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House Leaders Criticize, but Don’t Object to Tax Deal

House Democratic leaders criticized a compromise on tax cuts outlined Monday by President Barack Obama, but stopped short of saying they would oppose it.

“The Republican demands would provide tax cuts to the millionaires and billionaires, fail to create jobs and increase the deficit,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday. The California Democrat accused the GOP of holding the middle-class hostage. “And to add insult to injury, the Republican estate tax proposal would help only 39,000 of America’s richest families, while adding about $25 billion more to the deficit.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that the deal would be discussed with the Democratic Caucus this evening, and said both Obama and Congressional Democrats were in a difficult position. Either pay the GOP’s ransom demands — tax cuts for upper-income Americans — or let middle-class taxpayers and the economy pay the price in January if all of the tax cuts and unemployment benefits expire.

The Maryland Democrat said there was no consensus or agreement among House Democratic leaders Monday night as they met with Obama on the deal. Obama laid out the framework at a news conference Monday evening after looping Democrats in on its specifics.

Hoyer pointed to polls showing that most Republicans, Democrats and independents do not support extending tax cuts for upper-income Americans.

Those people “don’t believe this is an issue about chicken waste,” Hoyer said, in an apparent reference to Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) calling the Democratic tax cut bill “chicken crap” last week.

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