September 8th, 2010
05:59 PM ET
12 years ago

Key Democrats split with Obama on taxes

Washington (CNN) - Despite President Obama's accusation Wednesday that Republicans are holding middle class income tax cuts "hostage" by tying them to an extension of tax cuts for wealthier Americans, the reality is several Democratic senators also oppose allowing President Bush's tax cuts for higher earners to expire.

Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Evan Bayh of Indiana, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut have each publicly expressed concern about the impact of raising taxes, even on the well-to-do, during an economic downturn.

"The general rule of thumb would be you don't want to do tax changes, tax increases...until the recovery is on more solid ground," Conrad said recently, summarizing their view.

Each has said the tax cuts should be extended at least temporarily.

Senate Democratic leaders know it will be virtually impossible to pass a controversial tax bill without the support of all their members but intend to press ahead with the debate later this month. They believe the political and fiscal arguments are on their side and that allowing the tax cuts for the wealthy to expire is "the consensus position of the caucus," even if a few Democrats oppose doing so, according to a top Senate Democratic leadership aide.

"There is bipartisan consensus that we should not raise taxes," retorted a senior senate Republican leadership aide, seizing on the division in the Democratic ranks.

The GOP aide didn't rule out a compromise that involved passing a short-term extension, a proposal put forth by House Majority Leader John Boehner. "If the only way to pass a bill that didn't raise taxes would to pass a temporary extension, we'd be open to talking about it," said the aide.

But the Democratic aide doubted Republicans would seriously work to help Democrats pass a bill this close to the November election.

"I don't believe the Republicans are interested in compromise," the aide said.

Filed under: 2010 • issues • President Obama
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Rick in OP

    It is not surprising that a true socialist like Obama has no clue how the U.S. economy is suppose to function. He thinks the governrment should make all economic based decisions, not the private sector.
    If memory serves me correctly, they tried Obama's way in the Soviet Union and it did not work very well.

    September 8, 2010 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  2. Ted

    How are we ever going to get out from under the heavy load of deficits that Bush caused if we don't raise taxes on not only the Bushes, but Cheney, Beck, Limbarf, Palin and the rest of the rich Republicans? The rich people will never miss the money going out for higher taxes. They do stupid things with their money anyway.

    September 8, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  3. Naqib

    In other words...
    Dems up for election are running from the administration...

    55 days to go.... it's going to be a blast

    September 8, 2010 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  4. FactCheck

    I seem to recall Evan Bayh saying that he wasn't seeking re-election in 2010. I can't take anything he has to say seriously.

    September 8, 2010 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  5. Ancient Texan

    Wow, some Democrats are smart. Who would have thought it?

    September 8, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  6. Keith in Austin

    I'm so sick of this enept socialist bashing ANYONE other than his failed policies. He continues to incite class warfare by framing all Republicans as rich intollerant racists. His elitist left-wing indoctrination has seemingly rendered him clueless in what the American People truly desire which is NOT; more spending, increasing unemployment, bigger government, union payoffs, congressional bribes, cowtowing to Muslims etc. etc. YOU Sir will feel the ire from voters that YOU and your Liberal ilk incited in 50 short days and we wish it could be sooner!

    September 8, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  7. So the Republics Scream That 50 billion In Infrastructure spending is bad, but . . .

    800 billion to the weathiest 120,000 Americans is good.

    Who loves you America? Not the Grand Oily Plutocratists

    September 8, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  8. dennis

    Oh didn't obama say HE WILL NOT RAISE TAXES.........yea right we are so screwed....

    September 8, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  9. malabar

    i knw i never got hired by someone making less than 200k per year. extending the cuts wont matter if dems keep the house though. regardless of Obamas intentions, he is seen as anti business, and that perception, fairly or unfairly, has set in.

    September 8, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  10. GOP Scorched Earth Politics

    Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Evan Bayh of Indiana are Democrats? Could have fooled me. Nelson, Bayh and Lieberman all are turncoat traitors. Don't let the door hit you in the behind on your way out Evan.

    I would hardly call these buffoons "key" Democrats.

    September 8, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  11. Tom

    Almost ten years of the "Rich-Man" Tax Breaks and the country's in the ditch. How can anyone say extending those cuts will result in something positive in the future? What's going to change? Give the richest more money in their pockets, and they keep it. They're not going to create a job because they have more money. Nobody starts a business just so they can hire someone, or create a job. They hire people to do jobs they don't have the time to do, or don't want to do.
    You cut taxes and go to war – deficits.
    Raise taxes and cut spending – surplus.
    I don't have an Economics degree, but that seems to make sense.
    End the Tax Give Aways for the Rich!!

