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

    Let everything expire – tax cuts, unemployment. How much increased tax can you collect from the unemployed? How much tax can you collect from the underemployed? It's time for a second American Revolution.

    December 7, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  2. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    Four and the Door: do you really believe the crap you spew on here, or are you just a proud knuckle-headed uber-partisan that gladly parrots rightwing delusions? There is absolutely no credible study that shows the economy will be hurt by letting these temporary tax cuts for the wealthy expire. However the economy WILL benefit from the spending that this new money means for less wealthy individuals and families.

    You are a neo-moron. Small (or large) businesses don't hire becasue they have "extra" money laying around, they hire because CUSTOMERS with "extra" money come looking to purchase their products. What book of fairytales are you reading?!!! Do you people with such low intellectual output know how stupid you sound?!!!

    This is what scares me about the rightwing: they have not a clue about the economy or much of anything else. This was PROVEN by their repeated FAILURES when they were in COMPLETE charge for 6 years. Those years were a [R] FAILURE, and [R] alone! And now they actually glory in the fact that they have not learned even the basic lessons from those failures, but instead they like to incredulously deflect blame for their policy mis-deeds onto others (i.e. like Obama is to blame for the high unemployment caused by the [R] Great Recession?!!). And now they wish to re-gain power and repeat the policy failures all over again.....and neo-morons like Four and the Door welcome them with open arms. Remember the deficnition of 'insane'?

    December 7, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. Dave

    Those people that think we NEEDt o raise taxes for the government to have money are blind.

    The government has no idea how to manage a budget: FORCE THEM. They take in roughly 16,000 to 18,000 from every household in America and then they spend over 30,000 per household.


    They need to learn how to balance a budget and stop the waste, fraud, and abuse. It is that simple.

    For the record, there are NO tax cuts, they are merely keeping the current tax rates.

    If they really wanted to stimulate the economy they would take a couple percentage points off of every tax brackett and slash the capital gains tax. History shows us that when this is done, the economy gorws, jobs are created, and the long run, MORE revenue goes to the feds because more people are working and paying taxes.

    December 7, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. Mike-MN

    Obvious answer based on the Republican philosphy – cut the tax rate on the highest to zero and raise it on the poor and middle class. That will create jobs. Wait – GWBush cut taxes on the upper class and the country lost jobs over his 8 year term. I am amazed at how well the Republicans can pollute the airwaves telling their lies with such straight faces. The smell test – DC is populated with skunks.

    December 7, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. Randy

    I will agree with most that say that there is no proof that tax cuts automatically create jobs. But if Obama can say that the stimulus package created or saved jobs, the opposite can be said for ending these tax rates. If tax rates stay the same, no jobs may be created but many will be saved. If tax rates are raised we are sure to see jobs cut, because money can't be taken by government and used for payroll at the same time.

    December 7, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. A Kickin' Donkey

    The President has to realize that the Republicans are ALWAYS playing politics and he has fed into the "Democrats are Wimps" mindset that can be problematic for the party in elections.

    He has the majority numbers. He must take this oppportunity to BRAND the Democratic Party as the Party of the People ... The Working Man ... For those people who make under $250K per year. That is a WINNING position and the Democrats can claim it for the next 25 years.

    I don't know why the Dems didn't schedule that vote on tax cuts BEFORE the election. Imagine the commercials thatHouse and Senate Democratic candidates could have run against Republicans on that issue alone. We'd like to give you a tax cut BUT THE REPUBLICANS ARE STANDING IN THE WAY.

    Barack, my brother, I understand what it is like to be a black executive that can't afford to be as big of an a$$#o!@ as his white counterpart ... but you are the President of the United States. There is no higher office for you to aspire to. The Republicans will blink on this one.

    December 7, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. JD

    So now the President has to cut a deal in order to sustain unemployment benefits.

    If memory serves me well the "stimulus" bill was going to keep unemployment under 8%. Well we're at 9.8% and do we really need any more proof it was an utter failure. Obama has to make sure not to alienate the unemployed voting block any more than he already has and the end result is the rich get rcher. Get ready for 2 more years of this.

    I had thought the POTUS would more than likely win re-election. Now I'm not so sure. Well I guess the more things "CHANGE" the more they stay the same

    December 7, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. johnkc

    Let all the tax cuts expire. We cannot afford an extension of tax cuts when we already borrow 40 cents of every dollar the government spends.

