Reid: Obama’s tax rate extension deal needs more work if he wants Democratic support in Senate

Chris Moody Contributor
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Senate Democrats will not accept President Obama’s negotiated deal with Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax rates in its current form, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid said Tuesday.

“The concerns are wide ranging, some dealing with matters other than taxes, frankly. But we weren’t able to work our way all through this today,” Reid told reporters after Vice President Joseph Biden visited the U.S. Capitol to pitch the president’s plan during a closed door meeting with Democrats. “We’re going to have to do some more work on it.”

The deal, which top Republicans have praised as a bipartisan effort to tackle a wide range of problems and Democrats have blasted as a devastating sign of capitulation, in part will extend the Bush-era tax rates for all for two years, fund unemployment benefits for 13 months and raise the estate tax to 35 percent for assets above $5 million.

After what Reid called a “healthy discussion” with the vice president, Reid said the White House still lacks support on Capitol Hill and made it clear that Obama’s deal was “only a framework.”

“While this is not an arrangement many in the caucus would have made, we understand the president is negotiating with congressional Republicans who are willing to risk everything in order to secure tax cuts for the wealthiest of all Americans,” Reid said.

Reid said that Democrats will hold caucus meetings throughout the week “to hash it out.”

As to how Reid felt personally about the deal, the senator from Nevada declined to say, in “fear it would interfere with some of my caucus doing what they feel is appropriate.” He did, however, relay his dissatisfaction with the estate tax portion of the plan, saying he was “not a big fan of what has been negotiated.”

A number of Democrats, including Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, left the meeting saying they were still unsatisfied with the president’s proposal.

Laura Donovan contributed to this report.

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Chris Moody