Tax deal angers right as well as left

The House Democratic Caucus has voted to change President Barack Obama's tax deal with Republicans from its current form. (Dec. 9)
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2010; 6:47 AM

Former president Bill Clinton invoked a surprising source on Friday when he praised the tax agreement President Obama reached with congressional Republicans: conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who earlier that day had written, "Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010."

While the attacks on the agreement by liberals have drawn most of the attention, Krauthammer and many prominent conservative activists also are decrying the compromise pact, which would extend current tax rates for two years, fund emergency unemployment benefits for another year and create a number tax breaks designed to spur the economy.

The Senate is supposed to start giving formal consideration to the legislation today.

Krauthammer dubbed it "Stimulus II," referring derisively to the $787 billion bill passed last year and hated by conservatives in arguing that the tax deal would be good for Obama and bad for Republicans.

His column was titled "Swindle of the Year."

Other conservatives say Republicans in Congress should have not negotiated with a president reeling from his party's electoral defeats last month. Instead, they argue, the GOP leadership should have insisted on a permanent extension of the tax cuts and required cuts in other federal spending to fund additional benefits for the jobless.

"If it were just a bill to preserve the tax rates for two years, that would be okay. But with what that's going to cost and if it happens with Republican participation, then you have to ask yourself, what was the point of the election?" talk show Rush Limbaugh said last week.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), head of the House Tea Party Caucus, said the agreement "ramps up spending in a big way and ramps up the deficit."

Chris Chocola, head of the conservative Club for Growth, which backed many successful "tea party" candidates in the 2010 campaign, called the tax plan, " bad policy, bad politics, and a bad deal for the American people. "

"The plan would resurrect the Death Tax, grow government, blow a hole in the deficit with unpaid-for spending, and do so without providing the permanent relief and security our economy needs to finally start hiring and growing again," Chocola said in a statement.

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