Hill Hallways: Senate Democrats Openly Upset with Tax Cut Deal
December 7th, 2010
12:29 PM ET
4 years ago

Hill Hallways: Senate Democrats Openly Upset with Tax Cut Deal

Washington (CNN) – Senate Democrats are openly expressing their disappointment, and in some cases outrage, with the President Obama's tax cut deal.

And what is most striking walking the hallways and talking to senators is that the palpable frustration is coming not just from liberal Democrats, but moderates as well.

To be sure – despite their dismay – most Senate Democrats are saying they haven't yet decided how they will vote, because they are waiting for more details.

Still, Democrats are telling us they're not only unhappy with the president for breaking a promise that he and others made not to extend Bush-era tax cuts for wealthier Americans, they're also expressing concern about the overall cost of the plan and its impact on the deficit.

"I still seem puzzled at the president's enthusiasm, and the Republicans, giving an income tax break for people making over $1 million. We're borrowing $46 billion to do so," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, a moderate Democrat.

Landrieu also chastised the president for dealing with Republicans without adequately consulting his fellow Democrats, and said she's worried this is the way the next two years will be.

"He's enthusiastic about this new arrangement dealing with the Republican caucus that stated, according to their leader, their number one objective is to unseat him. I can understand trying to appeal to independent voters. I do that myself. I think it's very important. But this sort of enthusiasm for caucusing with Republicans – and he didn't even, literally, didn't even speak to the Democratic caucus. Not any of it. Not the liberal group, not the moderate group, not the conservative group," said Landrieu.

New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg, a liberal, accused the president of "capitulation under pressure."

"I think capitulation under pressure is something that has, in my view, the wrong message and will have the wrong outcome," said Lautenberg.

Lautenberg even offered reporters a Marie Antoinette allusion.

"It almost has a 'let them eat cake' character, that the people who don't need it are going to get tax relief and as a consequence they've thrown in the people who desperately need the unemployment insurance relief," said Lautenberg.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, also on the liberal side of the spectrum, was quite blunt. "What do I think it of? Not much," he said.

Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski said she still wants to know "what did we get for it? What did the American people get for it, meaning the little guy and the real entrepreneur? I don't believe in trickle down economics. I don't believe it will promote growth. I need to know the consequences to the deficit and to the debt," she said.

We barely got the question about the tax cut deal out before Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, replied, "I'm disappointed, particularly on the estate tax."

The estate tax provision exempts the first $5 million, at which point the tax rate would be 35%.

Shaheen also said she is worried about the impact this package will have on the deficit.

"It's a concern, its also a concern about what happens two years from now, whether we are really going to have the will to deal with the deficit and deal with that," said Shaheen.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, told us the tax cut deal took her by "surprise," especially the estate tax provision.

Still, she also expressed an important dynamic other Democrats are grappling with too. She said she is trying to decide how hard to fight this.

"What I'm trying to figure is what the ramifications are if we don't accept this? What happens and what is the impact?" asked Feinstein.

"To fight just for the sake of a fight isn't something I think we should do at this time. The nation is in trouble. The unemployment rate is going up now. There are problems all over and whether this kind of fight solves those problems is doubtful, so the question is what happens if this proposal does not become law, and I'm not there yet," added Feinstein.


Filed under: Congress • Hill Hallways • President Obama • Taxes
soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. Dale

    Why do the liberal Democrats assume that whatever the rich earn or that people accumulate to pass along to their children is fair game for confiscation by the govenment by taxation? Why don't they all take vows of poverty and donate the wealth they somehow amass while working in Congress to charity or deficit reduction before they try to take money away from everyone else?

    December 7, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  2. howie

    In this situation the democrats must vote yes and move on. We can not afford to let the unemployment benefits expire at this time

    December 7, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. Four and The Door

    "What I'm trying to figure is what the ramifications are if we don't accept this? What happens and what is the impact?" asked Feinstein.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________
    Senator Feinstein never was a wizard of Economics, but here's the deal. If small businesses don't hire, unemployment continues up from the unacceptable level of 9.8% now and America continues it's recent march to mediocrity.

    Obama is making a common sense decision to help the economy. How did I know this would upset you?

    December 7, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Good Lord.

    December 7, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I still seem puzzled at the president's enthusiasm, and the Republicans, giving an income tax break for people making over $1 million. We're borrowing $46 billion to do so," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, a moderate Democrat.
    ---------
    Keep trying to sell this crap to make yourselves look better, Dems ... as long as each of YOU vote for it, YOU remain the culprit. Easy solution ... vote NO and let the tax cuts expire. Won't do that, though, will you? It's all been a game, and while I am dismayed that Obama has bought into it, what can be expected when he is surrounded by the fools calling themselves Senators and Representives of the People ... most of whom are fightened to death of their own shadows.

    December 7, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. CTinDC

    Coming from a Democrat..
    what is the alternative?? Allow the tax cuts to go up for everyone. And news flash.. the liberals leader Pelosi was at the negotiating table.

    December 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Bruce

    It seems we now have a Republican president, which means the 2012 election will be between two Republicans. I'll sit it out - let the chips fall where they may, but I won't vote for Obama a second time.

    December 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. shoegazer

    What a disappointment he's turned out to be.

    December 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  9. Thersa

    I hope they vote no and show Obama we can't be taken for granted anymore.

    December 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. shoegazer

    He's surrounded by the likes of Greenspan,Bernanke,Geitner,Summers,all of whom have had a hand in the general flushing of the American economy since the days of Reagan.

    December 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. CTinDC

    Lynda.. allow the tax cuts to expire and unemployment benefits to remain unfunded for 2 million people? You cant be serious.

    So you are cool with losing an average of 100 from your pay check to prove a point? I think not.

