After confidently predicting in September a repeal of the Bush tax cuts would pass for those making over $250,000, then suggesting a “decoupling” strategy in October that would extend the cuts for the wealthy for one year, the White House appeared ready late Wednesday to accept an across-the-board, temporary continuation of Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, David Axelrod, the president’s senior advisor, said it appears to be the only way middle-class taxpayers can keep their tax cuts, given the legislative and political realities facing Obama in the aftermath of last week's electoral defeat.
"We have to deal with the world as we find it," Axelrod told the website during a 90-minute interview in his office, steps away from the Oval Office. "The world of what it takes to get this done."
"There are concerns," he added, that Congress will continue to kick the can down the road in the future by passing temporary extensions for the wealthy time and time again. "But I don't want to trade away security for the middle class in order to make that point."
According to the report, it has been widely assumed that the president would have to accept an across-the-board deal of some kind, but Axelrod's remarks were the first public confirmation of that fact−and by a figure regarded as closer to Obama than any other White House staffer.
Also dealing "with the world as we find it," Axelrod declined repeatedly to comment on any of the controversial debt-reduction measures suggested by the chairs of the president's own commission− even those, such as raising the Social Security retirement age, that go against Obama's campaign pledges and strike at the heart of Democratic constituencies.