WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2010 -- Despite the grumbling of House Democrats, the White House signaled Sunday that it expects the tax cut deal President Obama worked out with Republicans will be approved.
Even a House Democratic leader suggested Sunday that while he and others will try and change it, they won't ultimately block the $858 billion package.
On ABC's "This Week," presidential adviser David Axelrod sounded confident.
"We have a framework, we have an agreement, and I don't anticipate that it's going to change greatly," he said. "I think we're going to get strong support on both sides of the aisle."
But the Democrats are not going easily.
"Today we are a majority in the house, the majority in the senate and we control the presidency and we're acting like we have a weak hand," New York Rep. Anthony Weiner said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Another New York Democrat, Rep. Jerry Nadler, compared Republicans to "gangsters," complaining that middle class tax cuts are being held hostage.
"They're really saying, like a bunch of gangsters, that's a nice middle-class tax cut you got over there; pity if something would happen to it; and unless you give the millionaires and the billionaires a long-term tax cut, we're not going to permit the middle class to get its -- to continue its tax cut," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
The Senate is expected to vote on the measure today and even Democrats expect it to pass.
The American public overwhlmingly supports the deal, according to a new ABC News poll. Sixty-nine percent of Americans support the package overall, far outnumbering the 29 percent opposed. And even when given arguments that it'll add as much as $900 billion to the federal budget deficit, 62 percent continue to support the measure, with opposition inching up to only 34 percent.
The deal the president worked out with Republican leaders would extend all the "Bush-era" tax cuts (even those for the wealthy), extend unemployment benefits, provide about $400 billion in additional tax cuts and credits, and set new rates for the estate tax.
It is that last item that so surprised and enraged Democrats.
The president's deal calls for a tax rate of 35 percent on estates worth more than $5 million. That's much less than Democrats expected. They would like to see a tax rate of 45 percent that kicks in at just $3.5 million.
"This give-away on the estate tax, which, over 10 years, is $115 billion more than we should be doing," Nadler said.
So Democrats, who have felt cut out of the negotiation process on this deal, will demand changes, hoping that politically they can save face.
"Maybe they make a small change that doesn't change the bill significantly enough and they are able to say when we were able to show the president when we say we want change we get change," says ABC Political Director Amy Walter.
Republicans are having none of that.
"The answer is no. The answer is no, we are not interested in changing this deal. We're interested in passing this through," Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said on "FOX News Sunday."
But one of the House Democratic leaders, while complaining that the estate tax will give just 6,600 families a $25 billion tax break, signaled the tax cut deal will not be blocked.
"We're not going to hold this thing up at the end of the day," Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said on the FOX program.
Democrats will continue to make a lot of noise. But with time running out on the lame duck session and tax rates set to rise on the first of the year, their options are running out.