Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Biden Goes to Capitol Hill to Defend Tax-Cut Deal - NYTimes.com
WASHINGTON — President Obama planned an afternoon news conference and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday as the White House put on a full-court press to get Congress, and particularly members of his own Democratic Party, to defend the administration’s tentative deal with Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels for the next two years.
With many Democrats, especially liberals, angered by his concession to Republicans, Mr. Obama is likely to use his time before the cameras to highlight the concessions he got in tax cuts for lower-income workers, additional aid for the long-term unemployed and investment incentives for all businesses.
Congressional Democratic leaders have so far refused to endorse the agreement. In a statement on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reiterated her position that continuing the lower tax rates for the highest-income Americans would not help the economy and would increase the deficit. And she pointedly declined to support the plan, saying only that she would continue to meet with colleagues and hold discussions with Mr. Obama.
Mr. Biden was to attend lunch with his former Senate Democratic colleagues and try to persuade them to support the deal, which the White House made on Monday.
Even before meeting formally with their caucuses, senior Democratic leaders were signaling their deep displeasure with the White House at the moment, and earlier in the day, leadership aides said it would be largely up to the White House to sell the deal. They also said that it would be mainly up to Republican leaders to deliver the votes needed to approve the package.
Some Republicans are expected to vote against the plan because the entire $900 billion cost would be borrowed and added to the deficit. Party leaders on both sides began canvassing to see where the votes would be.
Resistance is expected to be fiercest in the House, where Ms. Pelosi planned to discuss the proposed agreement with rank-and-file lawmakers later in the day.
“The tax proposal announced by the president clearly presents the differences between Democrats and Republicans,” Ms. Pelosi said in her statement. “Any provision must be judged by two criteria: does it create jobs to grow our economy and does it add to the deficit?
“The Democratic provisions will create jobs and help 155 million workers through tax cuts for the middle class, helping working families who are struggling and growing the economy. The Republican demands would provide tax cuts to the millionaires and billionaires, fail to create jobs and increase the deficit.”
She continued: “To add insult to injury, the Republican estate tax proposal would help only 39,000 of America’s richest families, while adding about $25 billion more to the deficit.Republicans have held the middle class hostage for provisions that benefit only the wealthiest 3 percent, do not create jobs, and add tens of billions of dollars to the deficit.”
House Democrats last week approved President Obama’s preferred tax plan, which would have let the Bush-era rates expire at the end of the month on annual income above $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals.
And many Democrats view the continuation of George W. Bush’s tax policies as a bitter defeat.