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Tax deal angers right as well as left

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made a marathon 8 1/2-hour Senate speech railing against President Barack Obama's proposed tax cut compromise. The 69-year-old said 'tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires who don't need it' were unconscionable.

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2010; 12:08 PM

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."

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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." Sen. Jim Demint (R-S.C.) and Senator-elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who will start his term in January, have also criticized the agreement.

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.

Conservative critics of the compromise are, for the most part, closely connected with the "tea party" movement that transformed the political landscape over the last year.

But in the rest of the Republican world, politicians and activists so far have not expressed the same level of outrage as they did over the health care bill earlier this year, or the bailout of financial institutions in 2008.

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