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. liberalincali

    Its official obama has sold out!!!! call your reps and senators to vote NO on this "compromise" the president has no backbone but we the people do... talking about we the people wheres the tea party at?

    December 7, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. Name

    How ironic that while there'as chance to "step up to the plate" while the desire still in the majority, not enough will do so to push thru the proposed $250k max cut before the next session and the have the gall to stomp their feet at the alternate lesser evil option. Get a backbone senate dems! Either pull your weight entry to convince your fellow senators, or if you do nothing, then sit down and shut up. I am a diehard dem and getting quite sick of a lack OS a backbone in the senate.

    December 7, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  3. GL

    independent voters you are the real problem and the same fools that gave us Bush twice. You fools keep believing in the Republicans that they are Fiscal Responsible and they are not.

    December 7, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. Peter E

    When in doubt, pass a bill that both parties hate... Extend the unnecessary taxcuts for the rich, and extend for excessive length unemployment benefits. Of course, neither of these are paid for. Welcome to another year of record deficits!

    December 7, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. quiz889

    "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.

    - do u not know, income – spending, can not spend more than u earn so why we need to borrow the money.

    December 7, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. NC

    Our President knows you don't cut off your nose to spite your face. Why should we let unemployed people suffer just to prove a point to wealthy people. Why do we continue to hear the last 2 years how will this be paid for? Nobody ever asked this question until after January 20, 2009 when President Obama took office. Anyone knows with half a brain the 2 wars, social security, medicare and medicaid are draining our resources.

    December 7, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. GL

    independent voters I am sick of you fools. Do anybody notice that most of the independent voters are not saying a word becasue they know the just got planned once again by the Republicans party. Go eat crow you stupid independent voters that voted the Republicans back in the House. The next two years are going to be pure hell thinks to the independent voters.

    December 7, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. DAVE

    what makes people think that the people at the top who are rich have anymore brains to handle and invest money in the right places as they did in the past. their low IQs took this country right to its knees and we are still trying to dig ourselves out. unless they have increased their IQs which i very much think has not happened why would we give them more money to dig even a deeper hole that we can't dig ourselves out of ?

    December 7, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. Linton

    So – how is the GOP going to pay for the tax cuts for the filthy rich?

    they said – nothing gets passed without having a plan to pay for it....oh, yeah, that's right – EXCEPT for the RICH!

    And, BTW – no, they do NOT create jobs with their personal income......never have, never will. So saying these rich ppl will create jobs is nothing but BS. show me jsut ONE CEO who has givein his/her income to pay for opertating expenses.

    As far as the right of the Govt to take taxes from the rich – get over yourselves......you are better off than 98% of the world's population...and 95% of them did NOT work a single day for their money – they inhereited it.

    It's about time the filthy rich pay their fair share....but with BO in office – there's no chance.

    BO = one termer....he sure as heck won't get my vote again!

    December 7, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. Haren

    To approve Tax cut to rich democrats should demand a sign letter from all republican that they will not extend this tax cut after 2 years on the pretax of that economy is still weak and unemployment is still to high.
    Democrats should also demand YES vote for all issue for which they said NO for last two years that include health, financial and closing loop hole for corporation which shift jobs overseas.

    December 7, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. What is the country coming to

    A lot of people want this not to pass, I wanted the President not to crave to those devils (reps). However it is more than
    meet the eyes. I wanted Obama to have the balls to say NO Way, but then there is umemployment issue and other.... and to make the deal with the devil to help the middle class is something that have to be done. I still suppoirt Obama but sometime he need to say GET BEHIND ME DEVIL

    December 7, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Emily

    These Democratic Representatives & Senators need to stand up to President Obama and let him know that we did not vote for him to bow to the Republicans. These guys are in the minority and they are calling the shots. I don't understand. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Anthony Wiener, Bernie Sanders, etc, etc, etc, we are on your side. Please don't let us down like our President just did.

    December 7, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Eric

    The people who run the government are insane. We can't afford to pay for tax cuts to the wealthy. We can't even afford to keep the tax cuts on the middle class. Let all the cuts expire. We have to scrap social welfare (I mean security), get rid of medicare and medicaid, cost the DoD to next to nothing and get rid of our debt to china. What happen to personal responsibility? Americans want everything and they want it yesterday, we'll just pay for it tomorrow. Great plan.

    December 7, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. John

    "Wait until the bill is passed and then you'll find out what's in it." - N.Pelosi

    What amazes me is when you consider what the democrats have done to California, how could they vote Pelosi, Waters, Boxer, and the rest of the socialistic gang back in? Amazing.....or just stupidity. Does any cogent thinking person think she has no contempt for Americans? This woman is a pathological liar and a danger to our country.

