The passage by the House this afternoon of an extension of the Bush middle class tax cuts along with a tax increase for higher income earners amount to a nose thumbing by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the direction of President Obama, who is trying to pretend he wants Republicans and Democrats to make nice and agree on a compromise.
The White House suitably thumbed its nose right back with a lukewarm statement by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, barely mentioning that Obama “applauds” the bill. He indeed supports the policy, but the legislation is a distraction from getting a deal with the GOP and ensuring that Obama starts his vacation on time.
The bill has no chance of passing the Senate, and is purely symbolic.
Here is the Gibbs statement.
The President continues to believe that extending middle class tax cuts is the most important thing we can do for our economy right now and he applauds the House for passing a permanent extension. But, because Republicans have made it clear that they won’t pass a middle class extension without also extending tax cuts for the wealthy, the President has asked Director Lew and Secretary Geithner to work with Congress to find a way forward. Those discussions started just yesterday and are continuing this afternoon. The talks are ongoing and productive, but any reports that we are near a deal in the tax cuts negotiations are inaccurate and premature.
Well, I’ve seen many statements over the years that a deal was not at hand, only to find out later that a deal WAS at hand. Such statements are designed to take the pressure off of negotiators who might feel forced to live up to expectations and not potentially take the option of talking longer.
Such activities lead me to wonder if there is trouble in Obama-Pelosi paradise. Obama last month seemed to me to be hedging in his support for her as insurgent Democrats mounted a challenge to her rule during the Election Day Massacre aftermath.
Look for relations to worsen, as Obama covets a more moderate image and seeks Republican support to help him pass legislation. This could get nasty and fun.