Senior White House Official: ‘We Wanted a Fight,’ too. Congressional Dems ‘Wouldn’t Throw a Punch’

Dec 7, 2010 6:54am

Vice President Biden heads to Capitol Hill today to lobby Senate Democrats to support the tax cut compromise, as President Obama faces criticism from congressional Democrats that he should have fought more for the Bush tax cuts on the middle class, and against the cuts for wealthier Americans.

The White House has two arguments for what they acknowledge are "frustrated" Democrats:

1) We wanted a fight on these tax cuts, and Congressional Democrats never took up the charge and held a vote;

2) This is a good deal — and we weren't willing to let taxes go up on middle class Americans, or to deprive the unemployed of insurance benefits, just to prove a political point.

"We wanted a fight, the House didn't throw a punch," a senior White House official tells ABC News, pointing out that for months before the 2010 midterm elections, President Obama was making the case against the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans. "The House wouldn't vote before the Senate, and the Senate was afraid they'd lose a vote on it."

"It was like the Jets versus Sharks except there weren't any Jets," the official said. "Senator Schumer says he wants a fight? He couldn't hold his caucus together."

"This isn't a debate in a lab somewhere," the official continued. "People's taxes were going to go up, and then we were going to have a Senate with a slimmer margin and House under Republican control."

Another senior White House official said that under the new Congress, it was likely all the White House would have been able to get as a concession was maybe seven months of extended unemployment insurance, as opposed to the current deal — with a payroll tax reduction, business write-offs for investments, and continued child and college tuition tax credits.

– Jake Tapper

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