President Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod today dismissed the political “symbolism” of holding a vote to extend tax cuts for the middle class, telling TPM the Democrats’ decision to punt on putting the matter to a vote before the election was the Republicans’ fault.
“Our goal is to get these tax cuts passed. If we can’t get it done before the election we’re going to insist on it after,” Axelrod said in response to a TPM question on a White House call arranged for reporters, bloggers and progressive political activists.
As the reporters on the call pressured him further, Axelrod didn’t let up or lay any blame on Democratic leaders who bowed to concerns from members in tough reelection fights.
“I don’t think anybody in America at this point doubts where the president is, where we are, and where the Republican party is. We’ll repeat it every day,” Axelrod said on the call. “The Republican Party is holding hostage tax cuts for the middle class.”
TPM Capitol Hill sources all day have told us privately their bosses feel the same way, and that they only want to vote if it stands a chance at becoming law. Given Senate procedure, and some rules in the House that make it possible for the GOP to derail a vote, Democrats and, apparently, Axelrod, don’t think that’s feasible before Nov. 2.
Never mind that Republicans have been complaining about a lame-duck session, and the winners of three special Senate races will be seated immediately and could seriously gum up any Democratic plans.
But Axelrod said Obama won’t let up, even without a vote, citing GOP obstructionism on even minor issues since the president took office. “We’re going to make it clear every day that those aren’t passed who is blocking them and why,” Axelrod said.
He added, “I don’t think there is going to be any ambiguity about where we stand and where they stand and I am very very confident we will ultimately win this fight because I don’t think American people are going to sit still and allow the Republicans to inflict a tax increase on them in order to facilitate additional tax relief for millionaires and billionaires.”
Axelrod, Obama’s right-hand-man for political advice at the White House and a longtime friend of the president’s, said that his Democratic Party is “going to do far better than people recognize” in the midterm elections if voters understand the choice between the parties.
Axelrod said while there are “aroused” Republican voters, Obama needs his Democratic base to turn out on Nov. 2 even if they are dispirited. Otherwise, “People will wake up on November 3rd saying it’s not the result they wanted.”
He called it the most “consequential” electoral time “in our lifetimes,” and asked the partisan activists griping about White House treatment of the left to “lock arms and move forward.”