Democrats continue to disagree with one another over President Barack Obama’s tax rate extension compromise with Republican members of Congress.
The Democratic Caucus in the House met late Wednesday afternoon with Vice President Joe Biden behind closed doors in the Capitol. While reporters could hear moments of loud applause, no final decision over where the Party stands on the White House tax rate extension deal was announced. VP Biden heard from House Democrats that many in the Party did not want to exchange receiving one more year of unemployment benefits for two more years of extending the Bush-era tax cuts to upper-income Americans.
The compromise measure would extend unemployment benefits and lessen Social Security payroll taxes by two percent for one year.
President Barack Obama criticized Republicans as “hostage takers” for the GOP’s stance on extending the current tax rates to all income levels, particularly the upper-income tax payers.
“I’ve said before that I felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts. I think it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers, unless the hostage gets harmed, then people will question the wisdom of that strategy. In this case, the hostage was the American people, and I was not willing to see them get harmed,” said President Obama on Monday.
The Democrats continue to use war on terror terminology to describe the fight with Republicans over tax rate extensions. The regular mantra for Democrats remains that Republicans are “holding tax cuts for the middle class hostage.” Last week, Senator Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, compared negotiations with the GOP to negotiating “with terrorists.”
The president also went after his own party who opposed his negotiations with Republicans, calling these Democrats “sanctimonious” and “purists.” President Obama went on to say that nothing could get done at all on the tax legislation, if the more liberal individuals in his Party continue to stand against his tax rate extension deal with Republicans.
Senator Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, supports the president’s tax compromise with the GOP and brushed off Mr. Obama’s criticism of Democrats. Mr. Lieberman told me on Wednesday night:
“I think it’s a good agreement. I’m very glad to see a bi-partisan agreement. In an agreement, you never really get everything you want. Both sides have to feel that its fair and this one is, and most of all I think its good for the economy. Almost every family in America will get a tax cut and that’s going to be great for them in a tough time in our economy,” he said. “I think that even the president has first amendment rights to express his point of view. He’s got a right to express exactly what he feels. I don’t think he said anything too harsh, really. There’s a lot of sanctimony around here.”