House Democrats have smacked down President Obama’s tax cut compromise with the Republicans, with Oregon’s Rep. Peter DeFazio leading the rebellion.
The House Democratic caucus this morning approved a motion by DeFazio to reject the provisions of a tax deal agreed upon by Obama and the Republicans. Among other things, the bill would extend George W. Bush’s tax break for billionaires and drastically ease the estate tax burden.
“House Democrats are particularly angry over provisions related to the estate tax, which would set a generous $5 million exemption for wealthy estates and a maximum rate of 35% for two years,” the New York Times reported.
In an interview with ABC News, DeFazio said opposition to the deal was “nearly unanimous” in the Democratic caucus and blasted the argument that continuing the Bush tax cuts would boost the economy.
“Look – we did $1.3 trillion of tax cuts between the Bush tax cuts and the stimulus bill,” he said. “Did that put America back to work? Will more tax cuts and trickle down by showering money on the wealthy, will that put America back to work? That hasn't worked.”
After the caucus vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a press conference that she wouldn’t allow the tax bill in its present form to come to the floor of the House. She didn’t indicate what modifications would have to be made for her to change her mind.
“The broad opposition to the tax cut plan among most House Democrats is no surprise, but the potential unwillingness of Ms. Pelosi to bring it to the floor could pose a serious problem,” according to the Times story. “With strong Republican support, the tax plan could easily pass the House with two-thirds or more of Democrats opposing it, but it needs to reach the floor first.”
Oregon’s three other Democratic congressmen – Earl Blumenauer, David Wu and Kurt Schrader – also have come out strongly against Obama’s tax deal.
Obama claims he had no choice but to appease the Republicans to keep unemployment benefits from running out and prevent tax cuts for the middle class from expiring along with those for the rich. But what would have been wrong with this idea: Let the Bush tax cuts expire, then come back in January with a middle-class-only tax cut bill – and DARE the Republicans to block that?
And after watching the Republicans kick Obama around like a soccer ball for two years, how could anybody doubt they were setting him up to get rolled again? “Look,” they’d say, “we have this terrible deficit” – which they just helped make worse – “so we’ve got to cut ‘socialist’ programs like unemployment benefits and food stamps.”
I’m not sure how this will all play out – the Democratic congressional leadership may fold again as it’s done so many times before – but at least temporarily I’m proud of them, and of Oregon’s Democrats in the House.