President Obama defends his tax cut dealPresident Barack Obama on Tuesday gave at times an impassioned defense of a deal reached with Republican lawmakers that temporarily extends Bush-era tax cuts for the rich for two more years, in exchange for middle-class tax cuts and extension of recently expired unemployment benefits.

"Because of this agreement, middle-class Americans won't see their taxes go up on Jan. 1, which is what I promised," the president said during a press conference shortly after the deal with GOP lawmakers was reached. Further, the said, the pact also means 2 million unemployed Americans will continue to receive jobless benefits.

"This isn't an abstract debate," the president said. "This is real money for real people that will make a real difference in the lives of the folks who sent us here."

A GOP "Holy Grail"

In response to reporters' questions about critics' complaints that the president wasn't willing to stand up to Republicans and demand that tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans be allowed to expire beginning next year, the president said an extended battle would have been bad for both the American people and the still-recovering U.S. economy.

Obama, however, promised to press on to ensure that tax cuts for the rich aren't yet again extended when they expire in 2012, when he's up for reelection.

"The problem is that Republicans feel that this is the most important thing they have to fight for as a party," the president said. Likening the tax cuts to the Republicans' "holy grail," Obama said, "It seems to be their economic doctrine."

Just Like in the Health Care Battle

Refusing to negotiate with Senate Republicans may have seemed a tempting strategy, not unlike refusing to deal with hostage takers, until hostages get hurt, he said. "Then, people will question the wisdom of that strategy," he said, adding in this instance it was the American people who were the hostages, and he wasn't willing to see them harmed.

"This notion that somehow we are going to compromise too much reminds me of the debate we had during health care," Obama said, referring to the administration's decision to forgo a public option to ensure that a comprehensive health-care overhaul bill was passed.

The president bristled at suggestions that he didn't fight hard enough to defend the positions of those in the Democratic Party who oppose tax cuts for the rich and that he shouldn't compromise with the Republicans.

Despite achieving a "signature piece of legislation" that Democrats have been fighting for 100 years, Obama said, some critics viewed the decision to strip out the public option to ensure the larger health care measure passed as "a sign of weakness and compromise."

If that's the standard by which success or sticking to core principals is measured, the president said, "We will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people."

Obama urged Democrats who may be discouraged by his decision to compromise with Republicans to keep their sights on the long term. "Look at what I promised during the campaign," he said. "There's not a single thing that I said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I haven't gotten it done yet, I'm still trying to do it."

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george

This Obama character is clueless on the budget much less on how to be a president. What a disaster this country is in and this monkey is out raising monkey for re-election. What a joke.

April 21 2011 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nbamoon

Mr. Obama's decision to compromize on the matter of Bush era's tax cut for the ultra riches is a short-sighted decision that ultimately betray the middle class; he needs to look at long and broad view if he is really care about middle class. Afterall, he is not a governer, but a nation's Chief Executive Officer. This atrocity of the short-sightedness has never been expected from Mr. Obama and is a tragidy for poor working Americans.

December 10 2010 at 3:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hawaiiana

I am a liberal democrat but am disappoined with the compromise. In college a professor once said to us the problem with compromise is neither party is happy with the outcome. I hate to say this but there has to be some end to extending unemployment benefits. It is obvious the Republicans only give lip service to reducing the deficit. They are more than happy to spend $$$ on extended benefits if it allows people with very large income to keep that extra 4% they now enjoy. Hold their feet to the fire and let them answer to the American people how they justify spending more and not increasing income (taxes). With two years to digest this the American people will thrash the Repulicans at the next federal election

December 08 2010 at 11:30 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
pipetsa

IT IS TOO BAD BOTH PARTYS DO NOT CARE ABOUT REALITY. WITH THE GROWING DEFICIT WE ALSO WILL HAVE A 1 YEAR REDUCTION IN SS. TAXES IN PAYROLL? TAX BREAKS FOR THOSE OVER 1 MILLION PLUS? WHY ? HOW WILL THIS STIMULATE JOBS WHEN THE TAX BREAK HAS BEEN HERE FOR YEARS AND NOTHING IMPROVED WITH JOBS.

December 08 2010 at 11:12 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pipetsa's comment
robmerlaw

Suppose every high income person, and every working stiff able so save a few dollars, just decides that they have enough and retires, or stops earning, or goes 100% into tax-free municipal bonds. Would the budget deficit and national debt just go away? No. The problem originates from the millions and millions who game the system and either pay no taxes or accept government handouts.

December 08 2010 at 10:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sam7jak

sometimes in life we must take what we can get for the moment and live to fight another day.....that's the situation Mr. Obama finds himself in and don't kid yourself another day is coming........

December 08 2010 at 7:09 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Bearmaul

It will take more than just extending the current tax rate to get this economy going again. The things that this president and all liberals just don't get is, and I'm speaking as a small business owner, the economic health of my business comes first, my wages come second, my employee's come last. As an example the health insurance I pay increased 43% starting next year, since my health is important to my business health I will pay the increase, since my employee's health is unimportant and since continuing to pay for health insurance for my employee's would be extremely detrimental to my business health employee coverage will be dropped starting next year. Since my wages is important to the health of my business my wages remain the same but since my employee's wages are not important to my business health any increases in operating cost depresses their wages, an example would be mt unemployment insurance has increased 450% since Obama took office, that resulted in one less employee for my business increasing unemployment but spreading the cost to all business owners. This is just a snapshot and an incomplete one at that of what small business owners are going through, this is the reason our politicians should not be professional politicians but people from the private sector with business experiance serving short terms.

December 08 2010 at 3:40 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to Bearmaul's comment
ilenesternberg

Gee! I thought all the fat cats were predicting Wall Street would be booming today after the announced odious tax cut deal the GOP pulled with Obama. Even Wall Street doesn't believe tax cuts for the wealthy is a good move. This country will be dead by 2025. That's what happens when you turn a Democracy into and Oligarchy.

December 08 2010 at 2:43 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
cclearly

Democrats who do not get everything they want are now "THE PARTY OF NO". LOL!

December 08 2010 at 1:21 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
ha6ai

The bloated government needs to be deflated. Obamacare must be repealed and replaced. "Takers", who want to take money from the "makers" - who create wealth and create jobs - should shut up. You have no "right" to other people's money. You are already living on Welfare (charading as the "earned income tax credit" and "making work pay"). Nobody is hired by a poor person. Trying to take others' money is un-American. Obama's voters who pay no income tax should remain sheepishly quiet when the subject of tax rates is discussed.

December 08 2010 at 1:08 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to ha6ai's comment