In an interview with his home state's public radio Thursday, Minnesota's Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison suggested that Democratic lawmakers "need to create a real crisis" to force Republicans to renegotiate President Obama's tax cut compromise.
As we've reported, Obama's compromise would extend Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans while renewing public assistance to keep 2 million Americans from dropping off unemployment rolls in the coming weeks. On Thursday, a majority of House Democrats voted to reject the deal, including Ellison, the recently elected co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus.
Following the vote, Ellison told Minnesota public radio that he thinks Democrats "need to create a real crisis here so that the Republicans will have to answer for denying Americans unemployment benefits on the eve of the Christmas holiday. We let them off the hook in my opinion."
Though Ellison praised President Obama for his deal-making, he went on to say that Republicans "exploited the president's compassion for people" and Democrats "should have bargained harder because... we're going to fundamentally shift the income spread in this country."
With regards to the estate tax, Ellison says Democrats are "giving away" trillions of dollars by not taxing estates at a higher rate. "So what I've argued is that we need to say first of all this estate tax deal is just intolerable and we can't abide by it. It can't be part of the deal," he said. "I understand that there will need to be a deal, but this estate tax doesn't need to be part of it, and we need to renegotiate that part of it."
In the end it seems Ellison is unwilling to confront mounting debt by cutting programs and insists higher taxes are the answer: "We're going to see cuts in education. We're going to see cuts in job creation. We're going to see cuts across the board. And so what I'm saying is that let's not put ourselves in a position where we're going to be faced with dramatic and fundamental cuts into the future."
Ellison calls tax cuts for the nation's top income earners "disturbing" and claims these "giveaways" will only contribute to "funding our own demise."
Listen to the full interview here: