looked back to see what kind of job they were doing?
13:20 (ID) Do you bear some responsibility for ProCap being a dumping ground for cronies?
DC) No. Appointed people were thought to be capable. Blames the board for lack of oversight.
So he appoints people who didn’t do their job. People who he supposedly vetted, yet it is the board’s job for not overseeing these people? What are we dealing with here, four year olds?
14:05 (ID) Mentions that Cicilline stayed out of the pension discussion.
(DC) Says he has tremendous respect for Raimondo and the work that she did. Also says that there needs to be serious pension reform at the local level.
15:40 (ID) How many of the eight years did Providence make the pension payments?
(DC) Claims it was all of them. The first six years was 100%, last two years was over 90% but not 100%. Cicilline claims that Providence got its unfunded liability because before he took office, city didn’t make its contributions. Is this really true if you’re using reserve funds to pay the pension bills? Especially if those funds are used as a basis for the city’s credit rating?
16:20 (ID) How can Gina Raimondo fix the whole state’s unfunded liability within months of taking office, but Cicilline couldn’t fix Providence’s after eight years, if the problem was solely with his predecessors?
(DC) He applauds Raimondo, but no other answer given. Apparently he’s a big fan of the Treasurer.
17:15 (TN) Does it “skirt laws” to borrow $35M as a “green loan” and use $30M of that to plug the budget deficit?
(DC) No, and it was the Taveras administration who did that.
18:00 (DC) “For eight years, we balanced the budget.”
Oh my goodness. There was no follow-up from any of the three about this. Either they were each thinking of their next question and not listening or they realized they only had about seven minutes left to get to other topics and didn’t want to go down this road. But for Cicilline to claim the budget was balanced for all eight years is laughable. I mean, I’m sure it would garner a “True” from PolitiFact but to balance the budget while creating a “Category five hurricane” in the city for his successor to deal with, just about had me falling out of my seat.
The last few minutes of the interview seems like Cicilline wants to get his final jabs in at the Republicans, sometimes at any cost whatsoever.
22:00 Cicilline claims that “we’ve put forth a plan to get Americans back to work, to protect our seniors by protecting Medicare and Social Security, and repeal tax breaks that send jobs overseas.” It’s the Republicans preventing him from getting any of this done.
22:15 (TN) You have a majority in the Senate and you still can’t get anything done.
(DC) [Nesi’s statement ignored] 23:00 (TW) Are we better off than a year ago, when Cicilline was elected?
(DC) Yes because it’s not another vote in the House for John Boehner.
But earlier, when the issue was redistricting, Cicilline was telling us that people didn’t care about that issue, they care about the economy and getting back to work. Now they do care about the inside politics? Tim White catches this very adeptly.
(TW) is that what people care about?
(DC) No.
I haven’t seen dance moves like this since American Bandstand.
23:30 (ID) Why aren’t Angel Taveras or Providence Council Chairman Michael Solomon supporting you re-election?
(DC) Re-election is a long time away.
Is it? It seems the election season for that seat has already begun. Or at least it has for Brendan Doherty, John Loughlin and possibly even Anthony Gemma.
As one of his last statements:
(DC) It is important to the people of the district to not have a Republican in office who will vote to end the community block program. Who will vote to end Medicare. Who will vote to end Pell Grants. What’s important is who is working to get people back to work, who will fight to save Medicare and Social Security. Fight to end subsidies to big energy companies, to stop shipping jobs overseas, to rebuild American manufacturing. All of those things, the Republicans are opposing those things. They’re attacking Medicare, Social Security.
Weird. Republicans are trying to end the health care system for senior citizens? Republicans don’t want people back to work? Republicans don’t want to rebuild American manufacturing? They’re trying to end Social Security? Cicilline ran on a platform of “protecting” Social Security. Has he done that? I guess one could say yes because it hasn’t been “privatized.” But then again, no vote was ever called to end the Social Security system. It’s really easy to protect something that isn’t really under attack. It’s really easy to go around to the senior centers with trays of spaghetti and meatballs and tell them how you’re the one to protect their monthly check and that the other party is out to take it away. But when you actually start digging into the facts, one quickly sees that the bill of sale, isn’t quite true.
It’s unfortunate that this show was only 30 minutes long as it seemed the panelists probably could have asked questions for hours and really dug into some of the issues and pressed him to actually answer the questions and not offer the usual spin. Hopefully when we get to the campaign trail and to the ensuing debates next year, his opponents will actually press him on his statements, his record and his claims.

