Campaigner in Chief Holds “Pep Rally” to Discuss Status of Fiscal Cliff Deal

Leah Barkoukis

12/31/2012 4:10:00 PM - Leah Barkoukis

If you watched Obama’s comments this afternoon you would not be remiss to think it was actually a campaign event. Obama came out, flanked by ‘middle class Americans’ or what Twitchy aptly referred to as a “human rainbow,” and played the blame game all while reminding Americans Republicans that he won the election. Oh, and the “middle class taxpayers” repeatedly applauding when Obama took shots at Congress for its inaction thus far really helped set the pep rally vibe, too. GOP lawmakers weren’t thrilled with the comments, either:

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said President Obama likely lost votes for the deficit-reduction deal because of the “pep rally” he chose to hold Monday.

“I just listened to the president and my heart is still pounding,” Corker said on the floor Monday minutes after Obama called on Congress to finish work on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

“I was very disappointed to hear what the president had to say in front of a prep rally," he said. “I know the president has fun heckling Congress, but I think he probably lost a number of votes with this.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he couldn't understand why Obama would mock Republicans in the midst of delicate talks. 

"What did the president of the United States just do?" McCain said. "He sent a message of confrontation to Republicans."

"I guess I have to wonder — and I think the American people have to wonder — whether the president really wants this issue resolved, or is it to his short-term political benefit to go over the cliff?"

Campaigner in chief, indeed.

As The Hill’s post goes on to mention, “several Republican operatives” took to Twitter to ask why Obama “would hit the GOP as Vice President Biden and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell appear to be closing in on a deal to prevent looming tax hikes and spending cuts set to begin in January.” The talks between Biden and McConnell have resulted in key tax provisions as they continue working on a compromise. National Journal outlines these provisions:

·Income tax rates would go up to Clinton-era rates on individuals making more than $400,000 and families making more than $450,000. The Bush-era tax cuts would be made permanent for everyone under that threshold. Those below the threshold would see a permanent 15 percent capital gains and dividends rate, and those above the rate would pay 20 percent.  

·The estate tax would be exempted on the first $5 million, and assets over that amount would be taxed at 40 percent. Current law exempts the first $5 million and taxes the rest at 35 percent, but that expires today and reverts to 55 percent tax rates on assets more than $1 million on Jan. 1.

·A permanent "patch" for the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was meant to make sure millionaires paid their fair share of taxes, but which has increasingly ensnared the middle class.

·A five-year extension on the American Opportunity Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Earned Income Tax Credit.

·Democrats and Republicans are still working on how to prevent across-the-board spending cuts that begin next year.