Controversy surrounding DeFazio comments on Obama continues
December 16th, 2010
06:06 PM ET
10 years ago

Controversy surrounding DeFazio comments on Obama continues

(CNN) - Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, Thursday appeared to backtrack comments he made on CNN's "Parker Spitzer" Wednesday night claiming he'd been told President Obama pressured Democrats to vote for a controversial extension of Bush-era tax cuts, saying not passing them would be "the end of his presidency."

DeFazio's turnaround on the issue comes a few hours after the White House said the President "hasn't said anything remotely close to that." As a follow up, DeFazio is scheduled to appear Thursday on CNN's "Parker Spitzer" at 8 p.m. ET.

Asked about the comment he made Wednesday where he said the President was telling Democrats his presidency was hanging in the balance if the tax bill failed, Defazio said: "I didn't say 'telling Democrats" I said 'I heard, in a group of members talking, one member said, well, the President said this."

When told the White House denies the President had made any such comment, DeFazio said, "I don't know, I have no firsthand knowledge. Maybe that member was loosely interpreting what the President said, because certainly Joe Biden painted an apocalyptic scenario saying that pollsters were unanimous saying this would be a disaster and it would all be blamed on the Democrats if we didn't do this package. So maybe something like that was said and the member interpreted it that way. I have no direct knowledge and it was not the major thrust of my remarks."

The controversy began in an interview with CNN's Eliot Spitzer Wednesday on "Parker Spitzer," DeFazio said "The White House is putting on tremendous pressure, making phone calls; the president's making phone calls saying that's the end of his presidency if he doesn't get this bad deal."

Asked by CNN's Kathleen Parker if he had personally received such a phone call, DeFazio said he had not, adding, "I won't name the members cause they said this to me, you know, not for public disclosure, I talked to one member who had that call."

DeFazio argued the plan would harm the administration, and called the deal with Republicans a "trap."

"I think this is potentially the end of his possibility of getting reelected if he gets this deal and it's a trap," DeFazio said. "It's a trap on social security and on progressivity in our tax system, and a tax on huge cuts to programs we care about because this adds half a trillion bucks to the deficit next year."

The White House on Thursday pushed back at DeFazio's remarks. "He [President Obama] hasn't said anything remotely close to that and he's never talked with DeFazio about the issue," White House spokesman Amy Brundage told CNN on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Senate passed the $858 billion tax cut package, which includes a two-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts set to expire December 31. The measure would also extend unemployment benefits for 13 months, cut the payroll tax by 2 percentage points for a year, restore the estate tax at a lower level and continue a series of other tax breaks. The measure, which passed the Senate with a vote tally of 81-19, now advances to the House of Representatives. The House will take up the bill Thursday, according to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland.

Filed under: Parker Spitzer • Peter DeFazio
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Allen in Hartwell GA

    I'm someone who worked to elect Obama, and I would hope any Democrat in the House who couldn't stand up and vote their constituency would turn in their seat. This tax bill is such a giveaway to the Republicans that Obama should gag every time he thinks about what he's done. For the House to fall on their sword for the estate tax is a waste of good blood. Most Americans don't give a damn about the estate tax, and any good estate lawyer can save his clients lots of money getting around the tax. There are lots of other parts of the tax bill that are worth fighting against, but not the estate tax part. Hell, give them a 5-percent rate and let it go, and most of us wouldn't know any difference. But don't screw with FICA, and raise the income tax rates!!!

    December 16, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    Most the time I agree with Peter DeFazio (for several years, I was able to and did vote for him), but sometimes, I think he shoots himself and the Democratic Party in the foot.

    No, this tax compromise is not everything I would hope for. But I think in the long run, it's going to work out well for our country.

    For the record, I don't care how much something PO'd me, I would NEVER support my opposition simply to make a point. The Republicans have been doing their best to divide and conquer; if you want to help them in that effort, Rep. DeFazio, that is your right. BUT NOT BY MY HAND!

    December 16, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  3. Mad man

    With unemployment hovering at 10%, and nothing to show for his Presidency except failed policies resulting in total public unrest, there is absolutely nothing that Obummwad can do to save his sorry arse. He will go down with the Pelosi and Reid Congress as the most tumultuous leadership America has experienced since Carter.

    December 16, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. Just Another Dave

    So the congressman said, "I said 'I heard, in a group of members talking, one member said, well, the President said this."
    What is this? Double hearsay?
    I actually didn't personally hear him say that he heard someone say that they heard the president say whatever he said, but it sure sounds like the kind of solid information one should feel confident enough about to spread around on TV.

    December 16, 2010 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  5. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    "Backtrack" in I'M A LIAR!!

    December 16, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  6. Ken in NC

    OK. Here we go. ......."I won't name the members cause they said this to me, you know, not for public disclosure, I talked to one member who had that call."

    Now DeFazio said this "IN PUBLIC" after saying it was not for "public disclosure" while naming the party that was alledged to have made the statement that "WAS NOT FOR PUBLIC DISCLOSURE". This is a fine example of the definition of a hypocrite or just plain old stupid. Our politicians, both Republicans and Democrats are all acting like children. I remember tellling my daughter of my concerns about how our nation was going to survive when her generation became the country's leaders. I owe her an apoligy. It suspect that her generation is not going to have an opportunity to do it. That concern should be directed at the idiots of my generation that appear to be doing a better job of destroying this nation than the Chinese and Russia and for the record, I am a Democrat lashing out at our Democratic and Republican government officials.

    December 16, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  7. GOP Taliban Victim

    I love it...Dem with a backbone. Although technically Obama is right. If taxes go up – the GOP will spin it around and spread their lies as usual.

    December 16, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |