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Tax-cut deal now taking fire from both sides as Republicans speak out

After House Democrats revolt over the compromise plan to extend tax cuts, GOP Sen. Jim DeMint voices opposition to the deal and Sen. John McCain tweets his displeasure while later saying he would still support it.

December 10, 2010|By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Influential Senate Republicans are signaling their unease with the fragile accord reached between the White House and GOP leaders on the tax cut deal that will come to a vote on Monday afternoon.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) sent an e-mail to supporters Friday headlined "Why I oppose the deal," and outlining his objections.

DeMint, who emerged as a leader in the "tea party" movement this year, said his chief concerns are that the extension of the Bush tax cuts are only temporary, and that the package includes no spending reductions to offset other proposed tax cuts.

"We've known for years that these tax rates were going to expire," DeMint writes. "Now Americans are being told they have to accept hundreds of billions in new spending and stimulus gimmicks, an increase the death tax, and a bunch of unnecessary earmarks or their taxes will go up."

"I'm not going to be bullied into voting for things that will hurt our country because politicians in Washington ignored the problem until it was a crisis," he concludes.

The tax cut accord announced Monday already has a problem in the House, after the Democratic caucus denounced the deal in a nonbinding voice vote.

The product of negotiations between the White House and a group of four lawmakers from both parties and chambers of Congress, the deal does have the tentative support of Senate and House Republican leadership, and was introduced in the Senate late Thursday by Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Still, many Democrats have been either noncommittal or outright hostile, and now the GOP's right flank is weighing in.

In addition to DeMint's opposition, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a Twitter message Friday that he has "serious concerns" with some provisions and objected to deals he said were being cut for "special interests."

He later added that despite his concerns, he would support the deal because "Americans can't afford tax increases."

In an interview with NPR that aired Friday, President Obama stood by the framework he announced earlier in the week and expressed optimism it would move forward.

"My sense is, is that there are going to be discussions between both House and Senate leadership about all the final elements of the package," he said. "I'm confident that we're going to be able to get this resolved by the end of the month."

Seeking to rally support, the White House has released a steady stream of endorsements from elected officials of all stripes, including mayors and governors.

"We have stipulated this is an imperfect agreement," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday morning. "There are aspects of this that you have heard the president campaign against for four years. We agree that there are things in here we don't like, as I'm sure there are things that the other side doesn't like. But the nature of a compromise is, in this case it averts tax increases on the middle class beginning the 1st of January."

mmemoli@tribune.com

twitter.com/mikememoli

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