Deal reached on tax cuts, jobless

December 7, 2010

By David Eldridge-The Washington Times

Brushing aside calls from his own political base to take a stand, President Obama last night announced a deal with congressional Republicans that will extend expiring Bush-era tax cuts — even those for the wealthiest filers — for two years in exchange for a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits.

The fate of the tax cuts, due to expire Jan. 1, has dominated the lame-duck session of Congress and posed a difficult political challenge for Mr. Obama, who has long favored extending only the lower rates for “middle-class” households making $250,000 a year or less and individual filers earning less than $200,000.

In another victory for Republicans, negotiators agreed to revive the expired federal estate tax, but only for two years at a rate of 35 percent and only for estates worth more than $5 million. Republicans did agree to a White House demand for a one-year reduction in the Social Security payroll tax from the current 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent, a move designed to boost worker paychecks and stimulate the still-struggling economy.

The president, in a brief, somber address to reporters Monday evening in which he took no questions, frankly acknowledged that he was unhappy with parts of the compromise, but argued that an extended partisan stalemate would have hurt American workers and struggling families even more.

“I have no doubt that everyone will find something in this compromise that they don’t like,” the president said in a televised address from the White House. “In fact, there are things in here that I don’t like. … But, sympathetic as I am to those who would prefer a fight over compromise, it would be the wrong thing to do.

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