Watch Out for the Democrats

By Dan Froomkin
Copyright 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009; 2:11 PM

It's not just Republicans who are deeply attached to the status quo. The entire Washington establishment is threatened by Obama's audacious and course-changing goals -- and that includes Democrats in Congress. Shailagh Murray writes in The Washington Post about the growing Democratic pushback against the party's own agenda: "Obama's far-reaching plans for health-care, energy and education reform...continue to enjoy broad Democratic support. But as the ideas develop into detailed legislation, they will transform from abstract objectives into a tangle of difficult trade-offs. Crop subsidies, the student loan program and Medicare radiology rules are all currently niche concerns, but any one could become the next crisis for party leaders, with the potential to derail a major agenda item. One major proposal, to limit itemized deductions for wealthy taxpayers, has already raised doubts among prominent Democrats in both chambers." Jackie Calmes and Carl Hulse write in the New York Times that "the Democratic barons of Congress" are weighing in on Obama's plans. "The apparent first casualty is a big one: a proposal to limit tax deductions for the wealthiest 1.2 percent of taxpayers. Mr. Obama says the plan would produce $318 billion over the next decade as a down payment for overhauling health care. "But the chairmen of the House and Senate tax-writing committees, Senator Max Baucus of Montana and Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, have objected to the proposal, citing a potential drop in tax-deductible gifts to charities. "Billions in savings from cutting government subsidies to big farmers and agribusinesses? No dice, said Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who heads the Senate Budget Committee.... "Mr. Obama is taking a gamble in outsourcing the drafting of his agenda's details to...five veteran lawmakers and others in Congress, each with his own political and parochial calculations." Lynn Sweet blogs for the Chicago Sun Times that Obama has invited 68 members of the House New Democrat Coalition to meet with him this afternoon at the White House. "The NDC is a caucus of moderate Democrats, created in 1997. Obama earlier met with the Blue Dog Democrats--a slightly more conservative group of moderates-- when he was wooing their vote for his stimulus package."

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