Massachusetts Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown found common ground Monday, as each declared he was supporting an Obama administration income tax compromise that included elements each had pointedly opposed.
Kerry declared he was supporting the deal despite its extension of Bush administration tax cuts. He voted against the cuts in 2001, 2003 and 2005, and railed against them when squared off against their patron — Republican George W. Bush — during the 2004 presidential campaign.
"This isn't the choice we should have to make, but it is the choice we do have to make, and governing is always about choices," Kerry said, echoing his campaign trail rhetoric. He lauded the element of the deal extending emergency unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks, until the end of 2011.
Brown similarly offered his endorsement to the compromise even though it will expand the deficit by more than $800 million during the next two years. He joined the Senate last winter after winning a special election rooted in his pledge to cut spending and reduce the deficit.
In a video news release on Dec. 1, Brown also touted his own plan to finance extended unemployment benefits with unspent federal funds identified by the Office of Management and Budget. He said he was otherwise opposed to extended benefits because they would add to the deficit.
"If we don't do anything, we're going to have the biggest tax increase for quite a few generations now," Brown told reporters Monday before he rang a Salvation Army bell in downtown Boston.
The Republican commended Obama on the compromise and said he's supporting the deal because it helps bring "certainty and stability" to the economy.
The Bush tax cuts are slated to expire Dec. 31, as are existing emergency unemployment benefits. House members moved last week to block the compromise, but the Senate was slated to hold a pivotal test vote on Monday.
Obama has been pressuring his fellow Democrats to support the compromise, and last Friday he tapped former President Bill Clinton to lobby for the bill during an unusual joint White House news conference.
This program aired on December 13, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.