A Democratic lawmaker said President Barack Obama is warning members of his party that failure on the tax deal would doom his presidency, igniting plenty of chatter while earning a staunch rebuke from the White House.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said Wednesday on CNN the president is furiously making phone calls to whip up support for the tax cut compromise struck he struck with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
“The White House is putting on tremendous pressure, making phone calls. The president is making phone calls saying this is the end of his presidency if he doesn’t get this bad deal,” DeFazio told Eliot Spitzer on “Parker/Spitzer.”
The White House forcefully denied DeFazio’s charge.
“The president hasn’t said anything remotely like that and has never spoken with Mr. DeFazio about the issue,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Hill.
DeFazio admitted on CNN he hadn’t personally spoken to the president, but said the information was relayed to him from “one member who had that call.”
Regardless, it’s an argument Obama is said to have used during the health care debate, after months of wrangling led to a last-ditch attempt by the White House to pick off just enough recalcitrant Democrats to squeeze the reform legislation through.
The signature achievement, he reportedly told House Democrats at the time, would be vital to cementing his status as a reformer who can achieve big things.
Now, enacting legislation on taxes is necessary to prevent a tax increase on all Americans starting Jan. 1, which Obama would likely be blamed for. Republicans are all but certain to brand him a tax-hiker during his 2012 re-election bid, which could also spell political danger for Congressional Democrats on the stump that year.
The compromise — which House Democrats aren’t pleased with — includes a two-year extension of all the Bush-era tax rates, 13-month continuation of unemployment benefits, and reductions in the estate tax and payroll tax.
The Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure on Wednesday, and the House may vote on it as early as Thursday. House Democrats appear ready to come to terms with the deal, but will likely seek some changes.
This video is from CNN, broadcast December 15, 2010