    "It must be a very tough time to be a democrat. With the election of Obama you were finally able to implement all of your grandiose, utopian ideas and put them into practice only to find out that all of those dreams that you believed in with every fiber of your body are complete and total failures. The guy you thought was the answer to all of your dreams has turned out to be an incompetent, rank amateur. Take heart, for yesterday's election was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal ..."

    I've been a long time supporter of the premise gays are born with a genetic reason they are gay. I fully support that with the clear understanding other factors such as environment and an amount of choice also play roles. We have now been blessed with the scientific determination there is a genetic motivator for a person to be a liberal. One can only hope they can find suitable treatments for both of these genetic defects and rid the world of both scourges.

    Mr. President, listen to the people you have sworn an oath to – ABOVE your Democratic ideals. No more gov meddling in business as every attempt has ended in failure – not the purpose or role of the government. Next, NO AMNESTY. Secure our borders! Arrest and deport ALL illegals (including relatives of politicians). Arrest employers of illegals. No more anchor babies. Enforce our federal laws. Make America safe for Americans. DO YOUR JOB.

    Write, email and telephone your congressmen and tell them to :







    What else really blows is after you die you always vote Democrat!

    December 7, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. Limabugh is a liberal

    What's the point of compromising with republicans? Democrats have given into all the demands of republicans so far, already have extended tax cuts longer than they originally planned, have removed public option from health care, caved in on Gitmo, etc. etc. and in turn got what to show for it? Two years of republicans likening them to nazis and calling Obama Hitler and blocking all those legislation they practically wrote themselves! Guess what's going happen for the next two years again! Obama will keep compromising everything away, and yet all republicans will do is keep demonizing him and trying to get him out of office! Republicans don't care about working to make this country better! They only care about power and pitiful political games!

    December 7, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. MORRIS

    Obama hear me and hear me loud and clear.You of all people should know better.Because in two years the republicans will paint you as the person that will raise taxes.And the big corperations will give them the money to do so.They will undo health care and every thing else you stood for.And when you board that helicopter inaugeration day.You will leave nothing to be remembered for except how you did not have the audacity to invoke CHANGE.

    December 7, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. T'sah from Virginia

    @Four and the Door – What makes you think "small businesses WANT to hire"? If the TAX CUTS were in place for the past TEN YEARS – what STOPPED them from hiring????? Why aren't "BIG CORPs/BIG CORP "pretending" to be small businesses" HIRING???

    This is a “Stimulus Package” in disguise………….LMAO. I thought about this all night and I was frustrated with President Obama because it seems as if he CAVED IN to the RepubliCAN’T RANT!!!! But if you THINK about it – the RepubliCAN’Ts just passed a STIMULUS bill that will add another ½ Trillion $$ to the deficit!!!!! Figure that for the "FISCAL RASCALS"!!!

    Unemployment Insurance – Stimulates the Economy!
    Reduction in Payroll Tax – Stimulates the Economy giving workers more money in their paychecks!

    To HELL with the RICH – They are NOT going to create more jobs. The RepubliCAN’Ts want you to believe that EVERY rich person has a business???? That’s NOT true!! Therefore, how would EVERY rich person who just got another BILLION $$s handed to them going to CREATE JOBS?? They will continue to SIT on their money and make MORE $$ by investing overseas where profits are “lucrative”………. Period!!!

    The ONLY thing I worry about now is who will get BLAMED if JOBS aren’t created????? NOT President Obama and he “shouldn’t” since this was a so-called “BIPARTISAN” move if it happens!!!! Also – where are the FISCAL TEA PARTY folks – why aren’t they COMPLAINING????

    Wait until CBO report come out and it states that EVERYTHING has to be CUT, including this recent TAX CUT extension for the RICH – BIG piles of SHITzkabobs are going to HIT the FAN then and that is when you will see a TOUGH Obama!!!!

    Well, I will stick with our current leader, President Obama, even though this current MOVE by him is still tearing me apart, but I know one thing; I will be counting the days – “Countdown to Job Creation” for the next year beginning January 1, 2011 so I can SLAP the RepubliCAN’Ts in the face with it EVERY DAY!!

    December 7, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  18. Happy in Nebraska

    upon learning of Obama's deal with the Republican's I could not help but to ponder the path that America is on and my thoughts directed me towards an analogy of the Titanic. A ship built to demonstrate excess and operated with arrogance and belief that nothing could happen.

