MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
GUY RAZ, host:
And I'm Guy Raz.
The White House is pulling out all the stops. It's doing everything it can to sell the new tax cut deal it negotiated with Republicans to the president's own party. The deal would extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts for two years, a concession to Republicans. It would also extend jobless benefits and cut the payroll tax for workers for one year, but many congressional Democrats consider the deal a capitulation. There are now signs of trouble on the Republican side as well.
NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson joins us now for an update.
Mara, walk us through this campaign now being waged by the White House and whether or not it seems - is it, you know, is it persuading any reluctant Democrats?
MARA LIASSON: Well, it's an extraordinary spectacle. I think every 20 minutes I get an email from the White House saying the mayor of Biloxi. I'm just making this up.
(Soundbite of laughter)
LIASSON: The mayor of some small town in South Carolina endorses the tax cut agreement - framework; Governor Crist, Governor Granholm, this economist, that economist. They trotted out Larry Summers today, the president's chief economist, who talked about how if this isn't passed, we're in danger of a double-dip recession and how the deal is really a good one. It's a stimulus, and how the Democrats actually got more in dollar amounts than the Republicans did.
Vice President Biden has been on the Hill, and the White House is not ruling out sending President Obama to the Hill himself. Now, whether it's having any effect, I think, that it probably is. Senator Reid in the Senate, the majority leader, said he might hold a vote tomorrow. And although House Democrats are still pretty angry, it looks like they might get the votes they need.
RAZ: And now, on the other side, Republican leaders negotiated this deal directly with the White House. They obviously consider this a triumph. Are there signs that the conservative rank and file are less excited about the plan?
LIASSON: There are a few signs. For the mot part, Republicans are happy, and the lion's share of votes for this - are going to come from the Republicans. But the Club for Growth which is - mounted some of the primary challenges this year, they don't like it. Sarah Palin doesn't like it. That's an important part of the Republican base. Jim DeMint, who's a very important influential senator, who supported a lot of these conservative challengers, said he's going to filibuster, and here's what he told talk show host Hugh Hewitt.
(Soundbite of radio show, "The Hugh Hewitt Show")
Senator JIM DeMINT (Republican, South Carolina): Most of us who ran this last election said we were not going to vote for anything that increased the deficit. This does. It raises taxes. It raises the death tax. I don't think we needed to negotiate that aspect of this thing away. I don't think we need to, you know, extend unemployment any further without paying for it and without making some modifications such as turning it into a loan at some point.
LIASSON: And he's not the only one. Ohio's George Voinovich, who's a real deficit hawk, says he's also going to vote no. Of course, this is the great irony. We're talking a lot about deficits. It was the great rallying cry of the Tea Party, yet this increases the deficit by about $900 billion.
RAZ: And, Mara, what does this tell us about how the parties will work together moving forward?
LIASSON: Well, it certainly tells us that getting used to the new world order in Washington is difficult for the president and his party. For the - I think it shows that the two parties can work together. There is compromises to be made, but if the president is going to triangulate, if, as he said yesterday, he's going to choose be the leader of the country and not just the leader of the Democratic Party, he's going to have to explain where he's going in advance. He's going to have to keep his party in the loop, and it's difficult. The Democrats in Congress are incredibly frustrated with this. Of course, they had the chance to pass a tax bill on their terms before the election, and they didn't.
RAZ: Mara, thank you.
LIASSON: Thank you.
RAZ: That's NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson.
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