South Carolina’s James Clyburn, the third ranking Democrat in the House, appeared overwhelmed with joy. He proclaimed:
“So here we are on New Year’s night, with the clock running out on the very existence of this Congress, finally considering bipartisan legislation to provide middle class tax cuts, require the wealthiest to, once again, pay their fair share so we can grow the economy, create jobs and protect the most vulnerable in our society.”
The twenty-year House veteran appeared convinced that deal crafted less than 24 hours earlier satisfied President Obama’s “fair share” campaign promise.
Mr. Clyburn was not alone, though. Moments before returning to his Hawaiian vacation, President Obama reminded bleary eyed Americans that “a central promise” of his campaign “was to change the tax code that was too skewed towards the wealthy.” Rather definitively, he added, “Tonight we've done that.”
You can see why Republicans like Michigan’s Dave Camp dared to hope this would be the end of President Obama’s class warfare rhetoric. Camp, who also serves as Ways and Means chairman, explained, “now that we have permanently settled how much revenue the government is going to take out of the economy” we can proceed with “comprehensive tax reform.”
Not every Democrat agreed with President Obama and Mr. Clyburn, though.
Louise Slaughter, a New Yorker to the left of Nancy Pelosi, was infuriated because the deal “protects too many wealthy Americans.” Although she ultimately voted for the bill, this distant relative of Daniel Boone was helping to blaze a trail for the Democrats’ continued push to raise taxes.
Perhaps it was because of the late hour, but Mr. Camp’s counterpart on the Ways and Means Committee and fellow Michigander Sander Levin made clear more tax increases were on the way.
Despite “achieving the President’s goal of asking the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to pay more,” Levin said, “The President has made clear there has to be a balanced approach, and no one should be misled into thinking otherwise, no one.” In his eyes, the bill set an “important precedent…in terms of additional revenues…”
Heck, even President Obama doesn’t really agree with himself. In a video to supporters, he promised to pursue a big balanced bargain that “asks the wealthiest Americans to contribute and pay their fair share.”