Congressional Black Caucus opposes Obama on tax-cut package
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Friday announced that they are overwhelmingly opposed to the deal President Obama has struck with Republicans on extending the Bush-era tax cuts and are proposing their own alternative that essentially hews to a plan House Democrats passed this month.
Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) was joined by CBC members Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Donald Payne (N.J.) and Donna Christensen (V.I.) in announcing the CBC's position on the package, which Lee said she made clear at House Democrats' meeting on Wednesday with Vice President Biden.
"We are simply here to say that we want a fair deal," Payne said. "You know, there was the New Deal under Roosevelt, and then there was a Fair Deal under Truman. Every new deal is not necessarily fair, and we see this new deal as not necessarily fair."
The announcement came one day after House Democrats aired their grievances on the tax-cut framework in a closed-door session.
In outlining the CBC's objections to the package, Lee said that the "vast majority" of CBC members are opposed to the estate tax provision and the extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy and are worried that the spending cuts that could follow the package might hit the poor especially hard.
"We understand that there are tough choices that will need to be made next year and we are extremely concerned that the cuts that could be made should this package pass would disproportionately hurt the poor and low-income communities and further erode the safety net," Lee said.
The CBC's counter-proposal showed few signs of members giving up ground. The proposal includes a two-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class -- which was part of the tax-cut measure that the House passed this month -- as well as a payroll tax holiday and a 13-month extension of unemployment insurance benefits. All three components are priorities for congressional Democrats.
CBC members said that their plan would cost less than half of what the plan negotiated by Obama and Republicans would cost and create about the same number of jobs.
"You can't give everybody a tax cut like it's Oprah Winfrey or Santa Claus," Scott said, contending that the government would have more resources to deal with job creation if the CBC's plan is adopted.
The 41-member CBC is a voting bloc that generally has been supportive of Obama's agenda but has complained at times that its support is taken for granted. Lee said Friday that CBC members "don't see this as a personal issue at all" against Obama and would welcome a meeting with him to discuss the plan further.
The Senate is making progress on the Obama proposal, with the plan expected to come up for a vote as early as next Monday. Asked what the CBC will do if the Senate passes a version of the package that resembles Obama's compromise, Lee demurred.
"We're going to look at what takes place and determine our strategy as this evolves," she said. "Certainly there are a variety of legislative strategies and options that we're considering, but at this point we don't know exactly how this will play out."
| December 10, 2010; 12:55 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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