“It is inaccurate to characterize ‘Democrats’ writ large as feeling quote-unquote ‘betrayed’” by the tax cut deal he negotiated with congressional Republicans, President Obama told a reporter this afternoon a he sat in the Oval Office after meeting with the Polish President. “I think Democrats are looking at this bill and a whole bunch of them have said ‘This makes sense.’”
Since so many Democrats on Capitol Hill and elsewhere have expressed serious issues with the deal, one might wonder who are the “whole bunch of Democrats” to whom the president refers.
As of 1:45 pm EST Wednesday, the White House had emailed to reporters a total of five testimonials from Democrats supporting the tax cut compromise framework:
1. freshman Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.; 2. sophomore Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., 3. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, 4. outgoing Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, and 5. Charlotte, NC, Mayor Anthony Foxx.
DNC officials have spent much time emailing out editorials supporting the deal from newspapers such as The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Salt Lake Tribune.
“I think the more they (Democrats) look at it, the more of them are going to say ‘This makes sense,’” the president continued. “This is the right thing to do. I expect everybody to examine it carefully.”
The president seemed to argue that critics of the tax cut deal have not yet examined it carefully, saying “when they do I think they are going to feel confident that in fact this is the right course.”
At the beginning of the brief media availability – even before talking about his meeting with President Bronislaw Komorowski – the president said that “over the last couple of days, economists throughout the country have looked at what would be the results of getting this agreement through Congress. And I think it's worth noting that the majority of economists have upwardly revised their forecasts for economic growth and noted that, as a consequence of this agreement, we could expect to see more job growth in 2011 and 2012 than they originally anticipated. And I just think it's very important for Congress to examine this agreement, look at the facts, have a thorough debate, but get this done. The American people are watching, and they're expecting action on our parts.”
“I don't think we need to translate that,” Mr. Obama told the Polish-speaking translator.
But for you, gentle reader, I will translate: the White House has distributed testimonials for the deal from liberal economists at the Center for American Progress and the Economic Policy Institute, as well as from more conservative outlets such as the Business Roundtable, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the US Chamber of Commerce (no word if foreign money helped pay for the salary of the Chamber executive making the statement).
Moody’s Mark Zandi has said the deal may mean that “real GDP growth will accelerate to 4%, job gains will pick up to 2.8 million, and the unemployment rate will decline to around 8.5% by year’s end. In all likelihood, the recovery would have made it through next year without backtracking into recession, but this deal improves those odds significantly.” Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Research has reported that its passage “will force us to boost our GDP estimates for 2011.” Goldman Sachs Research says the agreement “could boost growth above our recently revised forecast for 2011.”
President Obama underlined this argument again just minutes later, saying “you’ve just had economists over the last 24-48 hours examine this and say, ‘This is going to boost the economy, it is going to grow the economy, it is going to increase the likelihood that we can drive down the unemployment rate, and it’s going to make sure that 2 million people who stand to lose unemployment insurance at the end of this month get it, that folks that count on college tax credits, child tax credits, the earned income tax credits, that they are getting relief and that tens of millions of Americans are not going to see their paychecks shrink come January 1st.’”
Not included in the White House clips: Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman saying that the president is “overpromising” by saying the deal with “spur our private sector to create millions of new jobs.”
“Millions of new jobs?” Krugman wrote. “Millions? Not by my arithmetic. So, was this worth it? I’d still say no, although it’s better than what I expected over the weekend. It still greatly increases the chances of the Bush tax cuts being made permanent — especially because the front-loading of the stimulative stuff actually worsens Obama’s 2012 electoral prospects. Overall, enough sweetener has been added to diminish, but not eliminate, the bitterness of the disappointment.”
Also not included, Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research saying “there is very little, if any, net stimulus in this package compared with current levels of taxation and spending,” And Diane Lim Rogers of the The Concord Coalition calling the deal “the typical pattern we’ve seen for the past several years. ‘Bipartisan compromise’ means both sides get what they want, because deficit financing of these policies seems like the painless way to get out of gridlock. Rather than mutual sacrifice, it is mutual grabbing. We can never manage to ‘trade off’ — we only ‘pile on.’”
The president today added that “in the next two years we’re going to have a big debate about taxes and we’re going to have a big debate about the budget. And we’re going to have a big debate about the deficits, and 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.”
The GOP formula doesn’t work, the president said, “but they’ll have the opportunity to make the case, I’ll have the opportunity to make the case that we’ve got to have tax reform, that we’ve got to simplify the system, that we do have to cut spending where it makes sense, but we’re also going to have to make sure that we’ve got a tax code that is fair. And that looks after the interest of middle class Americans and continues to grow the economy.”
-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller