ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:
On a conference call with “Organizing for America” supporters tonight, President Obama explained his compromise with Republicans over tax cuts, saying that the “harm” the economy would suffer was “too great” to be able to afford a fight.
If the middle class tax cuts put in place last decade would have expired, “that would have cost our economy nearly a million jobs,” Obama said.
“All of this would have been damaging to those individual families," he said. "It would have been profoundly damaging to the economy, as well, at a time when, frankly, the economy is growing but we still have very high unemployment.”
The president admitted to supporters that right now there is a “healthy” debate going on about the details of the compromise and used the call to defend his decisions to compromise yet again.
“I know that there’s some folks who are angry about it," he said. "They are confused about the extensions on the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and there are policy and political objections. Some people are saying, 'Well, did we fight hard enough for our position? Did we position ourselves properly on this?'”
The president said the bottom line is the votes weren’t there.
“We put up the best and smartest fight that we could under the circumstances. That means without 60 votes in the Senate,” the president said, “not a single Republican would support our position in the Senate, and as a consequence we could not get the 60 vote we needed to overcome their filibuster.”
The president said he is “absolutely convinced” that this is the right thing to do because the “harm” to middle class Americans would have been “too great” to continue fighting.
“To break the stalemate, I had to come to an agreement with the other side,” Obama said. “Without an agreement with them, we would not be able to keep this recovery going and we would hurt millions of people.”
The president said the negotiations were “give-take,” and there are parts both parties like in the agreement.
“At its core, this framework includes many of the progressive family policies we’ve been fighting for for years,” he assured the supporters, “so this agreement overall ends up being a good deal for hard-working Americans.”
The president said the deal is “not perfect,” but it is an “essential” part of the nation’s economic recovery. He promised to fight on when the matter comes up again in two years.
“It doesn’t end the discussion on the issue of tax cuts for the wealthiest because they will expire in two years and I will continue, with your help, to make the case they should not be extended one day longer than that time frame.”
He added that they are going to go “right back at Republicans,” in showing them why the things that they wanted in this compromise “don’t make sense,” over the next two years.
“In the meantime, we’ve got to make sure the economy is growing.”