As fellow Democrats accuse him of caving in to Republicans on the tax cut deal, President Obama is repeatedly promising them that he will fight the GOP aggressively when it takes over the U.S. House and adds senators next month.”I will be happy to see the Republicans test whether or not I’m itching for a fight on a whole range of issues,” Obama said last week. “I suspect they will find I am. And I think the American people will be on my side on a whole bunch of these fights.”
Obama has echoed this pledge repeatedly as House and Senate Democrats wrestle with the package that also includes items sought by Obama, including a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits and an array of middle class tax cuts. In a conference call with political supporters, Obama said: “We are going to go right back at Republicans in showing why the things that they wanted in this compromise don’t make sense.”
One of those fights will be over the very thing that some Democrats are angry about: The two-year extension of George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest Americans.
“When they expire in two years, I will fight to end them,” Obama said. “Just as I suspect the Republican Party may fight to end the middle-class tax cuts that I’ve championed and that they’ve opposed.”
Another issues: Budget deficits that, Obama agrees, will rise under the Bush tax cut extension deal.
“Republicans are going to have to explain to the American people over the next two years how making those tax cuts for the high end permanent squares with their stated desire to start reducing deficits and debt,” Obama said.
Republicans are also sharpening their weapons, saying that raising anyone’s taxes in a bad economy is a bad idea.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., a key member of the new House Republican majority, said yesterday on Fox News Sunday that his party will produce a package of spending cuts next year.
“We are not interested in raising taxes,” Ryan said. “We’re going to come out of the gates going after spending … spending cuts, spending controls, reforms of the structure of spending.”
Another possibility is tax reform, Ryan said, one that involves “broader based lower rates for economic growth.”
In deferring these kinds of battles until next year, Obama has said that without a deal the Bush tax cuts would expire and everyone would see their taxes rise, and “I want to make sure that the American people aren’t hurt because we’re having a political fight.”
That presumably comes next year.
“I’m looking forward to seeing them on the field of competition over the next two years,” Obama said.