House liberal DeFazio says Obama should start acting like Democrat

President Obama needs to start acting like a Democrat by not caving for a second time and allowing the George W. Bush-era tax rates on the wealthy to expire, according to a founding member of the House Progressive Caucus.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said on MSNBC Monday night that he and other liberal Democrats are hoping to apply enough pressure on Obama to make him “act like a Democrat.”

He also said the last Democratic-controlled Congress made a mistake in not pushing Obama more.

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“Well, in my opinion that’s what the House did wrong in the last Congress, and in part why we lost is we never pushed back no matter how wrong he was or how off-base he was; we never pushed back,” DeFazio said.

Obama caved in December by breaking a campaign promise to let the Bush-era tax rates on the wealthy expire, DeFazio said.

“Remember, the president did run on that, and he did cave on it in December,” DeFazio said.

As a result, if Obama calls for an end to the Bush tax rates on the wealthy in a Wednesday speech on the deficit, DeFazio said it would be a small step. 

To really bring down the deficit, “it’s got to be more — honestly — than just the top-bracket tax cuts,” DeFazio said.

The 13-term Democrat said all of the Bush tax rates should be allowed to expire, including those on the middle class. He said this would mean a significant tax hike for wealthier people and a more moderate tax increase for the middle class that would return the nation to Clinton-era tax rates, when he said the government balanced the budget.

Obama supports ending Bush tax rates on families with income above $250,000, but would extend the lower tax rates on people under that threshold. The White House has said Obama will lay out new plans for tackling the deficit in a Wednesday speech.

DeFazio said liberal House Democrats would be putting pressure on Obama and their own leadership.

“There are a number of us in the caucus now pushing back very hard on our leadership,” DeFazio said. “Who knows where they'll end up, but maybe we can take enough D's with us to make them uncomfortable and to make them stick with making the president act like a Democrat."

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