WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Tuesday staunchly defended his decision to compromise with Republicans and temporarily extend about-to-expire tax cuts for all Americans.

“There are some who would have preferred a protracted political fight,” the president said at a White House news conference a day after the deal was announced. “And I understand the desire for a fight. I’m sympathetic to that.”

Many Democrats in Congress are unhappy about the agreement, but Obama said a long political battle “would be a bad deal for the economy. And it would be a bad deal for the American people.”

Still, he promised a fight during 2012, when the tax cuts would expire again, to make the point that he opposes the Republican position that high-income earners should get the extension, too.

Obama called “tax cuts for the wealthy” the Republicans’ “holy grail.”

“It seems to be their economic doctrine,” Obama added, previewing a likely argument during his expected re-election race in 2012 when tax cuts are all but certain to be a major issue.

With the compromise agreement with Republicans — opposed by many Democrats in Congress — the president gave up a key goal to let Bush-era tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans expire. But he said the deal would stop taxes from rising for middle class Americans, “which is what I promised.”

“It’s a good deal for the American people,” Obama said.

Obama cast his decision to accede to the GOP position on extending the tax cuts in stark terms.

“It’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers — unless the hostage gets hung. Then, people will question the wisdom of that strategy. In this case, the hostage was the American people, and I was not willing to see them get harmed.”

He made a point to note that he long has opposed — and still opposes — keeping tax cuts in place for the sliver of Americans making $200,000 or more a year.

He said the American people agree with his position, but “I haven’t persuaded the Republican Party.” Reflecting the newly increased Republican clout in Congress, he said: “I haven’t persuaded (Senate Republican leader) Mitch McConnell and I haven’t persuaded (House GOP leader) John Boehner.”

Even though Democrats will control both houses of Congress until January, Obama insisted the deal was necessary to ensure enough Republican support in Congress to extend unemployment benefits that also are about to expire, and he said a long, bloody battle with the GOP would be detrimental to recession-weary Americans.

“This isn’t an abstract debate. This is real money for real people,” he said. “This package will help strengthen the recovery. That I’m confident about.”

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (3)
  1. al the 99er says:

    I’m a 99er and have been for what feels like a very very long time .I too have sold everything i had to sell and have borrowed all i can . I feel for all of you out there that are going through what i am going through. we must be strong and accept this humbling time as a grate lesson of how much our government really cares about us. If we work hard and pay in we should be able to reap what we sow. I have worked for more than 11 years without collecting one cent, And i know many people that have worked much longer than I , And now that we need the help the same help that we paid for with our years of payment in to the unemployment insurance, it means nothing .
    99 weeks max to collect is set in but no max on how much we pay in is set .Why is it that after every year our totals means nothing? All we want is to have money to eat, pay our bills, put gas in our cars or have money for the bus to be able to go out and look for work .It is a fact that the monies given back to us will end up in our community , And its a fact that it helps local business so they don’t have to close there doors , and add to the numbers of the unemployed .We paid in shouldn’t it count for something now that we need it .how can we be forgotten if one day you to can be standing in the the same place as I and many hard workers A.K.A the “99ers”stand now .I like many others never expected to be laid off for this long, and neither will you .so please help your fellow man so when the day comes we can help you. All our cries should not be ignored look at how many people are below my comment and above , we all are being hit harder than we believed possible and our monies are still caught up in the red tape… thank you for letting me vent and taking the time to read this from a 99er.

  2. Mario Aleman says:

    “This isn’t an abstract debate. This is real money for real people,” he said. “This package will help strengthen the recovery. That I’m confident about.” – Pres. Obama, 12/07/10


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