    While a lifelong independent leaning towards Democratic principles the past decade has brought about a transformation in my political views. My wife and I have came to the conclusion that we, politically would be better off supporting republicans as their agenda best suites us as individuals. Our goal is to generate enough individual wealth to enable our children to have the financial options most will not. If things improve so will our financial situation, in the ship sinks than we will hopefully have enough resources to leave and live elsewhere.

    The Republican agenda has been and will continue to pursue self-benefit, especially as we see more of the post-Reagan generation republicans who are blind and ignorant to anything outside of their own circle come to power. Obama has shown he feels compromise is the path to take and while this is noble it only works if the opposition is willing to make concessions. The Republicans will not concede, they have created a political environment in America that indoctrinates the average American to believe their best interests are at heart.

    My best advice to Americas – work to create your life raft – the Republicans all calling for full speed ahead!!!

    December 7, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  19. Katie

    The real shame are the republicans. They steadfastly refused to help the majority of Americans and the nation as a whole. Their goal to ruin Obama far supercedes their devotion to our country. All the talk about leaving debt and deficit to their children and grandchildren is nothing but bullcrap – this proves they're just as willing to screw their own kids and grandkids to benefit the top 2%.

    The republican party can never claim to be "fiscal conservatives" and any claims of being concerned about the deficit should be returned with a solid laugh in their faces. They are traitors to this nation. But heck, they and the rich got theirs, screw the rest of the country. Absolutely pathetic.

    December 7, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. CBKWit

    It's incredible to me how middle class conservatives can go along with the republican party on this issue. The republicans are blatantly holding the country hostage in order to extend this tax cut for the richest 3% of the country, and limit the estate tax, which only impacts the mega wealthy. These are not policies that help anyone but the richest people in America (and spare me the trickle down BS, conservatives barely make this claim anymore because it's been so thoroughly exposed as a fraud) at the expense of adding $700 Billion to the deficit. The democrats tried to pass a bill which extends the bush tax cut for the bottom 97% of the country, but the republicans wouldn't budge because apparently the super rich need even more money.

    So you have this policy which helps no one except the top 3%, you add $700 billion to the deficit, you have the republican party blatantly, transparently holding out for these policies that benefit only the very wealthy...how can middle class (and even upper middle class) conservatives possibly support this? Isn't the deficit supposedly your biggest concern? Just because fox news says you're a socialist if you want the richest 3% to pay taxes at the Reagan rate does not means it's true. The republicans are simply using poor-upper middle class conservatives to win elections, so they can get tax breaks for the very wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

    December 7, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  21. D. Bunker

    I see a few of our resident teatards keep squawking about "stealing" money from the rich. It's too bad you clowns can't recognize that money WAS STOLEN FROM US! Average hardworking poor and middle class Americans were not the ones gaming Wall St. and paying obscene bonus from the bailout money. Get a clue.

    December 7, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Alisa

    China will soon come to collect the debt WE owe.

    December 7, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. Terry from West Texas

    How could Obama be so dense as to not bring his own party with him to the table. How could he exclude them from his negotiations? Even I realize that this was a mistake, and my people skills are primitive at best.

    December 7, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. BestProfitBusiness = WAR

    Wow, this democrat is very dissapointed. I want all tax cuts to expire. The presidents needs to tell the Americans we (the civilians) haven't sacrifice anything for the last decade when we have two wars. It is time "WE" the civilians sacrifice something and believe me, having a tax hike is not the end of the world. In the past wars, we all had to sacrifice now it is this generation's turn.

    Forget about unemployment too. We have a lot of services for poor people. They can get food stamps or welfare. Obama had his chance to get the economy better but he fail because his economic advisers are the one that cause this fiasco in the first place. It is time to move on and get fiscally responsible without cutting spending in education and for the poor people. Start with defense (get out of Iraq for real, and afghanastan) then get rid of corporate welfare.

    December 7, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. June

    What did you people expect? It is, like all politics, a deal that was cut because the other side has been holding the rest of the country hostage over this mess. I expect it was hard for President Obama to make this deal. I did not see any "enthusiasm" in him. This was a hard decision and I admire the man for putting the needs of the unemployed and the middle class above his own agenda. What else could he do? Hold out until more families were put on the street and not able to feed their children?

    He was damned if he didn't and he is damned if he did. At least he put those in need ahead of the game being played. That is what a true leader does. I WILL vote for him again. Oh, and by the way, I work and pay my taxes.

    December 7, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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