Friday, September 24, 2010

Worm-turn watch...

or wishful thinking?  Ever since I read last night that Senate democrats have given up on holding a pre-election vote on extending the Bush tax cuts for all but the top 2% of earners, I've been waiting for the worm to turn. I can't believe that this is end of story until the election -- that Democrats would give up the political high ground of forcing the Republicans to hold a tax cut for 98% of Americans hostage to extending the cut to the top 2%.

My wish may be father to that thought. But I think it may be born of witnessing all the breathless fretting day-by-day as the health care reform endgame unfolded. Aggh! The House Democrats will merely "deem" the Senate bill passed while voting on the reconciliation fix alone. Nah! They won't.

On the other hand: the macro political logic of passing HCR that Chait laid out so presciently in the wake of Scott Brown's win has apparently done the Democrats no short-term good. The blue dogs and Dems in conservative districts who manned up to that vote are doubtless arguing now that supporting a "tax hike" (expiration of part of Bush cuts due to sunset) now is a bridge too far.  That seems craven to me, but I am tired of seeing Democrats lambasted for standing up to bad-faith Republican obstruction, when they have done so repeatedly and are apparently paying a steep price. In any case, perhaps the leadership just can't make its embattled right flank walk one more perceived plank.

Still, notwithstanding my own skepticism about my own 'thinking,' if you can call it that, this hunch has proved persistent enough that I'll risk making an ass of myself.  The Democrats will try again on the tax cuts before the election -- or try something different.

UPDATE: Jonathan Zasloff's well-informed analysis of the Dem leaders' actual options, as shaped by parliamentary rules, indicates that there will be no vote unless the political dynamic somehow changes prior to the election.  

1 comment:

  1. I think the Senate Dems might try again but may want to run on this issue - with the "hostage" situation pending, rather than resolve it before the election. I haven't seen polling that gives guidance on this but if the Dems are getting traction with this issue they may not want to lock in the benefit of legislation cutting taxes for the 98%, but rather gamble on taking this issue, intact, to the voters. Obama didn't take a major hit on this in '08.