Democratic no-shows as interesting as attendees at Obama tax signing
December 17th, 2010
06:13 PM ET
12 years ago

Democratic no-shows as interesting as attendees at Obama tax signing

(CNN) - Not being in the picture at a Presidential bill signing is a move that may well speak a thousand words.

Standing alongside President Obama as he signed the bill extending the Bush-era tax cuts into law on Friday were several members of Congress including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, among others.

Yet there were many members of the Democratic Caucus who were noticeably absent from the ceremony– Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, to name a few.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, who will become the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, also wasn't on stage with the president Friday. Van Hollen had been particularly critical of the estate tax provisions in the plan before the vote.

The tax plan was heralded by the White House as having a broad base of support, and did in fact pass in the Senate with a vote of 81-19 and in the House with a vote of 277-148.

President Obama was criticized by Democrats when the tax compromise was announced for veering towards Republican positions in a manner reminiscent of President Bill Clinton's "triangulation" following 1994 midterm loses.

Many Democrats now, especially liberal members of the House, openly disagreed with provisions in the deal the White House struck with Republican leaders.

"This is very difficult," Pelosi said of the deal. "Nobody wants taxes to go up for the middle class. We just don't see why we have to give an extra tax cut to the wealthiest."

Even Durbin, who advocated for the plan to be passed, on Sunday indicated voting for the bill was a bitter pill for many Democrats to swallow.

"The one defining issue, the real difference between Democrats and Republicans in terms of economic justice – it appears this agreement doesn't honor what we think are the true values and principles of our party," Durbin said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."

The package includes a two-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts set to expire December 31. It also would 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.

As for why the Democratic leadership was not at the signing, CNN's Chief Political Correspondent and host of "State of the Union" Candy Crowley, said the answer is simple.

"You don't want your picture up there with something you don't just believe in."

Filed under: President Obama • Tax deal
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Sherri W.W.

    Well,for whatever it matters,I believe ALL the leaders~Dem and Rep,should have been at the signing.I certinly DO NOT care for Mitch McConnell anymore,after everything he has tried to do,to Pres.Obama,AND to middle class Americans,and unlike some folks,I happen to ADORE Nancy Pelosi[she WILL be known in history books as "The Greatest Speaker someday]~BUT even McConnell knew better than to disrespect the President in this.~and John Boehner SHOULD know better,IF he plans to even TRY to be a half~way Speaker for the American people~which I certinly have PLENTY of doubts about~whether he crys or not!

    December 17, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  2. bj

    I hate to say this but too many of the Democrats are afraid of their shadow. If they had any intestinal fortitude they would have done this stuff earlier in the year. They need to take a play card from the Republicans, they are united even if it means they are liars and conducting deceptive practices. What ever happened to the One for All motto? They were out on recess I guess. Dems you are disgraceful and you should be standing behind your president at all times. .@$@wimps.

    December 17, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  3. Name

    The reason why the Demo party has been created after the Rep was to get a challenge. Therefore, I don't agree the Two parties to get emerged, unless for a very very emergency issues.

    December 17, 2010 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  4. once upon a horse

    seems that there a few notable GOPers that were MIA as well...the future SOH for one. Perhaps they are afraid if this deal winds up being a positive for President Obama that he along with some others don't want to have their face in that photo for the Tea Party folks to see.

    December 17, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  5. the real ib

    Pelosi sand Reid actually think they are co-presidents and Obama is not a president. Thank you Obama for standing up to them finally. Pelosi needs someone to bring her down off her high castle.

    December 17, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  6. Gil

    I wouldn't have shown up to see the rich get their tax breaks extended wither! Obama has disappointed his Liberal base and I'm one of them!

    December 17, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  7. Michaele Bonenberger

    Interesting to me how probably everyone in the photo of the tax deal signing, including Obama, will benefit by extending the tax cuts for wealthier Americans! I wonder what motivated so many lawmakers to "negotiate" that part of the tax bill! Do we have any member of Congress that is really part of the middle class? Also, most people don't even understand what the payroll tax is and how it may impact Social Security. All they know is that it gives them some money! It is a sad day for the future of our middle class and the high price our grandchildren will pay for this.

    December 17, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  8. Debbie from Arizona

    I voted for President Obama, but I have been so disappointed by this. He ran on ending these tax breaks for the wealthy, which they do not deserve. I he did it to get the best deal for average and lower income Americans i.e., continued tax breaks for the middle class, extending unemployment for 13 months, the child care tax credit, the earned income credit and college tax credits. I understand why, but extending the tax breaks to the wealthy and that darned estate tax for the very rich makes me angry. I wish he would have stuck to his guns, but I guess he felt the Republicans had a gun to the heads of average Americans and he didn't want them to pull the trigger. So much for change. Republicans win again for their rich buddies. But if President Obama doesn't get some real guts soon, I don't know if I will be able to support him in 2012.

    December 17, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  9. chuck

    The guy cannot get a break. His own party has never support him since his election

    December 17, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  10. GOP Taliban Victim

    You can always count on Max Baucaus to roll-over for the Republicans like he did on the healthcare bill

    December 17, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. Clyde

    "This is very difficult," Pelosi said of the deal. "Nobody wants taxes to go up for the middle class. We just don't see why we have to give an extra tax cut to the wealthiest."

    We are giving more money to the wealthiest Ameicans because it was easier for Obama to conceed all authority to republicans than it was to fight for then right thing. It was easier to allow Mitch McConnell to write the tax bill than it was to fight for the guy on the street. It's hard actually being a leader and this president just doesnt have it in him.

    December 17, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  12. GOP = Greed Over People

    Why would Democrats show any support for the "new" Republican President?

    December 17, 2010 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  13. CBR

    These people all work for us. We pay their salary. I am not interested in who is at the signing I am more interested in getting this group of people to do an honest day's work. They play little games and blame each other constantly.

    While you are looking for people did you happen to notice if the top Republicans from the House were there? After watching Rep. Boehner cry so many times over the last few weeks, I really was surprised that he did not attend this signing. You would think he would have been so proud of this bill.

    Perhaps Congress needs to be put in a room and made to stay there until the people's work is done. Yes, Christmas is coming and the majority in Congress celebrates Christmas. They are making their feelings known. However, where have they been for the last 10 months when they would not and could not agree on anything. "An honest day's work for a day's pay!

    December 17, 2010 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  14. bj

    I am glad that the dems didn't show up. Goes to show you what grade they are in and what grade Nancy is teaching.

    December 17, 2010 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  15. Henry Miller

    "We just don't see why we have to give an extra tax cut to the wealthiest." quoth Nancy Pelosi.

    It's not a tax cut, you moron! It's the absence of a tax increase!

    December 17, 2010 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  16. Abayomi Ademefun

    What Americans want now is cooperation among politicians and not any political dogma.

    December 18, 2010 02:17 am at 2:17 am |