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Max D
Max D
10 years ago

He’s like a skipping 45 rpm. They asked the right questions but I guess if all you get is bald faced lies for answers, after a while it looks like an attack if you keep going back at him. Being the media, they’re probably trying to avoid that appearance. Judging by his body language (including drinking a gallon of whatever from that six ounce cup) and responses, if you’re running against him, you’re probably licking your chops after watching.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

All three -Nesi,Donnis,and White did a very credible job of asking questions(Donnis had supported him for Mayor)and he did his usual fast talking lying in your face routine-he is the most obnoxious interviewee in the State,bar none.
Chafee is evasive and goofy sounding,but even he doesn’t touch this little creature for sheer BS.

Ian Donnis
Ian Donnis
10 years ago

Joe, it is a flat-out fabrication to say that I “supported [Cicilline] for mayor.” My previous employer, the Phoenix, endorsed Paolino in 2002 (and endorsements are a separate matter from the reporting I did at the Phoenix before leaving in 2009). Please get your facts straight.

10 years ago

“He’s like a skipping 45 rpm.”
Good description. A pre-meditatively deceptive, skipping 45.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

@Ian-I didn’t fabricate-I really thought you had supported him and my point,if you missed it,was that you are able to do a good job despite your personal opinions when you’re being a reporter.
So even if I was wrong,it wasn’t like I was dumping on you-relax.
Oh,and Happy New Year.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

How great to hear from progressive apologist extradoinaire Ian “Walter Duranty” Donnis.
As for Dayvid-he sure does have a purty mouth.

10 years ago

The mention of Walter Duranty is just plain stupid. Ian Donnis always asks direct and relevant questions in interviews, and is fair and accurate in his news stories, whatever or whomever the subject is.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

Sorry, Ian is a third rate JOKE as a journalist.
When he ran the Phoenix I begged him here to hire just a single staffer who represented the majority of us who voted for Carcieri. His response was basically “I run a far left paper so screw”.NPr is a good place for him. Democracy Now is his next stop.

10 years ago

You mean he didn’t turn his editorial decisions over to an anonymous commenter from a blog. The horror!
But it doesn’t help the pushback against real cases of bias, when people claim to see it where it isn’t.

10 years ago

First, I have no idea as to what Ian’s personal politics are. Second, if someone is running the Phoenix, why should they take a conservative on their staff? It’s a free paper and it’s one that is known for its slant. People who want to read that view and often those who agree with that view will gravitate toward that paper. Should Fox News be forced to hire George Stephanopolous just so they can be fair and balanced?
Private businesses can do whatever they want in the course of running their business, when it’s all within the law. If Joey from Westerly or anyone else wants to start up a conservative newspaper, why should someone else tell them to go hire a liberal?
The Phoenix has been in business for a long time, so clearly they’re doing something right, whether we agree with all the political stories printed or not.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

The Phoenix is well worth its price.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

If anyone has a hangover tomorrow and wants to throw up so they can feel better,just tune in to “Lively Experiment” which I saw last night.
Tom Sgouros outdid himself in a ridiculous paean to David Cicilline as a good public servant and whined about Chichi getting a raw deal in the media.
I thought Hummel was going to exhale a stream of fire into Sgouros’ face-he said something about Chichi lying to his face during an interview.No,really?Cicilline would lie?I’m shocked.
Sgouros has become a local pundit based on what?Being a tightrope walker in the circus may be a rare skill but how does it relate to what he does?
He doesn’t seem eager to document his qualifications if asked.
No matter,everyone kisses his ass.Excuse me if I don’t join that club,but Sgouros says very little of any value.
“More taxes,more taxes”just like a demented parrot.
Speaking of parrots,check out Maureen Moakley-I can’t believe people pay to have their kids listen to this idiot in classroom.
Happy New Year all!!

10 years ago

Tom Sgouros is one of the most dangerous types of people for a damaged and recovering state like Rhode Island. I have formed this conclusion based on the following observations made over the past 4 years: 1)He is personally ambitious for political power; 2)He has become very skilled at telling powerful special interest groups (unions, retirees, etc.) what they want to hear; 3)His promised solutions are all “free lunches” and gimmicks that don’t involve any real sacrifice; 4)He has no real economics expertise but is just smart and familiar enough to baffle most of his opponents with B.S.; 5)He is vain and intellectually dishonest enough to fudge the facts rather than ever admit he is wrong or doesn’t have an answer.
Expect to see a lot more of him during the next election cycle.

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