Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called Republicans "a bunch of gangsters" who blackmailed Democrats to ensure the nation's wealthiest retain their tax cuts.
Nadler, appearing Sunday morning on CBS's "Face the Nation," characterized the Republican stance on the bipartisan compromise to extend the Bush-era tax cuts as the following: "Unless you give the wealthier a tax cut we're not permitting the middle class to get it."
Nadler expressed concern that Republicans will continue pressing Congress and President Obama for a permanent extension of those tax cuts, and that if we "succumb to blackmail" now, why should there be any expectation that they will have the "political gumption in 2012 to not submit again"?
"The president probably should've stood a little stronger and not gone along with the Republican blackmail attempt," Nadler said. "He thinks we can fix this in two years; I'm more skeptical of that."
He called the push for the tax cut extension part of a "30-year Republican plan to 'starve the beast' " so there are reasons to cut housing, Social Security, education and other funding.
While Nadler called for "very major changes" to the tax extenders measure instead of letting all tax rates increase Dec. 31, he said the president should put the issue to the people and say he won't submit to Republican demands.
"If he conducted a campaign like that for a couple of weeks we'd win that," he said.
Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, argued that the tax bill "is terrible for the country in the long term" because the $857 billion plan isn't paid for, and that continuing the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts will represent 60 percent of the deficit by 2018.
"There's no pain in this agreement — it's the easy way out for everybody," Dean said. "As much as everyone is complaining, someone needs to do something about the long-term problems in this country, and it's not in this bill."
Nadler agreed that the bill is a bad compromise "because it sacrifices the wealth of the country long-term."
"The more immediate problem is creating more jobs and now we can't do that while considering permanent tax cuts, the estate tax and jeopardizing Social Security down the road."