RAW STORY UPDATE: Bernie Sanders, the only avowed socialist in the United States Senate, has hinted that he will filibuster the tax cuts extension deal President Barack Obama struck with Republicans on Monday.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s Ed Schultz Show, Sanders, the junior senator from Vermont, said, “I’ve got to tell you, I will do whatever I can to see that 60 votes are not acquired to pass this piece of legislation.”
While that doesn’t amount to a firm commitment to filibuster, Sanders’ mention of 60 votes — the number needed to overcome a filibuster — is telling.
“I think it is an absolute disaster and an insult to the vast majority of the American people,” Sanders told Schultz, adding that Democrats opposed to the deal “are right. We’re talking about social justice. They’re talking about more tax breaks for billionaires who don’t need it.”
[Sanders] said Monday that he believes Democrats should stand up to the GOP and the White House in the tax debate. “I think we’ve got to hold tough on this, hold firm on this, and not concede to Republicans, who, as you indicated, have absolutely no inclination to compromise,” he told Schultz.
Whether Sanders can be persuaded to not try to block the bill remains unclear: Vice President Joseph Biden is scheduled to attend Senate Democrats’ luncheon Tuesday to defend the agreement, which Obama cut in secret talks with the GOP.
ORIGINAL AP STORY FOLLOWS BELOW
Brushing past Democratic opposition, President Barack Obama announced agreement with Republicans Monday night on a plan to extend expiring income tax cuts for all Americans, renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and grant a one-year reduction in Social Security taxes.
The emerging agreement also includes tax breaks for businesses that the president said would contribute to the economy’s recovery from the worst recession in eight decades.
Obama’s announcement marked a dramatic reversal of his long-held insistence, originally laid out in his 2008 campaign, that tax cuts should only be extended at incomes up to $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples. He explained his about-face by saying that he still opposed the move and noted the agreement called for a temporary, two-year extension of cuts at all income levels, not the permanent renewal that Republicans have long sought.
At the same time, it signaled the arrival of a new era of divided government following midterm elections in which Republicans won control of the House and strengthened their hand in the Senate.