    December 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. Joseph-Ohio

    How in world can anyone not understand that you cannot continue to run the governemnt without MONEY!!!!!!!!!.....Sure we will have to pay more taxes now, sure it is bad, but all of this together does not spell the same kind of disaster awaiting us due to deficit spending. Go ahead save us from a little more pain now. Who is going to save us from the total breakdown our governemnt is headed for??????........It is funny how Republican keep saying the tax cuts will improve our economy.....NEWS FLASH....That plan has not worked for 8 YEARS! What makes you think it will work now??....Come on Washington! Come to grips with the true! You are robbing us from the ability to exist as a country much longer!

    December 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  13. John D

    Finally the President is showing a little common sense! It has been a long time coming.

    December 7, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    This deal is the equivalent to the trade that was done for the Island of Manhatten for a few beads to the indians. Once again the interests of the super wealthy come before that of the regular people that make this country run. When is enough money enough for you? What, a billion dollars is still not cutting it for you? How many BMWs, Mercedes, beach houses and yachts do you need? I would say shame on you, but you would just laugh it off you bunch of heartless, souless, greedy, self serving cons. I see now you got the President to drink your koolaid too.

    December 7, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. Rick McDaniel

    The deal was done to get more runaway spending approved. It is no different from any other pork barrel politics, and should be an example to those on the hill, that prok barrel politics, is BAD for the country.

    They should NOT approve this deal!

    December 7, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. GOTP traitors

    Everyone knows that the rich and super rich in this global economy will take their GOTP tax cut profits and invest in CHINA and INDIA where the high growth investments are currently at....
    Why would a super rich capitalist invest in low growth America ?..
    Wall street has just fleeced America's middle class of their 401k savings accounts in a housing/economy bubble that wall street and banks took years to build, why on earth would they give that money back again to America's middle class?..

    December 7, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  17. uknow

    Okay, I have to say it. This would not have happened if Hillary had been elected, she is not afraid to stand up to the big guys and she does stand by what she believes. Obama may well end up a one term pres so why can't he just fight for what he believes? I am one of those middle classers and I would gladly pay more in taxes to have the rich PAY THEIR SHARE! Gosh, I think we got a total of $200-300/mth in our pay with the cuts. I can live without it and so can the rich! Call their bluff and let the tax cuts expire and the unemployed starve and see how those Repubs look then! I think Obama would look stronger than being the cave-in pres he has been so far!

    December 7, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. Indie Woman in Denver

    The Pres & Dems aren't the "let them eat cake" bunch. That would be the Repubs who fought long, hard, and dirty for this deal. At least the middle class, working class, and unemployed get SOMETHING out of it, although I'm mad as hell that the rich will keep getting richer ON THE BACKS OF THE REST OF US. I don't begruge them the money they actually earn, but borrowing more from China is not a good thing to do, especially to benefit folks who keep saying they're so worried about the deficit (the lying hypocrits).

    December 7, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. malcolm in St Louis

    I was a strong supporter of the President but now feel he has no backbone.

    He should have let all the tax cuts expire and tell the repubs he just made a trillion dollar down payment of the deficit.

    As regards START he should stare them down and tell them to vote on it.

    DADT likewise tell old man McCain to listen to the Defense Chiefs and let them recruit and fight the wars.

    December 7, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. masgap

    Seems to me President Obama is dealing with reality. I would have liked a fight also and called the GOP's bluff and used the
    media to say: "If taxes rise blame the Republicans" I tried to compromise and upped it to a million dollar limit. Call the Republicans and put pressure on THEM. But maybe i am not dealing in reality when in reality my taxes would rise some $3000 per year. So Obama did the best he could. If America would vote Democratic this would be different. Get what you vote for!

    December 7, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. jeff waid

    Dale. There isn't any assuption. Most of those with incomes above $250k have gotten there off the backs of those at the bottom. They should be happy to be able to be where they are and patriotic enough to pay there fair share of taxes so we can all live in a civilized society. Of course you are probably one of the most greedy of the greedy. Move to Somalia!

    December 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    "So you are cool with losing an average of 100 from your pay check to prove a point? I think not."
    ----------
    Yes I am, CTinDC. I have watched my great state of Minnesota go down the drain with cut after cut after cut because our fool of a governor decided lowering taxes would benefit us. It did not. While I am sympathetic to the 2 million unemployed, my husband lost his 28 year job, half his pension, all of his medical, and our 401K in 2006. He chose not to sit on unemployment, took a much less paying job, and we have survived. I am not in favor of adding to the deficit, and am sick to death of the politics as usual being played. Both ends, poor and wealthy alike, are playing this for all it is worth ...

    December 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. Marko

    This deal is the equivalent to the trade for the island of Manhatten for a few beads to the indians. Once again the wealthy gain at the expense of the common person who make this country run. When is enough money enough for you. What, 1 billion dollars can't cut it for you? How many BMWs, Mercedes, beach houses and yachts do you need? I would say shame on you, but you would just laugh it off you heartless, souless, greedy, self serving bunch of cons. You don't even create any jobs, you just pocket the money. Now I see that you also got the President to drink your koolaid.

    December 7, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. King

    The prez have alot of work to do so dems need to back him up and don't break ranks. The repugs distroyed us because they went with every thing the repugs did no matter what. The people respected that, and voted to doom us all. This is not about the right thing to do, but the effectiveness on how you do things, is what the American people respect. So it's time to play the repugs game, by sticking together no matter what, and beat them at it, because we were divided through the last election and the repugs isolated and Concord us. We can't make the same mistake twice.

    December 7, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. ART

    Just your fiscally responsible Republicans at work. Thank god I have no kids to be burdened with this years from now

    December 7, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
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