    September 8, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  12. obamasupporter21

    Say NO to "Dr. NO" Bohener this November. This guy only knows and understand one word. NO

    Republicans have NO plans different from George W. Bush agenda. It's clear Republicans only plan is to NOT let jobs get created just to trick angry voters to voting Republicans to be majority and take us all back to the Bush agenda.

    Republicans have NO plans on giving jobs to people in America; only to tell the American People NO to the jobs. Republicans plan are to continue giving the jobs to foreigners and overseas.

    Democrats plan are to give jobs to people in America and export our goods.

    September 8, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. Diane

    What esle is new? The Democrats never stick together.

    September 8, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  14. obamasupporter21

    Say NO to "Dr. NO" Bohener this November. This guy only knows and understand one word. NO.

    Republicans have NO plans for the children's future; republicans want to cut the education out; education is the source of providing your children a better future by providing higher education to outcompete.

    Republicans policy are to corrupt children into hiding out selling drugs to make a living.

    Democrats plan are to help future children make an honest living as they grow.

    September 8, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  15. obamasupporter21

    Say NO to "Dr. NO" Bohener this November. This guy only knows and understand one word. NO

    September 8, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  16. Allen Hussein

    If the Democrats don't have 60 votes to pass the middle class extension of the Bush tax cuts, they should do it through reconciliation. That is how these tax cuts got passed in the first place!

    September 8, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  17. Keith in Austin

    Holding the middle-class hostage? Are you freaking serious, Barry??

    Your spending spree of 3 Trillion dollars are holding our future generations hostage to the debt YOU have incurred! Your blame game and efforts toward divisive class warfare pitting Americans vs. Americans is disgusting. 750,000 small business are in your crosshairs re: the Bush tax cuts. These are the same firms that EMPLOY People.

    The GOP have repeatedly offered ideas and suggestions to improve the economy that were received by resounding thumbs down responses in
    closed-door sessions headed by Reid and Pelosi. The lame excuse that the GOP is the party of NO is a falsehood. Their proposals just got a NO from Liberal Democrats in control of both Houses! What a total farce this Socialist is!

    September 8, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  18. Former Republican, now an Independent

    These "politicians" are playing it safe, just like the "do nothing" republicans in office.

    September 8, 2010 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  19. Danny J

    OK so basically Obama has been saying that repubs have been consistently against all his bills, etc. But when you look at all of Obama's controversial legislation, there has been bipartisan voting AGAINST Obama's policies. When Democrats are siding with republicans, including ones that aren't in an election cycle (Evan Bayh is RETIRING!), and Obama still pusches forward, its OBAMA that becomes the stubborn one, the sleazy politician.

    September 8, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  20. Pragmatic

    That's because under their thin-skin, they are really republicans ...

    Just ask them how America can benefit from losing $700 BILLION dollars in tax income if the Bush tax cuts remain!

    Maybe they believe in "trickle down" ... ignoring most of what really "trickles down" is warm & wet waste water.

    September 8, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  21. jules sand-perkins

    Any Democrats, "key" or not, who want to remain employed in Congress need to split with Obama on taxes and quite a lot of other issues.
    The Party's Over for this POTUS.

    September 8, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  22. mary


    The Bush tax cuts ballooned the debt, something I don't hear much about on your show. They benefit only the top 2% of Americans. They sucked the life out of employment for Americans. If that money goes back into reducing the deficit it will create jobs by itself rather than leaving it to the compassion of the wealthiest. How can there be such disparity between the number of wealthy and the number of poor in America...rapidly resembling a third world country. America deserves better.

    September 8, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  23. BJ in NC

    Why does CNN keep touting these four as key Democrats? They have demonstrated that thety are Democrats because it is convenient. They are politicians and that is all. Ben Nelson does not hold or demonstrate any values that the Democratic Party stands for. Joe Leiberman, please. Eban Bayh and Kent Conrad have been lukewarm to the policies that the Democrat party promote and try to get this country back on the right track. Wolves in sheep clothing I tell you!!!

    September 8, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  24. vic

    American we don’t need recovery package Our Government need a recovery package so we have to raise tax for rich

    September 8, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |

    I say we americans a going to hard times right now, don't think the wealthy rich are hurting, well maybe less lavish vacations or sending their brat rich kids or spouses on lavish spending sprees. We middle class (if there is such a thing) are just trying to make ends meet, kepp roof over our heads, food on the table and pay our mortgages. Tax the crap out of them. These Dems who are opposed I would love to see their financial portfolios.

    September 8, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
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