Thune: 'Easy' and 'expedient' to criticize negotiated tax deal

GOP Sen. John Thune on Tuesday hit back at opponents of President Obama's tax-cut compromise, saying that their position represents support for higher taxes.

Thune (S.D.) — a potential 2012 presidential candidate — appeared to take a veiled shot at some high-profile members of his own party, warning that the country cannot afford to let "the perfect becom[e] the enemy of the good" when it comes to the expiring Bush tax cuts.

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"Now, it's easy to stand on the sidelines and to criticize this proposal. And it's perhaps even politically expedient to stand on the sidelines and criticize this proposal," Thune said during a floor speech. "But let me make one thing very clear, Mr. President: advocating against this tax proposal is to advocate for a tax increase."

Several of Thune's potential rivals have recently come out against the tax-cut deal, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, arguably the two front-runners in the GOP presidential field.

The Senate on Monday voted overwhelmingly to advance the $853 billion package brokered by Obama and Senate Republicans. The crux of the deal is a two-year extension of all the tax cuts in exchange for a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits.

Republican critics of the deal, including Thune's Senate colleague and potential presidential candidate Jim DeMint (S.C.), are pushing for the tax cuts to be extended permanently and for Congress to punt action on the cuts to next year, when the GOP takes control of the House.

Thune said that Congress must pass the deal now to ensure that taxes do not increase for anybody. 

"Now, it would be great if we could wait a few weeks," Thune said, adding that he would "be very happy to see a bill" drafted by a GOP-controlled House.

"But that is a luxury that just doesn't exist," he cautioned," because of this deadline looming in front of us."

"It's not a scare tactic. It's not political posturing ... that is a fact," he said.