President Barack Obama is facing a powerful backlash from his own party for a proposed debt bargain that Democrats see as Obama handing a major victory to Republicans without preserving Democratic priorities.
A cascade of Democrats expressed their anger yesterday at a deal that would sharply cut spending and restructure Medicare and Social Security while deferring any decisions about changing the tax code to increase revenue. While Obama has said that an increase in revenue would be part of the package, congressional Democrats believe he was ceding the debate to Republicans by letting spending cuts take precedence without repealing tax breaks to spread the burden to the wealthiest Americans.
When "we heard these reports of these mega-trillion-dollar cuts with no revenues, it was like Mount Vesuvius. . . . Many of us were volcanic," said U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., characterized the proposal as giving Republicans, particularly the Tea Party, "everything they want but yet and still takes away from those who are our most vulnerable," a criticism that was also voiced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev..
"The president always talked about balance, that there had to be some fairness in this, that this can't be all cuts. There has to be a balance. There has to be some revenue and cuts. My caucus agrees with that," Reid told reporters. "I hope that the president sticks with that. I'm confident that he will."
Obama is seeking a provision that would allow the Bush era tax cuts on the nation's top earners to expire while Boehner has proposed repealing the new health care law's universal insurance mandate, both positions that in the past have been cherished by their respective parties and categorically rejected by the opposition.
Part of the furor could be misplaced or an effort to influence the final shape of the plan, as the potential deal is still in its nascent stages and details have yet to be worked out. White House Budget Director Jack Lew reassured Democrats that revenue increases would have to be part of a deal, and the New York Times reported that the Bush tax cuts could still be included.
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