This morning, ABC’s Jake Tapper reported that the White House wanted a fight but congressional Dems “wouldn’t throw a punch.” From his story:
The White House has two arguments for what they acknowledge are “frustrated” Democrats:
1) We wanted a fight on these tax cuts, and Congressional Democrats never took up the charge and held a vote;
2) This is a good deal — and we weren’t willing to let taxes go up on middle class Americans, or to deprive the unemployed of insurance benefits, just to prove a political point.
“We wanted a fight, the House didn’t throw a punch,” a senior White House official tells ABC News, pointing out that for months before the 2010 midterm elections, President Obama was making the case against the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans. “The House wouldn’t vote before the Senate, and the Senate was afraid they’d lose a vote on it.”
“It was like the Jets versus Sharks except there weren’t any Jets,” the official said. “Senator Schumer says he wants a fight? He couldn’t hold his caucus together.”
The response from the Hill this morning is indignant, to say the least. From a Senate Democratic aide:
“The White House never wanted a fight. They didn’t urge a vote before the election, and then they tried to stop the votes that were held last week. There were 53 Senate Democrats who voted to hang tough with the position that the President campaigned on; there might have been even more if the White House hadn’t waved the white flag a month ago to the Huffington Post. The administration struck a good deal considering they started the negotiations in a crouch; we’ll never what could have been possible if we’d started out fighting.”
In less than an hour the Senate Democratic caucus will be meeting with Joe Biden as their special punching bag guest. I asked a leadership aide what the questions will be. Would members ask Biden, “What the Hell were you thinking?” No, the aide replied, senators are more likely to tell Biden: “F-you and F-the horse you rode in on.”
Of course all this sturm-and-drang – along with somewhat hollow threats that progressives could bring down this compromise in the House — masks the fact the Dems have gotten a pretty good deal out of this. Essentially, it’s a second stimulus. The numbers in unpaid for spending promise to be eye popping – by my calculation somewhere north of $500 billion — something that I’m sure will please the Tea Party enormously. In the end, Dems will be able to say they’re doing something to help the limping economy and claim bipartisanship — no matter who gets the blame credit.