Vermont Congressman Peter Welch’s letter opposing Obama-GOP deal to extend Bush-era tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires has now attracted support from almost three dozen House Democrats, including committee chairs, leaders of major caucuses and key players on economic issues.
Welch’s letter is not the only vehicle for Congressional opposition to the agreement between President Obama and Republican Congressional leaders to extend tax breaks for billionaires and create a broad estate-tax exemption for millionaires. But it has become a focus of progressive organizing to block a deal that Welch has been out front in decrying as "fiscally irresponsible" and "grossly unfair."
Despite a full-court press by the White House political team (which is now trying to blame Congressional Democrats for flaws in the deal) and the Democratic National Committee to promote the deal, Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee calculates that the number of calls to Congressional offices urging opposition to the deal now numbers in the tens of thousands.
In addition to PCCC, MoveOn, Democracy for America and Credo Action are pushing progressives to call. But Welch and other House members suggest that the opposition they’re hearing—on the phones, in e-mails and in meetings with constituents—appears to be coming from across the political spectrum. (Sarah Palin has criticized the compromise, while South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, a leading conservative Republican, is threatening a filibuster to block the deal. This has stirred talk that DeMint and Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who has talked about doing everything he can to block the deal, could end up mounting a right-left challenge in the upper chamber.)
The Welch letter remains the key vehicle for quantifying opposition, however.
It lays out a clear argument to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to say "no deal," with members declaring:
"We oppose acceding to Republican demands to extend the Bush tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires for two reasons.
"First, it is fiscally irresponsible. Adding $700 billion to our national debt, as this proposal would do, handcuffs our ability to offer a balanced plan to achieve fiscal stability without a punishing effect on our current commitments, including Social Security and Medicare.
"Second, it is grossly unfair. This proposal will hurt, not help, the majority of Americans in the middle class and those working hard to get there. Even as Republicans seek to add $700 billion to our national debt, they oppose extending unemployment benefits to workers and resist COLA increases to seniors.