News / USA

Obama Tax Deal Angers Democrats

President Barack Obama during a news conference at the White House, 07 Dec 2010
President Barack Obama during a news conference at the White House, 07 Dec 2010

President Barack Obama's decision to strike a compromise with opposition Republicans on a tax cut plan has set off a mini-rebellion among many congressional Democrats who say the president is not fighting hard enough for core Democratic principles. Political analysts say Mr. Obama's move to the political center has a lot to do with his own re-election hopes in 2012.

During his time in office, President Obama has relied on Democratic support to pass his agenda in Congress. He has had little success in winning Republican votes, in part because Republicans often opposed his policies on principle.

So the president's decision to broker a compromise with Republicans to extend tax cuts first approved during the Bush administration in exchange for continuing unemployment benefits for millions of Americans out of work appears to mark a pivot point in his presidency.

"And that means because it is a big, diverse country and people have a lot of complicated positions, it means that in order to get stuff done we are going to compromise," said President Obama.

The compromise comes just weeks after Republicans made huge gains in Congress in the midterm elections in what amounted to a public referendum on the president's tenure in office.

But many congressional Democrats are angered by the tax cut deal and accuse the president of not fighting hard enough against extending the Bush tax cuts to the very wealthy.

New York Representative Anthony Weiner spoke on ABC's Good Morning America:

"We want the president to be a success," said Weiner. "There is no doubt about that and that is what separates us from the Republicans. But I have to tell you something. It is only going to get worse for the president if he allows himself to be pushed around with deals like this."

On Thursday, a majority of House Democrats signaled they are against the plan in a voice vote at a closed caucus meeting, at least temporarily stalling the White House push for a quick vote in Congress.

Mr. Obama's decision to strike a deal with Republicans sent political shockwaves to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, says Faiz Shakir of the Center for American Progress, a guest on VOA's Encounter program.

"And so it was shocking and distressing, I think, to the Democratic base to see President Obama basically acquiesce on one of his key domestic policy platforms and get really nothing in return of value in my view," said Shakir.

At a news conference earlier in the week, President Obama defended the compromise with Republicans and also had a message for Democrats who fear he has lost the taste for partisan battle.

"I will be happy to see the Republicans test whether or not I am itching for a fight on a whole range of issues," said Obama. "I suspect they will find I am and I think the American people will be on my side in a whole bunch of these fights."

Some conservative Republicans have criticized the tax cut deal as well because they fear it will add to the growing budget deficit. But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says most members of his party support it.

"We've reached a bipartisan agreement," said McConnell. "It is time Democrats in Congress reach a similar conclusion and enable us to act for the good of the whole country."

Many political analysts suspect the president is trying to regain the support of independent voters with the compromise over tax cuts. Independent or centrist voters were a major part of President Obama's victory coalition in 2008, but many of them abandoned the Democrats this year and voted Republican.

Numerous surveys show independent voters also want the two parties to work together instead of engaging in endless partisan warfare.

Democratic political strategist Mark Penn advised former President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990's when he found areas of common ground with Republicans.

"The president, I think, in moving to the center, has got to be able to say to the left and the right that look, the voters want to see some accomplishments here and that if we fail to bring accomplishments, no one is going to be the winner here," said Penn.

Analyst John Fortier of the American Enterprise Institute says the president may be taking a page from the political playbook of Mr. Clinton, who often found a way to position himself in the political center in his battles with Republicans in the 1990's.

"You might call it, if you went back to the Clinton era, a kind of triangulating where the president is now floating somewhere between the Republican Party and his congressional Democrats, and it is a difficult strategy to pull off but if he can do it, it is a smart one," said Fortier.

Bill Clinton's strategy of triangulation helped him win re-election in 1996, and many political experts believe President Obama may be looking to repeat that strategy as he looks ahead to his own re-election battle in 2012.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs