Barney Frank: We Can’t Stop Obama’s Tax-Cut Deal

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) opposes the Obama-GOP tax cut deal but thinks it will pass anyway. | Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/4317682779/">World Economic Forum</a>

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


The House Democratic Caucus has rejected President Obama’s bargain to retain the Bush-era tax cuts, voting nearly unanimously during a caucus Thursday meeting to oppose bringing the deal to the House floor. The resolution was a symbolic move intended to demonstrate that House Democrats had the numbers to stop the deal from moving forward, demanding changes to Obama’s bargain with the Republicans. But a leading liberal Democrat, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), told Mother Jones that the president’s tax-cut deal would pass anyway, and that the bill based on Obama’s bargain would have enough votes to pass the House—despite vehement Democratic opposition.

“I still think it’s going to go through—why do you think it isn’t?” Frank said in a Thursday interview outside the caucus meeting. “I always knew a majority of Democrats would be against it. I still think they have the votes for it, yeah.” He added that House Democrats simply lacked the ability to have a major impact on the legislation: “I think the notion that the caucus controls legislation is not a good one.”

Frank emphasized that he still opposed the tax-cut bargain but nevertheless thought a vote should be held on the tax package as it currently stands. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have to decide herself whether to bring any bill to a vote on the House floor, saying Thursday that she stood by the caucus’ resolution and would not proceed unless the framework was changed. House Democrats at the caucus meeting said they would specifically demand changes to the watered-down estate tax in the bargain—a cornerstone of Republican support for the bill. 

If Pelosi made such revisions, however, it could derail the entire bargain and prolong the battle indefinitely, potentially running up against the Dec. 31 deadline when the current tax-cuts expire. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, asserted Thursday that Democrats were willing to run that risk.* But Frank remains convinced that the Democratic caucus will be unable to hold up the negotiations, predicting that Pelosi will ultimately be forced to bring the president’s tax deal forward: “I think she will have to, yeah.”

Much has been made of the rift between the president and liberal Democrats over the tax deal. While he agreed that the discord was a “disagreement over a very important issue,” the Massachusetts Democrat brushed aside concerns about a looming civil war on the left. “I think this is a pretty unique set of circumstances,” Frank said, noting the pending expiration of the tax cuts on Dec. 31. “We will be together most of the time, and there will be occasional times when we’re different.”

*Update: Story has been updated to reflect Pelosi’s latest remarks.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate