The Obama administration is not budging from its position that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy should be allowed to expire this year and is taking subtle jabs at conservative Democrats who argue otherwise.
In a briefing with a small group of reporters on Friday, a senior administration official encouraged Blue Dog Democrats in the House to remember that they have been the ones barking about exploding deficits for the past three cycles.
"I don't think there is any Blue Dog Democrat that is coming out against extending tax cuts for people up to $250,000 a year," said the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity. "And I would say to anyone, one of the things I appreciate about the Blue Dogs is that they have been so assiduous about reminding us about the dangers of this deficit. And so I would urge them to stand, and anyone to stand with us, for some fiscal responsibility here."
The remark was offered playfully, if not with a bit of chiding. In recent days a host of Blue Dogs have pushed the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass at least a temporary extension of all Bush tax cuts until the economy finds stronger footing. The president hasn't budged, arguing that it would be fiscally irresponsible to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy, and morally wrong to allow the rates for those making under $250,000 to rise at year's end (they will by law).
Even a temporary extension has been viewed skeptically by the administration, which is wary that it would result in the can being kicked down the road in perpetuity. And in the briefing on Friday, the senior administration official predicted confidently that they will get the measure to a vote, either in this session or "after the election."
"It is a spurious argument to suggest that we should go ahead with budget-busting tax cuts because somehow it is better for our economy. It would be better for our economy if we moved forward with the middle class tax cuts and allow the others to expire," the official said. "The truth is, the Republican Party... they have made clear that their goal is to extend this permanently. And I think that they will encourage this as a means of biding time until the next vote."