House Dem Peter Welch: Obama's Tax Cut Plan Will Backfire

Barack Obama and the economic stimulus package, tax cuts, congress, capitol hill, economy, money, House, senate CBS

Barack Obama and the economic stimulus package
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President Obama may have agreed to the outlines of his tax cut deal with Republicans in the name of bipartisanship, but he shouldn't expect any good will from Republicans in return, one congressman told Hotsheet today.

"The irony of this is the Republicans who are agreeing with this are going to use this deal for two purposes," said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a vocal opponent to Mr. Obama's deal. "It will be an argument they use to oppose any spending for helping middle class Americans. They'll say our debt is so great we can't afford it."

Secondly, Welch said, the GOP will "use this addition to the debt against the president, saying he is a budget buster."

Mr. Obama worked behind the scenes in recent weeks to craft a compromise plan for extending the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year. The plan proposes to extend all of the tax cuts -- including those for the wealthiest Americans -- for two years, extend unemployment insurance for about a year, and to cut payroll taxes, among other things. The plan costs a hefty $900 billion, which stands in stark contrast to calls from both the president and members of Congress for deficit reduction.

Mr. Obama has endorsed various proposals for deficit reduction this year, such as a federal pay freeze, and he created a deficit reduction commission that recently released a comprehensive plan for cutting $4 trillion from the federal budget. Welch contends this tax cut deal undermines those efforts.

"The ink's not dry on the Bowles-Simpson report, which made clear we have to make hard sacrifices," he said. Meanwhile, Welch criticized both the president and Democrats for being unable to make the "easy choice" for deficit reduction -- letting the tax cuts expire for those making over $200,000.

Welch is organizing oppositionto the plan among House Democrats with a letter he intends to send to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Yet he said he is "pessimistic" about its impact, since "whatever we do this year could be undone next year" when Republicans take over the House.

He added, "This is not a debate that can be won without tough presidential negotiation and his willingness to draw that line in the sand."

While Welch and several other lawmakers -- both Democrat and Republican -- are pushing back against the proposal, others say the deal represents a smart move politically by the president.

CBS News Senior Political Producer Robert Hendin reports on economists who predict the plan will spur economic growth.

"While [Democrats] may be upset at parts of the deal, in the end, a stronger economy and new tax cuts - created on THEIR watch - will only help the president's and their electoral chances in the next election," Hendin writes.

CBS News Political Analyst John Dickerson adds, "Obama ran in 2008 as a man who would bring both parties together. Monday night he presented himself as a man who had done just that."



Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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