Just hours after the Senate approved the package at around 2 a.m. Tuesday, the White House began its effort to sell the legislation to the public and the House. Obama called upon representatives to pass the measure quickly, and Vice President Joe Biden was dispatched to Capitol Hill to brief House Democrats on the legislation.
Obama said in a statement that the measure would raise an additional $620 billion over 10 years, when compared to the period when the Bush-era tax cuts were still in place. But that is not how the Congressional Budget Office, which sets the official price tag, analyzed the measure. It starts from after midnight Monday, when those Bush tax cuts expired. Measured that way, and including a $1.8 trillion permanent fix on the alternative minimum tax, the total cost of the Senate bill is $3.9 trillion over the next 10 years.
Appearing at the White House after the vote, Obama said he would continue to work for a “balanced’’ approach to tax and spending deals in his second term.
“Hopefully in the new year, we can put a package like this together with a little less brinksmanship, a little less drama, not scare the heck out of folks quite as much,’’ Obama said.
Democrats who met with Biden in a midday meeting emerged saying they had qualms about aspects of the bill but were generally supportive. A key area of concern was that the Senate measure did nothing to solve a looming showdown over the national debt limit, which needs to be raised in February to avoid a national credit default.
Biden assured Democrats in the closed-door meeting that the White House will stand firm on the debt ceiling debate and not cave in to Republican demands for budget cuts.
“They promised that would be the case, and the president and the vice president are sincere in that,’’ said Representative Edward Markey, the Malden Democrat.
The issue is complicated, however, because the Senate bill delays the “sequester’’ budget cuts of $110 billion for two months — virtually ensuring that those cuts will be a key poker chip for the GOP.