Obama Hails Senate Vote on Tax Deal

Obama calls on House to act quickly on vote in order to 'grow the economy'

December 13, 2010, 4:37 PM

Dec. 13, 2010— -- President Obama praised the Senate today for taking the important first step toward passing the controversial tax plan he hashed out with Republicans, a compromise bill which has angered many lawmakers inside his own party.

The bill still faces a tough fight in the House and the president "urged the House of Representatives to act quickly to similarly pass the bill."

"I'm pleased to announce at this hour the U.S. Senate is moving forward on a package of tax cuts that has strong bipartisan support," he said.

He said the bill "will grow the economy" and "grow jobs."

The deal passed a procedural vote in the Senate this afternoon, and will come to a final vote later in the week -- perhaps as early as Tuesday -- before it is taken up by the House.

In a procedural vote, 83 senators voted in support of the legislation, which extends Bush-era tax cuts into the new year. Sixty votes were needed.

There were 15 votes against the bill.

Obama said he knew there were members of his own party who believed the deal made too many concessions to Republicans.

"I recognize folks on both sides of the political spectrum are unhappy. I understand those concerns; I share some of them. ... That's the nature of compromise," he said.

The deal, which extends the tax cuts across all incomes, including the rich, also extends unemployment benefits and provides $400 billion dollars in new tax cuts and credits.

The tax cuts, first passed under the George W. Bush administration, were set to expire Jan. 1, meaning a tax increase for Americans across all income levels.

"First and foremost," the president said, the bill will help "the middle class who don't have to worry about a tax hike come Jan 1."

The agreement helped stave off a stalemate with the new Republican leadership, but angered many within the Democratic Party.

"Passing this bill so that the biggest tax hike in the history of the country won't happen is one thing that will bring some certainty and maybe more certainty than anything else to our economy," said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

The deal, which extends the tax cuts across all incomes, including the rich, also extends unemployment benefits and provides $400 billion dollars in new tax cuts and credits.

Many Democrats Balk at Tax Compromise

Many Democrats argue that it makes too many concessions to Republicans, including lowering taxes on inherited income -- the estate tax -- and could add billions to the deficit.

"Extending tax cuts for the wealthy is one of the least effective ways to create jobs and build the economy," said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in a statement that she opposed the bill because "extending Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy will saddle our children with billions of dollars of debt", adding that "this kind of fiscal recklessness is bad for our economy and bad for future generations."

Last week House Democrats said they would not entertain a vote on the deal without further negotiations with Republicans and the White House. The White House over the weekend pushed back hard, saying no further negotiations would take place.

"I'm not here to negotiate. We have a framework, we have an agreement. I don't anticipate it's going to change greatly," Senior White House Advisor David Axelrod said Sunday on ABC's "This Week with Christiane Amanpour."

The proposal 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.

The American public overwhelmingly supports the tax compromise, 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.