    December 7, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    So, by breaking out the national credit card all will be fixed? Hardly, this is a CONSUMER driven economy, people will need to spend like drunken republicans before ther will be any of this "job creation" will happen. Really quite simple, I own a business that sells widgets. What good does a tax break do if no one is buying widgets? Not one bit, I will still have to cut costs or close down without any sales.

    December 7, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. Whatever

    Hopefully and being very hopeful here... this new agreement will get the economy going. If not, ALL of them will have to explain why, especially the Republicians. There were no regulations in place so the banks ran a muck, now with the new regulations to keep the Banks in check, hopefully they will not drive themselves to the brink of bankruptcy. If they do, bye-bye!

    The Dems should stop whining and the Republicians better take their snobby heads out of the clouds and BOTH sides better govern. We will all pay for it one day (well not those in the high income ranks).

    I'm sick of hearing about it!!!!!! Either way it is a lose/lose...

    December 7, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Lynda.. allow the tax cuts to expire and unemployment benefits to remain unfunded for 2 million people? You cant be serious.
    I'm with Lynda on this one. And I'm dead serious.
    It is NOT about proving a point,it is about establishing how we are going to move FORWARD. Specifically,without the bullies and the bullying, both of which have netted ZERO help during these times of economic hardship. A line must be drawn. Now is as good a time as any. Yes 2 million you say unemployed denied benefits BY THE RETHUGS. Poor and heartles timing on the Rethugs part to shoot down this extension. But what have we netted from these tax cuts? It is evident that many of us are okay with "the hit" to our paycheck in order to bring that revenue back into the fold. This is what we're willing to do for our country. Even if the Rethugs and their millionaire friends couldn't care less.
    I feel for the unemployed. But it is 2 million versus the rest of the country.

    December 7, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. Mark

    After Pelosi supervises a 5 TRILLION increase in the debt the Dems get religion? Of the $800 Billion, only $140 Billion goes to the affluent. The other $660 Billion is what they wanted. The dems aren't happy if everyone wins, but only if the "rich" lose! May they all move to a communist country.

    December 7, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. Josh

    If you don't like it, vote it down, we don't really need the Tax breaks anyway and the GOP will eventually pass the unemployment benefits extension, no way they let voters starve to prove a point...

    December 7, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. Greg Smith

    The Republicans will see this come back and bite them. They put up an ultimatum and the President called their bluff. They will have to now live with the fact that the jobs situation will not be affected by tax cuts for the rich and that they created a more severe deficit situation by their refusal to negotiate and compromise.

    December 7, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    And quite frankly I would think that a lot of you would be in agreement that Obama can't help or save everybody.
    We are real quick to say that he CAVED, but where are the freaking bellows from the rooftops when the RethugliKKKlans cooly, calmly, and cold-bloodedly chose to protect their millionaire contributors over extending unemployment for 2 plus million?
    "...Not a creature [heard] stirring, not even a mouse..."

    December 7, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  16. Susan

    Very disappointing. The President has allowed the Repubs. to get the upper hand in this debate-again. Now what can the Dems do? Vote "no" and all the sudden they are the ones who denied the tax cuts for the middle class and extension of unemployment benefits. Of course now the deficit that the Repbubs were SO concerned about will increase, while the top 2% who have not and will not be using that tax break to reinvest in jobs get fatter and more apathic about the country that provided them the environment to excell in the first place. Its a sad state of affairs with the voice of reason trampled over time and time again. Right now I have absolutly no motivation to vote for President Obama again-seems to make NO difference who is in the White House, the wealthy run this country and are only increasing their stranglehold of their power.

    December 7, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. John

    Congress would have more sympathy from me if this debate were not basically over continuing taxation at 2009 rates. So the liberal Democrats are alarmed that this bill will cause us to borrow excessively? What do they think we've been doing for a decade now? Congress needs to learn economy, just like the rest of us, and I have absolutely no sympathy for either party. Neither Republican or Democrat can possibly learn to spend within their means and keep taxes at a level appropriate for basic government services. Whether its taxes now or further crippling debt later, we're paying for pork.

    December 7, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  18. Elise from Virginia

    In no way do I want the tax breaks for the middle class to expire. However, I am disappointed in Obama for caving in to Republican demands this easily. Democrats were willing to compromise by raising the income limit to 1 million, a significant jump from the $250,000 cap. Where was the Republican compromise? Nowhere. They are pushing him around, and he is allowing it. They have forced him into a lose-lose situation, and he isn't fighting back. He should have offered them a $750,000 cap compromise and then let the Republicans say no to the people in this country who really need the help. Wouldn't have gone on for long, the outcry would have been too great. This filibuster crap should be outlawed. Nothing gets done.

    December 7, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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