Middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts

President Obama on Tuesday strongly defended his tax cut deal with Congressional Republicans against intense criticism from his own party, insisting it was “a good deal for the American people”  states the New York Times

 “I’ve said before that I felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts,” Mr. Obama said. “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. In this case, the hostage was the American people, and I was not willing to see them get harmed.”

While many Democrats in the Senate and House raged against the idea of continuing George W. Bush’s tax policies for two more years — and some voiced serious concerns about adding the $900 billion cost to the deficit — the package seemed likely to win approval provided that Republicans vote for it in big numbers, as party leaders predicted they would.

Even with unanimous Republican support, which is not assured, at least 18 Senate Democrats would need to support the package to overcome a potential filibuster. About a dozen Senate Democrats have voiced a willingness to temporarily extend all of the Bush-era tax rates, given the weak economy. Aides said about 30 were firmly opposed, leaving 16 or so undecided.

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