Tax Deal Opponents Shut Down White House Phones

Posted December 7, 2010 at 11:23am

Liberal activists angry about President Barack Obama’s concession on tax cuts for upper-income Americans crashed two phone lines at the White House and are gearing up for another onslaught of calls to Senate Democratic leaders in an eleventh-hour push to kill the deal.

Supporters of the New York-based Agenda Project shut down two phone lines for most the day Monday in White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett’s office, according to the group’s founder, Erica Payne. And even though Obama ultimately announced a bipartisan deal that extends tax cuts for the wealthy, Payne said her group, which boasts 10,000 supporters, has plans to push back every step of the way.

“We believe some fights are worth taking to the bitter end. Fighting the right battles makes you stronger, helps you identify the people who will fight with you — and identify the people who were never with you in the first place,” she said.

A White House aide couldn’t confirm details about phone lines being flooded, but noted, “They did lob a number of calls in.”

The activists are now setting their sights on whom they see as the last possible naysayers on the deal: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.). They have “the ability to not take the deal,” Payne said.

Liberal groups are also going after vulnerable Republicans. is holding events Tuesday in three states outside the offices of Republican Senators who on Saturday voted against a bill to extend tax cuts for people making less than $250,000: Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas).