Obama comment sparks liberal group launch of Hostage Prevention Initiative

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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President Barack Obama’s decision to call Republicans “hostage-takers” in the Bush tax cut extension debate caused the liberal group Coalition on Human Needs to launch the “Hostage Prevention Initiative.

The Coalition’s president, Deborah Weinstein, told The Daily Caller the initiative is meant to push politicians to help out lower-income people around the country instead of cutting taxes for upper-income people.

“We are urging people to sign up if they are sick and tired of this kind of deal putting on the backs of unemployed people and working people,” Weinstein said. “The unemployed were held hostage to the deal that’s being worked in Congress right now. Over the years, you see this over and over again.”

Weinstein told TheDC that the Coalition on Human Needs supports Obama’s compromise with Republicans in the sense that it got something done, but she said she hopes it will be improved in the coming days to assist lower-income people more.

In a Huffington Post column, Weinstein argued in support of Obama’s compromise because she said the deal contained “urgently needed” provisions, such as the $56 million in federal unemployment assistance. She also defended some of the deal’s other components:

“The Obama negotiators also protected other important help for the lowest-income families with children. Improvements made in the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will continue. A full time working parent with two children and earning minimum wage now gets about $1,725 from the CTC,” Weinstein wrote. “If the current level expires, that family’s credit drops to about $225. Increases in the EITC for families with three or more children and for married parents also continue under the plan, as does the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides tuition assistance for low-income college students.”

Weinstein told TheDC the Coalition on Human Needs plans to keep the Hostage Prevention Initiative alive into the future, long after the tax cut debate is over.

“The point is, if the deal goes through, these are two-year extensions of tax cuts, and the president says he wants the extension of tax cuts to stay at two years,” Weinstein said in a phone interview. “We take him at his word.”