WASHINGTON — Failing to approve the tax compromise President Obama negotiated with Republican leaders would put America’s fragile economy at risk for a double-dip recession, Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council and one of the president’s top advisors, said today.
The economy, while slowly growing, has not yet reached “escape velocity” from the recent downturn, Summers said at a press conference at the White House. “Failure to pass this [compromise] bill in the next couple weeks would significantly increase the risk of a double dip,” he said.
Obama is facing heated opposition to the tax cut deal from Democrats, who oppose the extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and a proposed estate tax that is lower than many Democrats wanted. The president is touting other parts of the deal, such as an extension of tax cuts for middle class families, a 13 month extension of federal unemployment benefits, a cut in the payroll tax and other tax cuts for students and businesses. However, a number of prominent Democrats, including members of the Bay State delegation, have said they will oppose the compromise.
In response to the criticism, David Axelrod, a senior advisor to the president, said today that opponents should consider the potential results of refusing to compromise, and having a protracted fight over the tax cuts.
“What is the end game and what is the consequence of playing it? Do they have the sense of how that ends?” Axelrod said. A protracted fight, he said, could have resulted in higher taxes on the middle class. “We shouldn’t play Russian Roulette with people’s lives.”
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.