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)

    Though I am not thrilled with the presidents decision, we must not forget that our fellow Americans would have been without unemployment. We are coming into the holiday season people, and this is what the American people voted for in November, remember? We did'nt want govermenmt health care so we voted against the president and the democrats, and now you have exactly what you asked for.

    December 7, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. Tommy in Nebraska

    Reagan brought more money into the treasury then any president since, it was the Dem Congress that spent it all on unfunded social programs. Isn't it funny how all of a sudden the Dem are all conservative and are concerned about the deficit. They did not care about deficit when the passed the Recovery Act, or Social health care, of bailing out GM and Dodge and all their union buddies. Now they want to put more money into a failing union run education system.

    December 7, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  3. michael

    The reality here is what choice does he have...you idiots voted in this republican congress that will grind goverment to a halt for the next two years and the democatic majority did not do what they should have 6 months ago and deal with this issue because of the midterms...both groups left him no choice, blame yourselves, you are responsible for this.

    December 7, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "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."

    TAX CUTS DO NOT CREATE JOB GROWTH. That is a proven FACT...not only by historical record but by world-class studies. If anything here creates any job growth it is the 100% pass-through of governmetn funds into the economy via unemployment insurance, which stabilizes demand for basic goods, prevents worsening of messes like the foreclosure fiasco and helps infuse small businesses that serve local communities with revenue from people buying things like toothpaste or groceries or diapers. Tax cuts for the already wealthy and corporations are perceived by them as an increase in personal income that was not worked for or earned, did not require hiring or expansion of their business and did not require alteration of their business model in order to more effectively compete...and competition is the name of the game in any "free market" economic model. In the relatively low range, small businesses will see such a small and insignificant added tax reduction beyond their first $250K of income that it will not justify hiring or expansion, but will help them recover from depleted personal retirement funds and such. In the high range, businesses have likely already reached their niche level of competitive market share..i.e., maxed out demand for their goods and/or service...and DEMAND is what jsutifies expansion, not extra free money in your pocket. High-earning individuals will buy a bigger boat and replace their 14k gold toilet with a 24k gold toilet...it's that simple...we've never seen any other kind of behavior from them...NOT EVEN WHEN THEIR BUSINESSES WERE BAILED OUT BY THE GOVERNMENT. You can't "but but but, my ideological masters told me that tax cuts create job growth" us all you want, but their ideology exists in cartoon land, not on planet earth, and there are no substantive, verifiable facts or evidence to support their assertions...nay, insistence...that we continue to believe that is we just keep trying it that way, it will somehow magically come to fruition. IT HAS ALL BUT DESTROYED THE MIDDLE-CLASS AT THIS POINT. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

    December 7, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  5. ABM

    I say break up the two tax provisions and have the people vote on it. Clearly the Senate and Congress do not have the capacity to vote on it objectively since they only seem to care about their donors. President Obama had to do what he had to do – negotiate. While I am not a fan of the deal the American People should be more outraged at the Republicans who have been stalling and blocking this in the first place. Come on does a 3% increase really stall job creation? I think not!

    If I was the President I would hold a press conference in prime-time and call out EVERY Obstructionist Republicant by name for voting against the bills and publish their office phone numbers so they will hear it from the American People.

    To the people in the Red States – you know you do not benefit from the continued taxe break for the rich so stop whinning and call your Senator and Congressional rep to tell them to stop sticking it to the rest of this country.

    December 7, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Rob R

    First off, they never should have waited until 3 weeks before Christmas to figure this thing out. They knew since 2003 that these cuts would expire on Dec 31 2010.

    Second, as much as I am a liberal, I have to support the compromise since our unfortunate system allows the minority party to hijack anything they please.

    What I would have liked to see is having the tax rate extensions DIRECTLY TIED to the unemployment rate. If the Republicans believe so strongly that keeping the tax breaks will create a multitude of jobs, then they should be held accountable for that. My proposal would be to extend all the cuts for 1 year. At the end of 2011, if the unemployment rate is below 9%, they can continue into 2012. But if the unemployment rate stays above 9%, then the cuts expire without question on Jan 1, 2012. This way, there would be no getting around the question of whether tax cuts really do create jobs and it might actually force those millionaires to actually create a few jobs if they care so deeply about preserving their precious tax cuts.

