Last Thursday in our House Democratic caucus meeting, I was proud of my fellow Democrats for voting against the current tax cut compromise. We voiced what most people know: This was a bad deal and is worse policy.
Because right now the bill is not a "compromise" -- it's a mistake.
I agree with President Obama's comment that pushing through an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for millionaires is the Republicans' "holy grail." They've been perfectly clear that they won't accept any compromise that doesn't include billions in tax bonuses for the wealthy.
But we've been letting them use that as a cudgel, trying to bully us into accepting a bad compromise -- rather than forcing that to be their albatross, and using their unwavering commitment to a deficit-busting tax bonus for the wealthy as a bargaining chip to get Americans a better deal.
And that is what this all comes down to, really: We demand a better bill.
I understand that an acceptable compromise might include some form of tax cuts for wealthier Americans. But, if we give in on that, then we certainly shouldn't give in on the estate tax, and we shouldn't give in on a payroll tax holiday (which is the keystone in the foundation of our Social Security safety net).
Instead we should be pushing to include money to invest in clean energy technology, education, and infrastructure improvements -- the things we know create jobs right now and put us on the path to economic prosperity.
Because the reality is, even while the Republicans were trying to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage, they want them. They need them. And they know it. But Republicans also know that each time they can convince Democrats to accept the bare minimum, each time they win a one-sided "compromise", we start the next negotiation that much weaker.
With our vote against this compromise, we fired a shot heard around the political world. We have the strength of the American people behind us, and we're not going to be bullied into accepting less than they deserve.
Finally, I want to say something about this media obsession that our caucus vote is us "thumbing our nose" at the President. That's ridiculous. We're a team. We're all trying to get to the same end zone. And the President is our quarterback.
Now, I used to play a little quarterback back in the day, and when my left tackle would come back to the huddle and tell me, "Hey -- we can block these guys. We can get the first down," I'd listen. And that's what we're telling the President now: We can block these guys. We can do this. With the power of our convictions, clear public support, his political skill, and the Presidential veto, we can get a better bill.
Thank you for being in our corner in this fight.
I'll be around now for about an hour to answer questions and discuss this issue further.