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Obama tax deal divides Florida Democrats: Nelson supports, Hastings opposes

President Barack Obama is facing fierce opposition among some Democrats for his compromise with Republicans over extending the Bush-era tax cuts, but Florida Sen. Bill Nelson says he'll vote for the "bipartisan compromise.

"Sen. Nelson shares the concern of many experts who believe tax increases right now would derail an already anemic economic recovery," his office says. "Fact is, the economy’s a long way from being healthy - something Floridians, unfortunately, know better than most - and this series of tax cuts and economic assistance are needed to help bring us back. That’s why Sen. Nelson intends to vote for the bipartisan compromise. "

That's a far cry from Broward Democrat Alcee Hastings, who signed a protest letter along with 25 or so Democrats who called extending the tax cuts "fiscally irresponsible" and "grossly unfair."

"We support extending tax cuts in full to 98 percent of American taxpayers, as the President initially proposed," the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reads. "(The president) should not back down. Nor should we."

Dear Madam Speaker,

We oppose acceding to Republican demands to extend the Bush tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires for two reasons.

First, it is fiscally irresponsible. Adding more than $900 billion to our national debt, as this proposal would do, handcuffs our ability to offer a balanced plan to achieve fiscal stability without a punishing effect on our current commitments, including Social Security and Medicare.  

Second, it is grossly unfair. This proposal will hurt, not help, the majority of Americans in the middle class and those working hard to get there. Even as Republicans seek to add  billions more to our national debt in tax cuts to the wealthy, they oppose extending unemployment benefits to workers and resist COLA increases to seniors.

Without a doubt, the very same people who support this addition to our debt will oppose raising the debt ceiling to pay for it. 

We support extending tax cuts in full to 98 percent of American taxpayers, as the President initially proposed. He should not back down. Nor should we.