In recent days there have been indications that the Senate is getting ready to hold their own vote on extending the middle class tax cuts, and it's likely Republicans will successfully filibuster. If that happens, the senior lawmaker involved in the discussions tells me, "that will probably be the end of the discussion."
"The question is whether you have a symbolic vote in the House or let members take it district by district. I'm not sure we could even pass it," the lawmaker says. "People are still taking the temperature of the caucus -- that seems to be where the caucus is."
Three dozen moderate Dems have signed a letter to Dem leaders demanding a vote on extending all the tax cuts. And behind the scenes, they are telling House Dem leaders in no uncertain terms that they don't want a vote focused on just the middle class ones, the sources say. The leadership aide says moderates are complaining that if they take the vote, "they'll be subject to a 30 second ad saying they raised taxes."
But the aide cautioned that Pelosi still wanted the vote. "She's listening to members, and to her caucus," the aide said. "We could still decide this is something we want to do."
As Josh Marshall points out, the Democrats are now fleeing for the hills instead of fighting. They are done.
Say nothing gets voted on pre-election and the Republicans take one of both Houses of Congress. First thing on their agenda will be extending all the 2001 tax cuts. So they pass that bill and it goes to the president's desk. Does he veto it? In the midst of what is still a severe recession, there's a pretty decent argument that you want at least a temporary extension of the tax cuts on incomes under $250k. For a lot of different reasons, having that bill land on the president's desk would put him in a really tough stop -- for political and economic reasons. But consider the other scenario. Say the sub-$250k cuts go through now. Do you really think the GOP wants to hit the ground running in January with tax cuts that only apply to the wealthiest 1% of the population? I doubt it. It exposes them too much. There are no middle income tax to give them cover. I frankly doubt they'll even try. But if they do I don't think President Obama would hesitate to veto it. It would make sense both in terms of the country's fiscal situation and his own political situation.
All of which shows is that even if Democrats don't gain politically pre-election, the whole thing is still a no-brainer in policy and political terms after the election.
But it's sounding like they won't do anything at all.
And they won't. They've capitulated at this point. I'm not even sure that the Senate will be able to get anything done in the lame duck session, or if we'll even have a lame duck session. The Democrats in Congress have simply given up.
That of course makes it impossible to convince Dem voters not to give up too.