Newspaper article Roll Call

Quiet Discontent among Senate Democrats

Newspaper article Roll Call

Quiet Discontent among Senate Democrats

Article excerpt

Senate Democrats were eerily subdued Monday as details of an emerging deal leaked from White House and Republican officials, but the quiet masked the disgruntlement, not just from liberals but also more moderate members up for re-election in 2014.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. - who in the year's closing hours left much of the negotiating to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. - waited almost the entire day before calling members together to review the details of their proposal. And when he did, he invited Biden to sell it to his restless membership. Reid also has not indicated whether he could support the plan, which began to take shape early in the morning.

Given that Democrats were widely considered to have been in the position of leverage, several members and aides privately grumbled that the White House had ceded too much ground in not sticking to its promises to allow taxes to rise on those making more than $250,000. Adding to the displeasure was the president's failure to secure perhaps the biggest chit Democrats wanted: a way forward on the debt ceiling.

"As I see this thing developing - quite frankly, as I've said before - no deal is better than a bad deal, and this looks like a very bad deal, the way this is shaking up," Sen. Tom Harkin, D- Iowa, said on the floor Monday. "If you're making more than $250,000, you're not middle class. You're the top 2 percent of income earners in America."

"This is one point in time where decisions that are made on this so-called deal, decisions that are made could lock in for the next 10 years what kind of a country we're going to be, what kind of a society we're going to be," Harkin continued. "So we better be darned careful."

In July, all but two members who caucus with Senate Democrats voted for a symbolic measure that would let expire tax breaks for those with incomes more than $250,000. The two members who opposed it are both retiring. Yet White House officials seemed to indicate Monday that Senate Democrats had weakened their hand in the tax debate. …

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