Even amid criticism from both the left and the right, the White House believes that its compromise on the Bush-era tax cuts will make its way through Congress. Senior White House adviser David Axelrod says it’s either that, or play a deadly game of chance with the American people.
“I think people will come around on this, and we'll get this done,” Axelrod said today on ABC's Good Morning America. “We're not going to play Russian roulette with the lives of the American people. With all the millions of people who are going to lose their unemployment insurance, right now, without this deal going forward, we ought to get this done.”
And while Axelrod admitted that the deal is not exactly what the White House would have drawn up without the demands of the GOP, he says it was either this or continued political theater.
“We had two votes on this to eliminate the tax cuts for the wealthy -- we couldn't pass that bill. And we're not going to have a better chance to do that after January 1st,” Axelrod said on CBS’s Early Show this morning. “We're looking at a long kind of political kabuki dance that would ultimately end in a compromise not nearly as good as this, and in the meantime, taxes would go up on people across this country and people will be thrown off their unemployment insurance. That's just not a good idea.”
The deal, which would extend all the Bush-era tax cuts for two years in exchange for an extension of unemployment benefits, has sparked the ire of much of the Democratic Party and some conservatives. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the proposal needed work and he would meet with the president to discuss the concerns of his caucus, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has yet to endorse the current plan. Flanking from the right, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a powerful conservative voice, formally opposed the proposal.
Still, with so few Republicans expected to vote against this proposal, it will only take the support of about 18 to 25 Democrats for it to pass.
But Axelrod maintained that more went into the creation of this compromise than just figuring out how many votes the administration could get for it.
“This is not the product of some political calculation,” he said on Fox and Friends. “This is the product of an economic calculation and what this would mean for the American people and our economy and in the alternative.... The vast majority of it is stuff that we proposed and we do like and would help middle-class families and help businesses grow. That will produce economic growth.”
Rebecca Kaplan and Olga Belogolova contributed