WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Sunday continued to hold firm on the idea that its framework for a deal on the expiring Bush tax cuts could not be changed in truly tangible ways.
"We have a framework, we have an agreement, and I don't anticipate that it's going to change greatly," White House senior adviser David Axelrod told ABC's "This Week." "There have been some changes that folks in the House were concerned about, the absence of an extension of an energy -- renewable energy tax credit. That is now included in the package. But in the main, I don't see major changes."
Axelrod's resoluteness was, in part, a response to the continued howls of discontent coming from several corners of the Democratic Party. On the Hill, in particular, Friday saw a lengthy (though largely symbolic) filibuster of the tax deal by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the announcement of opposition to the framework by the Congressional Black Caucus, and incoming House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen insisting that Democrats weren't bluffing when they demanded that the White House re-negotiate a provision on the estate tax.
Asked indirectly about Van Hollen's concerns, Axelrod again refused to budge. "The nature of compromise is that you have to accept things that you don't like in order to get things that are very important," he said. "This is a good package for the middle class, this is a good package for the economy."
The White House, as its sternness suggests, does seem to hold the majority of the cards in these negotiations. Provided that House Republicans vote en mass for the tax deal, the president only needs 40-or-so Democratic votes for passage. Even then, there may be an avenue to satisfy both parties. Van Hollen, on Sunday, acknowledged that the party wouldn't stop the entire deal, provided that they put an amendment to the estate tax provision up for a vote.
"We're not going to hold this thing up at the end of the day, but we do think that simple question should be put to the test," he told Fox News Sunday. "We're going to make sure the question is put to the test. We are going to ask the Republicans and others, are they going to block this entire deal, in order to protect $25 billion. That is the question."
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