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Liberal Groups Turn Their Ire Toward Obama

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MoveOn.org has become an expert noise-maker on behalf of liberal causes. But this week’s tax deal between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans has the group charged up to protest the White House.

Payne said Obama already had lost much of his financial support from Wall Street donors who helped boost his campaign coffers in 2008 after he signed into law a measure imposing tougher regulations on financial institutions. Now with the tax deal, she said, the president stands to lose his liberal donors.

“I’m not sure what major funders he goes back to,” she said.

Nita Chaudhary, national campaigns director at MoveOn, said Obama will have a harder time rallying liberals in the future.

“He cannot count on the support of the progressive base, no questions asked,” she said.

Labor unions, which have also provided substantial financial support for Democratic lobbying and political campaigns, expressed similar dismay with the tax deal. Their statements were largely critical of Republicans and did not mention Obama.

“This tax cut deal rewards Republican obstructionism by giving the wealthy the tax breaks they demand,” a statement from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.

While the union opposed extending tax cuts for upper-income people, it did support the extension of unemployment benefits that the White House made part of the package. But in his statement, Trumka said, “Gains for the middle class and jobless workers in the deal come at too high a price.”

Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry blamed Republicans and Wall Street executives for the tax compromise.

“It’s already clear that Wall Street and corporate CEOs got exactly what they paid for when they bought the Republican Party,” Henry said in a statement. “CEOs and the wealthiest Americans get rewarded with millions more in tax breaks to pad their already hefty profits and bonuses while the American people get fewer jobs and increased hardship.”

Even though business groups were not thrilled by every aspect of the compromise, they viewed it as sufficient to eliminate uncertainty in the near future among their membership that taxes would not increase.

In a statement, Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Bruce Josten said the optimal way to erase uncertainty is to extend the tax cuts permanently. Nevertheless, he said that “we are very pleased that lawmakers of both parties were able to work together to provide a bipartisan path to prevent one of the largest tax increases in American history.”

Dorothy Coleman, vice president of the  National Association of Manufacturers, said her group was particularly interested in some of the lesser-known tax provisions such as allowing companies to write off 100 percent of new business equipment until 2013.

“We are pleased with what has come out of the White House negotiations,” she said.

Coleman said her group was “neutral” about the extension of unemployment benefits for 13 months that was included in the package. But National Federation of Independent Business Senior Vice President Susan Eckerly said in a statement that her group was concerned that extending jobless benefits would be a burden to small-business owners who have to pay increased unemployment taxes. Eckerly said her group supported the tax provisions in the plan.

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