Obama Feeling Heat From Left on Tax Cut Deal

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 7, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: President Obama was on the offense this afternoon trying to defend his tax cut compromise and minimize the anger brewing especially from members of his own party who feel abandoned by the White House.

Now it also seems that the bipartisan efforts between the president and the GOP have come and gone. Feeling the heat from the left, the president used an obscene analogy to describe Republicans.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I've said before that I felt that the middle class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high end tax cuts. I think it's tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers, unless the hostage gets harmed.

Then people will question the wisdom of that strategy. In this case the hostage was the American people. And I was not willing to see them get harmed.


HANNITY: Wait a minute, hostage takers? Good thing Republicans are not as thin-skinned as President Obama's proven to be. But despite the president's efforts this afternoon, Democratic leaders, they are still furious. The president's always compliant House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, well, she is particularly annoyed.

And she said earlier, quote, "We have some unease. We didn't know a deal was going to be announced." Senator Harry Reid even went so far as to say his member wouldn't sign the compromise as is.


SENATOR HARRY REID, D-NEV., SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: This is only a framework. It is up to the Congress to pass it. Some in my caucus still have concerns about this proposal, as I suspect some Republicans have concerns about it.

We'll work with the president and congressional Republicans over the next many hours to address these concerns.


HANNITY: You know things are bad for the anointed one when Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid make such public comments. But what about the Republicans? Senator Mitch McConnell couldn't say for sure that he has the votes.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY., SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I think the vast majority of the members of the Republican caucus of the U.S. Senate feel that this is a step in the right direction, an important step to take for the American people. And I think the vast majority of my members will be supporting it.


HANNITY: And joining me now with reaction are Pennsylvania Congressman Jason Altmire and Florida Congressman Connie Mack.

Gentleman, welcome back to "Hannity."


CONGRESSMAN JASON ALTMIRE , D-PA.: Thank you for having us.

HANNITY: All right, Jason, let me start with you. You're a Democrat. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Van Hollen, Steny Hoyer, they don't seem in favor of this deal. Why?

ALTMIRE: I can't speak for any other member. I want to get the tax cuts extended. I understand from the left there's some disagreement with that. This is a way to do that. There's a lot of things in this package to look at. Not -- nobody is going to agree with everything that's in the package. But in the end I think we have to get this done.

HANNITY: Whatever happened to the spirit of bipartisanship? Republicans are hostage takers?

ALTMIRE: Well, again, I didn't say that. Others who have used that analogy can speak for themselves.

HANNITY: The leader of your party said that.

ALTMIRE: Well, that's not the terms that I would use. I certainly have not engaged in that kind of debate.

HANNITY: Do you condemn it?

ALTMIRE: I want to get this done. I don't -- I wouldn't --


HANNITY: I didn't ask you if you want to get it done. I'm asking if you condemn it?

ALTMIRE: I wouldn't have used the analogy.

HANNITY: All right. Connie Mack, your reaction?

MACK: Well, on that point, you know, when I first heard the president talk, referencing Republicans as we're taking the American people hostage, I was offended. The reality here is, we're still nibbling around the edges. If we want to see economic growth then we've got to support our small business owners.

And to support the small business owners, we need to these tax cuts in permanent so they can plan for the future. But right now we still are in this kind of denial phase where somehow if we extend them just for two years, it will make it feel better today, but that small businesses aren't making determinations just two years from now. They're making determinations five years from now, 10 years from now.

They need to have some security in what the tax code is going to be. And we ought to extend the tax cuts permanently.

HANNITY: Do you agree with that, Jason?

ALTMIRE: I think Connie is right. He outlined the situation exactly. The recovery has been stalled in large part because of the uncertainty that the job creators have had on what the regulatory structure is going to look like and certainly what the tax code is going to look like.

And I think this bill, as I review it, looks like it will provide some certainty, but certainly people who make long term decisions on whether or not to make investment and take risk. They need to know that there's going to be on the long term side that same certainty. And I don't know that we achieved that with this.

HANNITY: I applaud you. You're taking a position very different than many members of your party.

Connie Mack, there are a lot of conservatives, and I've heard from a lot of them today, for example, the Club for Growth has come out against the plan. They think the Republicans have given too much. What is your reaction to that?

MACK: Well, you know, I think the Club for Growth has done a good job of outlining the problem. There's a rush right now of feeling like this is the only thing we're going to get, and therefore we have to take it.

I'm not sure that's the best way to do policy. Now the reality is, is that with the president continuing to posture not to extend the tax cuts without all of these other things connected to it, we might find ourselves in the reality of that.

But for me, I think we need to continue to fight for the tax cuts to make them permanent. Because if we really -- what I don't get, Sean, is one side of the mouth says that we want to create jobs. The other side of the mouth says, we're going to do everything we can to destroy that hope and dream for the job creators in this country by giving so much insecurity.

HANNITY: Let me play for both of you, the class warfare rhetoric has gotten way out of control. I want to play a little montage here and get your reaction.


SENATOR ROBERT MENENDEZ, D-N.J.: Our Republican colleagues are playing Santa Claus for millionaires, but Scrooge for the middle class.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: Republicans are willing to hold hostage the middle class tax cuts so they can get a tax cut for the very, very wealthy.

CONGRESSMAN STENY HOYER , D-MD.: This tax relief for people who are fundamentally rich.

SENATOR JACK REED, D-R.I.: The obvious choice today was to support middle Americans, middle-income Americans.

SENATOR SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, D-R.I.: We are now at a discrepancy between regular people and our super wealthy that hasn't been matched -- an income disparity that has been matched since the 1920s.

CONGRESSMAN AL FRANKEN, D-MINN.: What are we doing? Where are our values?


HANNITY: You know, Jason, I know this isn't your position. But this is the party you caucus with. And when you hear that class warfare, what are you thinking?

ALTMIRE: I do hear that type of rhetoric, Sean. And as you know after the health care vote I was the target of some -- of that language from the left. It happens. There's a big Democratic caucus. There's a lot of difference of opinion. And I think on this issue the nerves are raw and people are saying things that I don't agree with.

And I told you how I'm going to vote, but I can't speak for what other members are going to do.

HANNITY: All right. And so you're going to vote for the bill.

Connie Mack, are you going to vote for this bill?

MACK: I haven't decided yet . Right now I'm leaning no. But you know, I'm going to have to take a look at this. I'm very frustrated, though, Sean, that the -- what's in front of me is a bill that seems to want to continue to play games instead of really getting down to the problem, which is how do we help small businesses create jobs?

If we continue to pass legislation that's going to determine -- you know kind of take away their incentive to create jobs, the real question is, is can they continue to keep the people they have employed?

So they might -- the Democrats might feel they've won something here, but the reality is, small businesses are still going to have to determine whether or not they can continue to employ all the people that they have right now.

HANNITY: All right, gentlemen, good to see you both. Thanks for being with us. We really appreciate it.

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