President Obam seems to have more confidence standing up to detractors within his own party than he did to Republicans holding out for an extension of current tax rates. Despite declining Democratic support, the president defiantly said Friday he's confident his compromise will be approved as long as everyone, including Democrats, acts "responsibly."
In an interview with NPR, Obama reiterated that his compromise with Republicans was better than any alternative. Yet he also seemed to leave the door open for some changes, as he went out of his way to remind the public and lawmakers that the compromise is only a "framework." And while he said discussions on the compromise are ongoing, he's confident a final bill will mirror his agreement with Republicans.
"I am confident we will get this resolved by the end of the month," he told NPR.
"The issue here is not whether I think that the tax cuts for the wealthy are a good or smart thing to do. I've said repeatedly that I think they're not a smart thing to do," he added. "At the end of the day, people are going to conclude we don't want 2 million people suddenly without unemployment insurance and not able to pay their rent, not able to pay their mortgage."
The interview revealed the president and NPR seem set on defining the debate as one on "tax cuts," despite the fact that no one's taxes are going down as a result of the compromise -- they're just not going up. A print edition of NPR's story goes as far as characterizing the deal as raiding the national coffers.
"While acknowledging that borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars to finance the plan will worsen the federal debt," it says at the beginning of one paragraph. The statement, however, ignores the fact that the current tax rates have been in effect for 10 years and that not taking contituents' money is hardly borrowing money from the government.
The interview stretched beyond just the compromise. The president also admitted he's open to overhauling the confusing tax code in order to raise revenue. He said he's wiling to look at lowering individual tax burdens in exchange for broadening the tax base.
"Simplifying the system, hopefully lowering rates, broadening the base — that's something that I think most economists think would help us propel economic growth," Obama said. "But it's a very complicated conversation."
For now, however, his hands are too full quelling his own party's rebellion.