- Associated Press - Sunday, December 12, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior White House adviser predicted Sunday that President Obama’s tax-cut deal with Republicans will pass by year’s end, and a Democratic leader said the House won’t “hold this up” despite anger over some parts.

A Senate vote is set for Monday on legislation that would avert a Jan. 1 increase in income taxes for nearly all Americans. The package faces a tougher sell in the House, where Democrats have voted not to allow it to reach the floor without changes to scale back tax relief for the rich.

Obama aide David Axelrod told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the administration will prevail in the House, an assessment reinforced by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, who is a member of the party’s leadership.

Mr. Axelrod called the deal “a tremendous win” for the middle class, but he acknowledged it’s a compromise with items the White House doesn’t fully embrace.

He said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, “understands the consequences of inaction” on the plan and that there is urgency in passing it. “Everyone understands what it will mean to the economy if we don’t get this done,” he said.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said there was a “good cross section” of fellow Democratic senators who are ready to accept the deal. He said House Democrats, who will become the minority party when the next Congress begins in January, should go along because they won’t be in a position to fight for a better deal in 2011.

Mr. Van Hollen told “Fox News Sunday” that many House Democrats want to scale back a provision that would allow estates as large as $5 million to escape taxation. But he declined to say whether that will be a deal-breaker and said middle-class families will not see tax increases in January.

“The president made a deal with Senate Republicans and … to the credit of Republicans, they did not say this better deal on the estate tax was essential,” Mr. Van Hollen said. “We’re not going to hold this up at the end of the day, but we do think this simple question should be put to test. We’re going to ask Republicans and others, are they going to block this entire deal” to protect wealthy estates?

Mr. Axelrod said on ABC’s ‘This Week” that he didn’t foresee “major changes” in the House to the package that the White House developed with Senate GOP leaders.

Rep. Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, who will lead the House Budget Committee in the new Congress, called the tax-relief package in its current form “take it or leave it.” He said if Democrats try to scuttle or block the deal on tax breaks, then the first thing Republicans will do when they take over the House next year is pass the package.

“We already have this deal with the president,” Mr. Ryan told Fox in explaining why House Republicans will not compromise.

Under the estate-tax provision, the first $5 million of a couple’s estate could pass to heirs without taxation, and an additional $5 million for the spouse. The balance would be subject to a 35 percent tax rate.