Obama: Vote for Tax Deal or Destroy My Presidency?

Congressman quotes the president warning of political apocalypse, but White House denies it made the threat

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President Obama told Democrats that if they don't vote for the tax deal, they'll "end his presidency," according to Rep. Peter DeFazio. DeFazio told CNN that the "White House is putting on tremendous pressure" to convince reluctant lawmakers to support the compromise, which extends the Bush tax cuts for two years, extends unemployment benefits for 13 months, and, most offensive to progressives, significantly lowers the estate tax. Obama reportedly used the grim prospect of a destroyed presidency to convince Congress to vote for the health care law, too.

But the White House is denying Obama ever said anything like that. In fact, it denies he ever talked to DeFazio about the tax deal, The Hill's Jordan Fabian reports. Meanwhile, DeFazio has turned the tables, saying Obama's presidency is more likely to end if he does get the deal.

Who knows what the real story is, but, either way, bloggers are loving it.

Remember, DeFazio's one of the leaders of the liberal revolt in the House against the deal. Let's say he looked at the whip count and concluded that there aren’t enough progressive no votes to stop the bill--provided that most Republicans, a few tea-party stalwarts notwithstanding, continue to support it. He may figure that instead of trying to persuade his own side to block it, he's better off at this point trying to give Republicans a reason to bug out. But what could he, as a liberal, say that would captivate the conservative imagination and kick up a sudden groundswell against the deal? Answer: This, my friends. This.
  • Too Late, Weasel Zippers writes. "Awww, how cute, [Obama] thinks his Presidency isn't over yet…"
  • Obama Thinks It's All About Him, Digby observes at Hullabaloo. "I would think they'd lose credibility if they use the appeal as an all-purpose pitch. It's one thing to argue that you need to pass the health care bill or the liberal agenda will be stalled for decades. (That was a common argument at the time.) But it's quite another to argue that your presidency is on the line every time you want a some half-baked pile of junk passed, particularly when it's a Republican tax cut and time bomb bill with a small concession to keep the unemployed out of the gutters at Christmas time."
  • Bizarre Predicament  Obama "threatened Democrats that not passing health care would be the end of the 'liberal agenda,' but instead it was the end of their own careers in Congress," Taylor Marsh observes. "As if Pres. Obama has any intention at all of forwarding anything close to a 'liberal agenda.' I've got to say this is the weirdest Democratic predicament I've seen in a very long time. Pres. Obama is actually pleading with people who lost the midterms to save his ass by passing an extension of the Bush tax cuts, something Obama himself railed against during his campaign for president. Also making the case that if he doesn't get Bush's economic plan through he's through."
  • Enough with the Posturing! Mike Shedlock says at Mish's Global Economic Analysis. "Does anyone actually believe the House will not pass this thing? Given the odds of the bill not passing are .5% or less, this needless hot-air posturing makes the president look like a complete fool."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.