“Our guys got taken to the cleaners,” Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen said of the White House’s handling of a provision on the estate tax as he presented the plan to the caucus, according to sources who were in the room. Van Hollen was the House Democrats’ negotiator in six-party talks involving two administration officials and a lawmkaer from each party in each chamber that produced the sidebar pact between the White House and the GOP.
“I disagree that we didn’t get anything,” Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) deadpanned to his colleagues. “We got screwed.”
The anger Democrats telegraphed in public comments Monday turned quickly into an escalating gripe session Tuesday night, according to those present. Those who spoke in favor of the plan were greeted with silence; those opposed received lusty ovations.