Nightly News | September 26, 2010
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Now to politics and a new front in the pitched battle for control of Congress . It's about tax cuts passed as temporary during the Bush years, but now there's a push to make some of them or all of them permanent. We get more tonight from NBC 's Mike Viqueira .
MIKE VIQUEIRA reporting: Campaigning in normally Democratic New England today, a familiar face.
President BILL CLINTON: I know why people are hurting and mad and frustrated.
VIQUEIRA: As president, Bill Clinton saw his party lose control of Congress , a fate that President Obama and Democrats want to avoid.
DAVID GREGORY reporting: How bad will November be at this point in time, in your judgment?
Representative CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (Democrat, Maryland): Democrats are going to do very well. We're going to keep the majority.
VIQUEIRA: But this year, doing well simply means holding on. And now the campaign trail leads to the floor of Congress . A major battle has erupted over extending Bush -era tax cuts set to expire this year. Today the Democratic leader in the House all but ruled out a vote before the election.
Representative STENY HOYER (Majority Leader): I doubt that we will.
VIQUEIRA: Republicans want to extend the cuts to everyone, including the wealthy.
Mr. DAVID AXELROD (Senior White House Advisor): And that's something we can't do.
VIQUEIRA: But the White House would allow rates to rise for those making more than $250,000. With no compromise in sight, a vote will now have to wait for a lame duck session. Today that likelihood brought Republican ridicule.
Representative JOHN BOEHNER (Minority Leader): They've got time to bring a comedian to Washington , DC , but they don't have time to eliminate the uncertainty by extending all of the current tax rates ?
VIQUEIRA: The comedian is Stephen Colbert , the satirical cable news host who testified this week before Congress on immigration.
Mr. STEPHEN COLBERT: But this is America .
VIQUEIRA: Friday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the Democrats who invited him.
Speaker NANCY PELOSI: Has a point of view. He can bring attention to important issue like immigration.
VIQUEIRA: But many said Colbert mocked Congress , and today Pelosi 's top lieutenant broke with the speaker.
Rep. HOYER: I think his testimony was not appropriate. I know -- I think it was an embarrassment for Mr. Colbert more than the House .
Mr. PAUL HODES: This is what I see every day in Congress .
VIQUEIRA: Meanwhile, with Democrats in trouble many are running away from their leaders in Washington .
Mr. HODES: You deserve a senator who's a real fiscal conservative.
VIQUEIRA: It's an emphasis, experts say, that's the Democrats best hope to hold on.
Mr. JAMES THURBER (American University): The American public is angry that the economy hasn't turned around. They're worried, they're frustrated, and they're taking it out on incumbents, primarily Democrats .
VIQUEIRA: And, Lester , the focus for President Obama is the economy this week. He travels to four states in three days to promote his administration's efforts to ease the recession and promote recovery. Along the way he's also going to be raising campaign cash for Democrats . Lester :
HOLT: Mike Viqueira at the White House for us tonight. Mike ,