Obama sells tax deal with Republicans as boost for troubled economy


The White House is making an economic case for its tax-cut deal with Republicans, saying it would expedite the economic recovery while at the same time warning Democrats that failure to pass would have disastrous consequences for the economy.

One day after President Obama used fiery rhetoric to shame Democrats into getting on board with his tax-cut compromise, the president on Wednesday it is “inaccurate” to say that Democrats as a whole feel betrayed by the deal that will extend for two years the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

The argument the White House pushed Wednesday, including a roll-out of statements of lawmaker support, is that the deal will dramatically expand job growth over the next two years, adding between 1.5 million to 2 million jobs.

“We could expect to see more job growth in 2011 and 2012 than they originally anticipated,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday.

The White House then rolled out Obama's top advisers -- David Axelrod, top economic adviser Larry Summers and press secretary Robert Gibbs -- to warn Democrats they risked a double-dip recession by not passing the deal. 

“Failure to pass this bill in the next couple of weeks would materially increase the risk that the economy would stall out and we could have a double-dip recession,” Summers said.

In a memo circulated to reporters, the White House argued that if the tax cuts are allowed to expire during a protracted political battle, taxes for an average family would rise by $3,000. Economic growth would be cut by as much as 1.7 percent, the memo said.

Obama's advisers indicated that they do not see any room for changes in the framework agreement.

While Summers, Axelrod and Gibbs also exhorted the economic benefits of the deal, Axelrod said passing an imperfect bill, disdained by many Democrats, is better than “playing Russian Roulette with people’s lives.”


Gibbs would not rule out a visit to Capitol Hill for Obama, but he said there is nothing on the schedule yet. 

The deal, which would extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts for two years and unemployment insurance benefits for 13 months, has met with fury from Obama’s liberal allies. Few Democrats have publicly supported the deal, and the White House on Wednesday was touting support for the deal from wherever they could find it. 


After circulating a release highlighting Sen. Jim Webb's (D-Va.) backing, the White House also hailed the support of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx.

Democrats threatened a revolt after Obama announced the deal on Monday. They accused the president of selling out core Democratic principles by allowing an extension of tax cuts for the wealthy.

On Tuesday, in a surprise press conference at the White House, Obama angrily defended his plan, telling Democrats not to be “sanctimonious” by favoring ideological purity over results that matter to the American people.

Despite Democratic disdain for the package, Obama on Wednesday pushed Congress to pass the deal.

“I just think it's very important for Congress to examine the agreement, look at the facts, have a thorough debate, but get this done,” Obama said. “The American people are watching, and they're expecting action on our parts.”

This story was posted at 1:46 p.m. and last updated at 4:02 p.m.