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Democrats demand changes in Obama-GOP tax deal

  • President Barack Obama makes a opening statement during a news conference in the White House briefing room in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Disappointed Democratic congressional leaders demanded changes in the White House's tax deal with Republicans on Tuesday despite a spirited argument by President Barack Obama that concessions were preferable to higher taxes for millions of Americans.

"I'm not here to play games with the American people or the health of the economy," Obama said of his day-old deal, which is designed to avert a scheduled Jan. 1 expiration of tax cuts at all income levels.

In a remarkable political role reversal, Republicans lined up to support the package, while lawmakers of the president's party said they were prepared to oppose it. Liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pledged to "do everything I can to defeat this," including a filibuster to prevent a final vote.

The deal includes an extension of expiring Bush-era tax cuts for all income levels — not just for lower and middle-income taxpayers, as Democrats wanted. It also contains a renewal of jobless benefits due to expire in a few weeks, and a one-year cut in Social Security taxes paid by workers.

Other elements would loosen the estate tax and provide breaks for businesses to spur hiring. Officials said that overall, the proposal could add $900 billion to the federal deficit over two years.


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