A leader of an 80-plus member bloc of House liberals suggested Wednesday that Democrats should let the GOP-led House handle the expiring Bush-era tax cuts and unemployment benefits next year.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said such a move would force Republicans into deciding whether or not they want to take two potentially unpopular stances during their first month in power.
"Let them tell the unemployed they won't get benefits. Let them tell [the middle class their taxes are going up]," he said on MSNBC.
Grijalva's comments are the latest salvo from House Democrats, who have sparred with the White House over the tax-cut deal it struck with Republicans in Congress.
Liberals are upset the accord contains a two-year extension of the high-end tax cuts as well as the middle-class provisions. In exchange, the White House would receive a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits and a 2 percent cut in the payroll tax next year.
Republicans have said they would renew the unemployment benefits if they are paid for and would extend the middle-class cuts only if coupled with an extension of the cuts for families whose income is more than $250,000 and individuals whose income is more than $200,000.
President Obama struck the deal in the hope of avoiding what Grijalva described as letting Republicans handle the tax cuts. Some Democrats fear a Republican-controlled House would pass a more unfavorable deal and likewise would prefer to get done what they can during the lame-duck session.
The White House on Wednesday put part of the blame for the deal on Capitol Hill Democrats, saying they were unable to coalesce around a single plan. That attitude has sparked complaints from Democrats that the White House failed to consult them on the compromise.