    What's really fascinating about this whole thing is that the Republicans initially blocked the unemployment extension which only costs $57 billion, whereas they are all to happy to agree to this total package which could go as a high as $1 trillion.

    I swear, the Dems better call out the Republicans for the hyprocrites they are each and every day. So much for fiscal conservatism, eh Republicans?

    December 7, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. kyle

    Two things the GOP will get are tax cuts for the rich, and three dollar a gallon gas for big oil.

    December 7, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. sebass


    December 7, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. brett

    What do Dems expect...they cant get anything accomplished. So the Pres has to make a deal with Repubs.

    December 7, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Angie in Denver

    He's damned if he do and damned if he don't. You just can't please 350 million people at the same time.

    December 7, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. rs

    Clearly we see the Republicans have: First, no desire (or stomach?) for dealing with the deficit and the debt; Second, are only willing to lead for the 2%, and not the overwhelming majority of Americans, and third; are the most amoral group of people on the planet. Of the Democrats and Obama- well, they may not have had any options (with Republicans holding the operation of government hostage to their tax cuts for the very rich), but I am shocked and appalled that Obama and Democrats would permit $800 buillion to be added to the National debt. to appease the Republican greed heads.

    December 7, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. j

    Sold down the river. -- I`m thru with Obama. ----At least the Repubs stand fast to their beliefs and "compromise" is not in their vocabulary.

    December 7, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Becker

    We all knew it was coming. It is a typical Democratic game that they knew they could not raise taxes in this environment. But that being said they have to look good to their moronic base so they cry unfairness why negotiating to do the opposite. Notice what Obama said last night if the political stalemate continued and led to a broad tax increase, "that could cost our economy well over a million jobs." That tells me one thing and that is he never intended to raise taxes.

    December 7, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  14. concerned liberal

    Obama broken promise of the day. He promised to let these tax breaks expire. How many promises is that now?
    Guess all those finanacial corporate donations to Obama have a good return on the investment.
    Can I get my vote back?

    December 7, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Hello Fellow Humans,
    Let's bring this down to specifics. The tax cuts will increase the deficit by 3.3T over the term. We will have about 1.2T in deficits for the running of government and programs each year. That manes 2.25T per year in decifits adding to about 4.5T in 2 years. Given that the current deficit is about 14T, that means almost 19T in debt by 2012. Our GDP is 2.5 T per year. Interest accounts fro about 28% of all revenues currently. If revenues stay constant, we will see a dramatic increase in debt payments in just 2 years.

    The simple truth is that Republicans are hypocrites. They ran on "cutting the deficit" and are now spending at a FASTER rate than the Demcrats. Not one Republican who supports this proposal (not a bill yet) can honestly argue that we are being fically responsible.

    Here's my proposal: let ALL tax cuts expire. Provide unemployment benefits for 2 years or until unemployment reaches 7.2%. Pass an invest in America Act that requires business to purchase goods manufactured and made in the U.S. All small business (under 750,00) to underwrite employment with tax breaks.

    December 7, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. MikefromWV

    Obama should have said "no deal", whatsoever. This is one issue that principle becomes more important than substance. I know that millions of unemployed people would get hurt by fighting this, but the issue is more important than they are. The democrats have the upper hand in this situation and need to play the hand. On the tax cut issue, they can always go back and retroactively put back the tax cuts for the middle class. But the top 2% do not deserve any further breaks. Tax breaks for that 2% have had ten years to bring forth fruit - and have done nothing. Trickle down does not work, never has worked.

    December 7, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. Dustin

    Aren't republicans supposed to be the ones reducing the federal deficit? I guess they expect those below the 250k or 1 million mark to take care of that – depite the fact that they already pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes overall and live paychcek to paycheck.

    I'm very disappointed in the democrats on the hill today.

    December 7, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. stufit

    This whole thing is somewhat sad, some democrat figuted out the way to beat the Republicans was through "class warfare" and now you read these comments from all these drug users that we must punish the successful people in this country. You just can't keep stealing money from the people who actually work and pay taxes (50% of Americans don't and naturally support the democrat liberals) so those products of the NEA that can't qualify for a job can keep sitting around watching Oprah on their 54" plasma. I resent that the government feels it is entitled to money I work for to study the sex lives of snails and pay for Viagara for members of the teachers unions.

