With the clock ticking on tax increases unless Congress acts this month, President Obama insisted Saturday that his compromise with Republicans is the best deal he could have gotten – and called on members of both political parties to "do the right thing" and pass legislation keeping federal tax rates at the low levels they've been since 2001.
"All told, this will not only directly help families and businesses," the president said in his weekly radio address
. "By putting more money in people's pockets, and helping companies grow, we're going to see people being able to spend a little more, we're going to spur hiring – we're going to strengthen our entire economy."
"It's certainly encouraging to see that President Obama has proposed a potential agreement to stop all the tax hikes scheduled to take effect on January 1," Kristi Noem
, a Republican congresswoman-elect from South Dakota, proclaimed in the GOP weekly address
. "While stopping all the tax hikes would be a good first step, this alone won't eliminate the job-killing uncertainty hanging over our employers and entrepreneurs. That's why we need to focus on cutting spending and reducing the size of government."
Obama taped his speech Friday, the same day liberal Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was protesting
the tax deal in an eight-hour talkathon – and on the day Bill Clinton backed the president
in a fascinating, if somewhat impromptu, news conference of his own from the White House press briefing room. Obama served mostly as a prop for Clinton, albeit a prop that exited stage left on its own power -- leaving the former Democratic president to defend the current Democratic president over sniping from members of their own political party.
As he has for the past week
, Obama expressed solicitude for the liberals' frustration that the 2001 income tax reductions will remain in place for upper-income taxpayers, but he pointed out that if Democratic Party intransigence resulted in gridlock, the Bush tax cuts would lapse on Dec. 31, leaving almost all
Americans with a significantly larger tax liability in the new year.
"If Congress doesn't act, tax rates will automatically go up for just about everyone in our country," the president said. "Typical middle-class families would end up paying an extra $3,000."
"That's unacceptable to me," the president continued. "We know that it's the middle class that was hit the hardest by the recession, [and] taking this money out of the pockets of working people is exactly the wrong thing to do to get our economy growing faster. Economists tell us that this tax hike on working families could actually cost us well over a million jobs."
Obama said that this specter is why he brought Democrats and Republicans together to the negotiating table. Although he did engage in the requisite GOP-bashing – decrying the opposition party's insistence of retaining "permanent tax breaks for the wealthiest taxpayers and the wealthiest estates, most of which would go to millionaires and even billionaires" – the president reiterated
that he was willing to accept those provisions in return for keeping low income tax rates on the middle class and extending the time that jobless Americans can receive unemployment insurance.
"So we hammered out a deal that reflects ideas from both sides," Obama said. "It wasn't easy, and it's by no means perfect. And as with any compromise, everybody had to live with elements they didn't like. But this is a good deal for the American people."
"Now, I recognize that many of my friends in my own party are uncomfortable with some of what's in this agreement, in particular the temporary tax cuts for the wealthy," Obama added. "And I share their concerns . . . But at the same time, we cannot allow the middle class in this country to be caught in the political crossfire of Washington. People want us to find solutions, not score points. And I will not allow middle-class families to be treated like pawns on a chessboard."