Backers, Critics See Passage of Obama Tax Deal

Features Reuters

President Barack Obama's tax deal with Republicans will likely win grudging passage in the U.S. Congress, backers and critics agreed on Sunday, after Obama clashed with liberals in his own party who branded it a giveaway to the rich.

Continue Reading Below

White House adviser David Axelrod said he believed the House of Representatives would approve the sweeping package without significant changes, despite loud complaints from liberal Democrats that Obama conceded too much to Republicans.

The Senate is expected to pass it early this week, then send it to the House for consideration.
"We believe that when it comes back to the House that we will get a vote and it will prevail there," Axelrod said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Obama's $856 billion tax deal, struck after Republicans made major gains in November congressional elections, extends all tax cuts passed under the Republican administration of President George W. Bush, including those for wealthier Americans, that are set to expire on January 1.

Democrats had hoped to allow tax rates to rise for the wealthiest 2% of U.S. households to avoid increasing the country's record-high deficit, and were particularly angered by what they see as an excessively generous tax rate for wealthy estates.

But proponents note that the package also includes an extension of jobless benefits and other tax breaks aimed at lower-income families and would renew a wide array of subsidies and breaks for businesses and renewable energy.

Continue Reading Below

"It's quite possible the tax cut extension will be passed, but not with my vote," said Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings.

"The president is going to be depending largely on Republicans to do this. They love this deal," he said on CNN.

In a caucus last week, House Democrats rejected the tax deal and chanted, "Just say no!"

'BITTER PILL'

Despite the opposition from Democrats, Axelrod said he did not expect significant changes to the deal.

"We can't change it in major ways and expect that it is going to pass. ... I expect that the framework that was agreed to will be largely what is voted on," he said.

White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee also predicted the package would pass.
"I understand the feeling that it is a bitter pill to swallow, the high-income tax cuts," Goolsbee told NBC's "Meet the Press."

The Senate began debate on Thursday on a slightly reworked version of the president's plan, adding, for example, incentives for renewable energy.

Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation," likened Republicans to political thugs in blocking an extension of tax cuts for the middle income unless they are also renewed for the rich.

"I think the alternative is to say we're not going to submit to that blackmail and let the president and the Democrats go to the people, who the polls show want the upper-end tax cuts not to continue but want the middle-class tax cuts, and say, don't submit to the blackmail," Nadler said.

What do you think?

Click the button below to comment on this article.