Congress -- Not Obama -- Will Craft His Agenda

Nancy Pelosi is advising Barack Obama that he ought to immediately make good on his campaign promise to raise taxes on the wealthy:

Pelosi told reporters today that she “couldn’t be more clear” in opposing some Obama advisers’ wish to wait for the tax cuts on the highest income earners to expire in two years, as they are set to do under current law. “Put me down as clearly as you possibly can as one who wants to have those tax cuts for the wealthiest in America repealed,” she said.

Pelosi said the income tax cuts to the highest earning Americans — which were decreased from 39.6 to 35 percent as part of the 2001 Bush tax plan — have been “the biggest contributor to the budget deficit,” which now stands at $1.2 trillion for fiscal year 2009. That deficit figure does not include the impact of the pending stimulus measure, which will cost around $800 billion, nor does it include estimates for supplemental spending bills that will come later this year to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…

Pelosi said the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy “have not grown the economy, have not contributed to the our economic security.”

“I couldn’t be more clear: Put me down as one in favor for repeal as soon as possible,” she said.

This raises an important point: Barack Obama cannot control what Congress sends him. While Congressional leaders might want to cooperate with him and make him look good, they don’t regard themselves as bound by his promises. Nor do committee chairmen like Charlie Rangel and Max Baucus.

So while Barack Obama may oppose these tax increases, it doesn’t mean they won’t happen. We will see whether Congressional Democrats are willing to defy him and perhaps, whether he is willing to threaten a veto if they reject his requests.

Update: Pethokoukis has related thoughts.

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