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Biden to Woo House Democratic Caucus

Vice President Joseph Biden will attend a House Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday to try to build support for President Barack Obama’s tax cut deal with Republicans, Democrats said.

He’ll have a lot of fence-mending to do.

The $900 billion, two-year package was sharply criticized by House Democratic leaders and rank-and-file members Tuesday, although it’s not clear how they could change it. The inclusion of a tax cut for multimillion-dollar estates was particularly galling for most Democrats.

Rep. Ron Kind called the deal “bad economic policy and bad politics.”

“This was an issue where the American people were with us,” the Wisconsin Democrat said. Obama should have held his ground on limiting an extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts to the first $250,000 in annual income instead of cutting a deal with Republicans, who insisted on an across-the-board extension, Kind added.

“He should have had a press conference saying this administration does not negotiate with hostage takers,” the lawmaker said.

Kind also called the estate tax portion of the plan “unconscionable” when every dollar will be borrowed from China. The deal would set a lower maximum tax rate and a higher exemption than had been scheduled for 2011.

Rep. Peter DeFazio ripped the deal as a budget-buster that ignores transportation projects that could have put millions of people to work. “It’s time to stop being the spear carrier for the White House,” the Oregon Democrat said he told the Caucus. “It’s time to tell them they are wrong.”

“I don’t think the president should count on Democratic votes to get this deal passed,” Rep. Anthony Weiner added. The New York Democrat called out Obama as being too eager to compromise. “He seems to go from zero to compromise in 3.5 seconds.”

Several other House Democrats who have long backed an across-the-board tax cut extension supported the deal, however.

“I think actually it shows some real negotiating skill on the part of the president,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (Va.) said.

“It’s what I’ve talked about we should do all along,” said Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah), a senior member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition.

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