12/08/2010 11:58 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

David Axelrod: Americans Would Have Gotten 'Screwed' Without Tax Cut Deal (VIDEO)

Senior White House adviser David Axelrod hit the morning show circuit Wednesday to defend Obama's tax cuts deal and to explain what the administration saw as the high stakes that prompted the final negotiations.

"I say the people who are going to get screwed [... ] are the American people if we don't act to prevent their taxes from going up January 1." Axelrod told CNN's "American Morning."

"Compromise by its very nature involves things that neither side like," Axelrod continued. "We don't like extending even temporarily the tax cuts for the wealthy, more generous treatment of wealthy estates, that was the price Republicans demanded for a very significant package of tax cuts for the middle class and tax cuts to help businesses grow and hire."

Axelrod went on, claiming that the White House was prepared to continue the debate against some of the Republican provisions in the agreement in the future, but that it could no longer delay action on extending tax cuts for the middle class and reauthorizing unemployment benefits.

"Nobody can tell you that it would end better than this compromise," Axelrod said. "There's no end game to this and in the interim taxes would go up, people would lose their unemployment insurance and the economy would suffer."

On ABC's "Good Morning America" Wednesday, Axelrod said that increasing negativity from both Democrats and Republicans over various aspects of the package and the threats that they'd work to block it would amount to playing "Russian roulette with the lives of the American people."

"The framework of the deal is in place," Axelrod told George Stephanopoulos. "Republicans essentially traded away everything in the package for tax cuts for the wealthy temporarily and this more generous treatment of estates. We don't like it, but what we got in exchange was significant tax relief for the middle class, an extension of unemployment insurance for people who have lost their jobs in this down economy."


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