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Posted at 03:42 PM ET, 07/31/2011

Obama may put Bush tax cuts on table

Many Democrats and liberal activists are already expressing anger that President Obama has apparently agreed to a deal to raise the debt limit with no guarantee that taxes would be raised.

But a White House official points out that the president has not given up on a fight over tax revenues.

For starters, the official said, the Bush tax cuts, set to expire at the end of 2012, will serve as a sort of “trigger” to guarantee a major revenue increase. After all, even if Obama loses his 2012 reelection campaign, he would still be president until Jan. 20, 2013, and could veto any legislation seeking to extend those cuts.

At this time, it is not clear whether those promises from the White House will be enough to soothe feelings on the left – but the Bush tax cuts, and Obama’s willingness to extend them late last year, have been a major flashpoint for liberals. And the idea that Obama ultimately might not extend them would give the president a powerful line to fire up his depressed base.

Beyond that, Obama can use the strategy as leverage later this year as the new “super committee” created by the emerging deal debates whether to recommend any tax-code changes to drive up revenue.

White House officials caution that details of the debt limit deal are still being worked out.

Meanwhile, David Plouffe, a senior adviser to President Obama, said Sunday morning that it would be “inconceivable if we don’t reach a deal.”

“Our focus now is on solving this,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “There is no off-ramp here. The only option is for Congress to raise the debt ceiling, and deficit reduction.”

Asked if the deal represents a defeat for Democrats since it does not include tax increases, Plouffe said: “This isn’t about playing on the Republican playing field...The president has been clear he is willing to do some tough things.”

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By  |  03:42 PM ET, 07/31/2011

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