White House tax deal greeted with backlash from Senate Democrats

A deal between President Obama and congressional Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years has met with an angry backlash from Senate Democrats.

Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallRecord number of LGBT candidates running for governor Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Democratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat MORE (D-Colo.) joined Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOn paper, Wilkie is the perfect candidate for VA secretary, but his qualifications go further Sacha Baron Cohen mulls arming toddlers with guns in inaugural episode Ocasio-Cortez to campaign with Bernie Sanders in Kansas MORE (I-Vt.) in stating his opposition to the deal.

Other Democrats have criticized the proposal but are waiting to hear from Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBiden: I’m ‘ashamed’ of Trump’s border policies Biden to ramp up campaigning for Dem candidates after Labor Day: report California Dems endorse progressive challenger over Feinstein MORE at lunch Tuesday and review the deal more closely before making a final decision.
“I’m opposed right now,” said Udall, who added that some provisions in the package make sense, such as extended unemployment benefits, but he questioned whether it does enough to help middle-class families given its cost.
Udall also said he opposed the proposal to set the estate tax at 35 percent for inheritances worth more than $5 million for the next two years. He would prefer a lower exemption.
Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuFormer New Orleans mayor: It's not my 'intention' to run for president Dems grasp for way to stop Trump's Supreme Court pick Landrieu dynasty faces a pause in Louisiana MORE (D-La.) said she couldn’t believe Obama agreed to extend tax cuts for families earning more than a $1 million after pledging in the 2008 presidential campaign to set the threshold at $250,000 for extended tax cuts.
“If I end up voting for this package, it will not be silently, it will be being dragged to that position having firmly established that I disagree strongly with some provisions and can’t imagine this president leading the country in that direction,” Landrieu said.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said Obama paid a “ransom” to get a deal with Republicans.
“I don’t like what I see because it looks like there was a ransom paid with a kind of ‘Let them eat cake’ attitude,” said Lautenberg.
Lautenberg noted the media has characterized the 13-month extension of unemployment benefits as an afterthought to the two-year extension of the Bush tax rates. He believes this shows that the tax cuts for the wealthy were a bigger prize in the negotiations than extended unemployment insurance.
Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiDems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee Robert Mueller's forgotten surveillance crime spree Clinton: White House slow-walking Russia sanctions MORE (D-Md.) said she was concerned about the proposal to cut payroll taxes that fund Social Security by 2 percentage points.
“The payroll tax, I think we need to be careful of that,” she said. “You can’t have everyone saying, 'We got to reform Social Security, the trust fund is fragile — and, oh by the way, you don’t have to pay into it.'
“I’m concerned that this will be the beginning of the slippery slope of getting rid of the payroll tax” and beginning to privatize Social Security, she added.
Mikulski said she would need to know “a lot more” before deciding how to vote.
The Democratic senators made their comments as they were entering a lunch meeting with Biden to discuss the deal.
Some Democrats defended the deal.
Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), one of the most conservative members of the Democratic conference, said the tax deal is “moving in the right direction.”