    December 7, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. Traci

    If our country wasn't so screwed up, this would actually be funny. NOW you're worried about the deficit? Give me a break – you've been running away with your spending and now you're upset that you can't just roll over the opposition to get your way. I'm an Independent who has voted for both sides of the political spectrum (I wish there was a viable alternative), and I am sick to death of this political posturing and partisanship as our country sinks ever lower. Those of us who work hard are sick of bankrolling those who won't (not those who can't) and things are not getting better. Obamacare, the stimulus, the deficit – it's all a house of cards, and I wonder what will be left for my son – what kind of country will be left?

    December 7, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. concerned liberal

    @shoegazer "He's surrounded by the likes of Greenspan,Bernanke,Geitner,Summers"

    Not surrounded, he is blending in pretty well now, huh? I want my vote back!

    December 7, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. Orlando Patriot

    Only the Democrats can find a way to make this sound "unfair". Let me see if I get this straight: Democrats get an extension of unemployment checks (by all means we just CAN'T demand that the unemployed actually find a job!!) but at the same time Democrats are upset because they can't INCREASE the taxes of the "wealthy" and they get mad about it? What did the Republicans get? NOTHING!!! For the LUXURY of not having to pay MORE taxes we should be happy? You Democrats just don't realize how badly you have affected this economy. Well, maybe you do. Your Community Organizer in Chief had just over 7% unemployment and now 2YEARS LATER unemployment is at 9.8%. WOW!! Your president is just doing a TREMENDOUS JOB!! If he continues with this path maybe he will be lucky enough to have maybe 15% unemployment in only 2 MORE YEARS!!

    December 7, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  22. Chris - Denver

    This institutionalizes the concept of "starve the beast."' Since we are unwilling to ask our citizens– even those with the most means– to contribute more, we simply must cut spending. Let's start with the military.

    December 7, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  23. Threat

    This is just stupid. There is a finite amount of money in this country (M0), there are two ways to get more money, print it, or get it from foreign sources. The whole concept of the 'rich getting richer, while the poor become poorer' is because in order for the rich to get richer they have to take money from the middle and lower income residents. So when you keep the Bush tax cut for the wealthy, you increase the debt that has to be paid by the people who can least afford to pay it (lower and middle income americans).

    Wealthy peoples lifestyle will not change one way or another, and to say the cuts create jobs is a fallacy. I'm very dissapointed in this, the president should do better.

    December 7, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  24. DAVE

    the democrats better stop the uncontroled spending of the republicans or our future is very much in question. i can understand extending unemployment benifits because its a matter of feeding yourself and your family. i am sure that the middleclass does not want their taxes to go up but on the other hand they understand that this goverment is going broke and needs to pay its bills. the rich and american corperation are sitting on large amounts of money right now to greedy to reinvest it in the very country and currency value they base their own wealth on. they may have all the marbles (dollars) but seem willing to except or to stupid to understand that the marbles are loosing their value very fast and are on the road to having no value at all. )gold is not the answer either because it has value to the rich only it has very little value to the middleclass because you can't eat it you can't burn it in your car you can't heat your house with it and you can't use it for medicine.) these are the same kind of people who ran the banks into the ground when wages were going up %2 a year and housing cost were going up %6 plus a year. even a dummy can see this is not sustainable without a crash. even if we give the rich more money to control what makes anybody think that they are any smarter than the last crash they caused. greed is not good and greed did not build this country instead this country was built by hard working americans and very smart and brainy businessmen. what we have now is blindly greedy businessmen with very low brain power when it come to smart long lasting investment. the IQ at the top of the food chain is very low when it comes to managing their marbles.

    December 7, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  25. john

    I was a republican for 40 years and finally had enough, switched to independent. Let the taxcuts expire! They have been in effect for ten years and have not created any jobs. What makes anybody think it will change now? Borrowing another 700B dollars is not going to get the economy going.

    December 7, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
1 2 3 4