A group of congressional liberals being that include Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) teamed up with President Obama to kill tax cut deal that would have given hundreds of billions of dollars to the wealthy and corporations.
“Everyone felt that Reid had suddenly given the store to Republicans and not gotten much in return,” said a Democratic House aide.
The president, with liberal Democratic backing on the Hill, issued the veto threat and the plan imploded, making the tax deal the first major collateral damage of the White House’s immigration action.
We should go back to the drawing board,” said Michigan Rep. Sander Levin, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee. Those concerns were echoed in public by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who sits on the tax-writing Finance Committee and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
A few hours after White House aides spoke with Senate Finance, Obama himself called Wyden to tell him he’d made a decision: He’d veto the deal.
Sens. Reid and Schumer tried to do an end run around President Obama and congressional liberals and got caught. Sen. Bernie Sanders called the plan to give corporations more tax breaks crazy, “This tax cut agreement does exactly the wrong things. At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, it extends huge tax cuts to the rich and large corporations while threatening programs that help low-income children. At a time when we need to reverse climate change and aggressively move to sustainable energy, this agreement fails to eliminate tax benefits for the fossil fuel industry but phases out tax credits for wind and solar. This is pretty crazy stuff. I strongly support the president’s decision to veto it.”
With the red state Democrats out of the Senate, liberals are going to gain power and influence. The entire Senate Democratic caucus doesn’t need to be unified to uphold a presidential veto. It’s now clear that President Obama is working with the congressional liberals to fence in what the Republican congressional majority will be able to accomplish.
Obama won’t have much trouble gathering up votes to sustain a veto as long as Republicans try to pass through wildly unpopular legislation. A smaller Democratic caucus in both the House and Senate does give the president more flexibility when it comes to working with his fellow Democrats. The liberal Hell No caucus is already flexing their muscles. The blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline, and the killing of tax cuts for corporations were only the beginning.
The Republican fantasy of a congress that could challenge Obama has gone up in smoke. If the White House continues to work with congressional liberals, Boehner and McConnell will be pinched in and complaining about their inability to get anything done in a matter of weeks.
The shoe is sliding over to the other foot as Mitch McConnell is about to get a taste of his own medicine.