The two main Democratic arguments in favor of the accepting the tax cut deal are:
- It will provide stimulus for the economy;
- By extending unemployment benefits and tax cuts for those making under $250K it will reduce the "collateral damage" on millions of Americans.
This argument is not without merit, and real progressive sympathy. When presenting it yesterday, President Obama wrapped it up in a hostage crisis analogy
"I think it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers, unless the hostage gets harmed, then people will question the wisdom of that strategy," Obama said."In this case the hostage was the American people and I was not willing to see them get harmed."
At one juncture, Obama extended the hostage-taking metaphor by talking about escorting the American people to a "safe place" where they might be protected from the political crossfire.
The problem is, this deal does not free the hostages, and escort them to a safe place. This is because, at a minimum, the deal does not raise the debt ceiling.
According to current projections, Congress will have to vote on raising the debt ceiling in late March, or else the whole country goes into default. At that time, Republicans could--and likely will--take the entire country hostage. After their successful hostage taking on the tax cuts, in exchange for raising the debt ceiling preventing default, they could demand spending cuts that will far exceed any of the stimulus in this deal, or exceed any collateral damage caused by not doing this deal.
Further, raising the debt ceiling was actually on the table during the negotiations on the tax cut deal, according to several congressional aides involved in the process. That raising the debt ceiling did not appear in the final deal, and that Mitch McConnell is now saying that "the agreement is essentially final," is a clear sign that Republicans are not going to just go along with raising the debt ceiling in late March, and will once again engage in hostage taking.
Representative Peter Welch, who is a leader of the opposition to the deal among House Democrats, specifically mentioned the debt ceiling issue in his response to President Obama’s press conference (from a press release received over email):
"Before the ink is dry on this deal, the Republican leaders who demanded its passage will vilify the President as a reckless spender who just added a trillion dollars to the national debt. Then they will vote against raising the debt ceiling."
At an absolute minimum, if Republicans do not agree to raising the debt ceiling as part of this deal, then they are negotiating in bad faith. Until raising the debt ceiling becomes part of the deal, then the deal has no stimulus, no reduction in collateral damage, and no hostages have been freed.
Say no to the deal. Sign the petition supporting the Democrats opposing the deal.