WASHINGTON -- Just minutes after we reported a potential tax cut deal between Republicans and the White House, the first congressional Democrat is out urging his colleagues to submarine the deal.
Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) circulated a letter to his colleagues urging them to oppose the deal on grounds that it is "fiscally irresponsible." Addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the letter reads as follows:
We oppose acceding to Republican demands to extend the Bush tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires for two reasons.
First, it is fiscally irresponsible. Adding $700 billion to our national debt, as this proposal would do, handcuffs our ability to offer a balanced plan to achieve fiscal stability without a punishing effect on our current commitments, including Social Security and Medicare.
Second, it is grossly unfair. This proposal will hurt, not help, the majority of Americans in the middle class and those working hard to get there. Even as Republicans seek to add $700 billion to our national debt, they oppose extending unemployment benefits to workers and resist COLA increases to seniors.
Without a doubt, the very same people who support this addition to our debt will oppose raising the debt ceiling to pay for it.
We support extending tax cuts in full to 98 percent of American taxpayers, as the President initially proposed. He should not back down. Nor should we.
A staffer for the congressman said that he was sending the letter to all Democratic offices and would be announcing co-signatories likely tomorrow. Opposition to the measure within the halls of Congress is abundantly clear. The Huffington Post's Howard Fineman reported that House Democrats could pose a problem for a potential deal over the weekend. And a "Democratic congressional source" told CNN on Monday that "we won't rubber stamp a deal between the White House and [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell...we want to make it clear. Don't take our support for granted."
That said, the likelihood the final deal doesn't get enough votes for passage seems far-fetched. For starters, if all Republicans vote for the package, only 40 Democratic votes would be needed. The Blue Dog coalition could provide that. Moreover, Pelosi, who ostensibly signed off on the deal, could muster up the votes to help push it through.
UPDATE: A House Democrat aide emails the Huffington Post the following:
House Democrats haven't agreed to anything yet. Any package needs to be thoroughly reviewed and discussed in the caucus.