Hoyer: No Dem Agreement On Tax Cuts; Deal Could Still Change

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer today expressed serious reservations with the tax cut framework President Obama reached with Senate Republicans, and declined to say whether his caucus would support the plan or even whether the leadership time would whip votes to ensure that it passes. However, Hoyer also chastised Republicans for their willingness to let all the Bush tax cuts expire, suggesting Democrats will figure out a way to assure the President’s plan doesn’t fail entirely — including, perhaps, by making some changes to it.

“There was no consensus or agreement reached by the House leadership,” Hoyer told reporters this morning, reiterating the broad view of the Democratic caucus that “giving tax cuts to high-income Americans is not appropriate.”At a meeting between President Obama and top Democrats yesterday, Obama did not ask his Congressional leaders to whip the plan or to freeze the framework in place.

A wide spectrum of Democrats dislike the plan, though they are relieved to see stimulative measures like an extension of unemployment insurance, and a significant payroll tax holiday for workers. Hoyer acknowledged that Obama was able to secure provisions that have “some merit,” and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted “GOP provisions in [the] tax proposal help only wealthiest 3%, don’t create jobs [and] add tens of billions to deficit.”

Hoyer cited data demonstrating that the House Dems’ position — to allow the top-bracket Bush tax cuts to expire — has broad public support. “[The American people] don’t think it’s an issue about chickenwaste.”

After Hoyer’s press availability, reporters caught up with House Dem Conference Chair John Larson, who hinted that the tax plan might change. The House he said, “always likes to put its own imprimatur on everything that we do.”

Hoyer insisted that the Senate will move first on the legislation, while House leaders discuss the plan with members tonight and over the next several days. And while a number of Senate Democrats have similar reservations about the plan, a Senate Dem aide acknowledged today that this outcome is a bit better than most members were expecting to see.

In the weeks leading up to the failed Senate votes this past Saturday, aides predicted that both the Democratic plan and the GOP plan — permanent extension of the cuts — would prove unworkable, leading to a compromise. Dems at the time insisted they wanted something — an extension of unemployment benefits, for instance — in exchange for extending all the Bush tax cuts temporarily.

“That’s exactly what they got,” said one of those aides.

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