Hickenlooper supports Obama-GOP tax deal

Colorado Governor-elect John Hickenlooper announced Friday that he supports the controversial deal President Obama struck with Republican leaders this week where Democrats would support extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in a time of recession and ballooning deficits in exchange for Republican support for an extension of unemployment insurance and middle class tax cuts. The Colorado delegation in DC has been torn on the deal.

“I understand why the President’s compromise on extending the Bush tax cuts is controversial and imperfect, particularly with regard to deficit reduction,” said Hickenlooper in a release. “But a prolonged political fight over the tax cuts and extending unemployment benefits would not be good for the country or the economy.

“As I approach the job of balancing Colorado’s budget and getting our state’s economy on track, what happens in Washington can make a big difference. I am hopeful that President Obama’s effort at compromise in Washington will be successful.”

The state’s Democratic Senators are divided on the issue.

Senator Mark Udall railed against the deal as it was announced last week, calling it the “worst possible case of collective short-term memory loss.”

“Just last week, a bipartisan group appointed by the President called our national debt a ‘cancer’ that is threatening our country from within. As I’ve said for many years, our looming debt is perhaps the greatest challenge to our economy and our national security. Now, exactly four days later, we are being asked by the President to add $900 billion to that debt over the next two years… The cost of extending tax breaks for millionaires alone is $700 billion over the next decade. As I’ve said many times – I believe there are better ways to strengthen the economy than tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.

Senator Michael Bennet supports the deal as a necessary compromise to deliver relief to the recession-wracked and long-neglected middle class.

“The bottom line is simple and straightforward. These tax cuts will expire in less than four weeks. If we do nothing, hundreds of thousands of Coloradans will see a tax increase and thousands more will lose their unemployment benefits. That is unacceptable.”

President Obama explained the deal as a way to deliver on promises he has made for the last two years to the middle class by doing what he thinks is best for the economy and job creation. He said Democrats could regroup to battle the high-end tax cuts another day.

“On the Republican side, this is their holy grail, these tax cuts for the wealthy. This seems to be their central economic doctrine. And so unless we had sixty votes in the Senate at any given time, it would have been very hard for us to move this forward,” he said.

“I have said I would have liked to see a vote before the election. I thought this was a strong position for us to take into the election, to crystallize the positions of the two parties because I think the Democrats have better ideas. I think our proposal to make sure the middle class is held harmless but that we don’t make these Bush tax cuts permanent for wealthy individuals because it was going to cost the country at a time when we got these looming deficits and the American people were persuaded by that.

“But the fact of the matter is I haven’t persuaded the leaders of the Republican party. I haven’t persuaded Mitch McConnell and I haven’t persuaded John Boehner. And if I can’t persuade them, then I’ve got to look at what is the best thing to do given that reality for the American people and for jobs.”