The deal to extend all the Bush tax cuts for two years is the first sign of the new normal in Washington in the wake of last month's midterm elections, declares The New York Times. President Obama faces Congressional Republicans who are "newly empowered," the Times' David M. Herzenhorn and Jackie Calmes report, as well as an increasingly frustrated Democratic Party as the White House "navigates between a desire to get things done and a retreat from his own positions and the principles of many liberals." In fact, even as the GOP cheered the deal, some Democrats on Capitol Hill emphasized that they hadn't yet agreed to anything.
Of the many compromises in the deal, some Democrats are most infuriated by Obama's concessions on the estate tax, giving a $5 million exemption per person and capping the tax rate at 35 percent. (The old rate allowed a $1 million per person exemption and a 55 percent maximum tax.) On the other hand, unemployment benefits will stay. Obama said he wasn't excited about the tax cut extension, either, but stressed it was better to compromise than to allow the middle class tax cuts to expire, too. Meanwhile, top Republicans were "clearly relishing the upper hand they have held in the tax fight" and praised the deal.