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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid