WASHINGTON -- The deal that President Barack Obama has cut to extend the Bush-era tax cuts in full has produced a number of bizarre alliances, with former Bush economists touting Paul Krugman's blog posts and White House officials catering to politically-temperamental Republicans.
The strangest of them all, however, may be the marriage of convenience that has developed between congressional Democrats and Charles Krauthammer.
Last week, the conservative Washington Post columnist wrote a piece arguing that the GOP got hosed in the final tax-cut arrangement -- agreeing to a bevy of Democrat-favored tax cuts and an unemployment insurance extension when they had the president on the ropes. Krauthammer was telling Republicans to kill the package. Instead, he gave the White House's allies a vehicle to bring skeptical Democrats on board.
On Monday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) predicted that the lower chamber would pass tax-cut legislation. The package may differ from Obama's proposed compromise, Hoyer said, citing the estate tax as a possible hurdle for the Senate, but he remained vague on details.
Hoyer made sure, however, that everyone in the room knew what Krauthammer had written. The Maryland Democrat invoked Krauthammer's name twice during a speech at the National Press Club while arguing that the tax deal had strong merits.
"We don't think that the proposal dealing with upper income or the estate tax are useful in trying to get a handle on our debt. Having said that, taking a hit, everybody in the legislative process takes a hit," Hoyer said. "Krauthammer apparently believes the Republicans took a hit, a pretty big hit according to Charles Krauthammer."
The majority leader acknowledged ongoing Democratic anger with the deal as outlined, saying, "I think some of us would like to change it." But he sounded unconvinced that the House would substantially alter the package once the Senate sends their version back sometime this week.
"If they do so, we'll have votes on those amendments. I say 'if,'" he said. "I think we'll pass a bill as opposed to simply not passing anything."