Using a wily procedural maneuver to tie Republican hands, House Democrats managed to pass, by a vote of 234-188, legislation that will allow the Bush tax cuts benefiting only the wealthiest Americans to expire.
Democrats were not united on the issue. Twenty voted with Republicans to kill the tax cut bill, as they hold out for extending additional cuts to wealthy Americans -- though 3 Republicans, including Reps. Ron Paul (TX) and Walter Jones (NC) voted for the tax cut extensions. However the outcome will (and was designed to) allow Democrats to draw distinctions between themselves and Republicans during the 2012 election cycle.
President Obama endorsed the plan many months ago, and continues to support it. But divisions within his party, the White House's soft push, and the new political reality after the November election have made it highly unlikely that this legislation will become law. It would need to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, and Democrats lack the 60 votes they'd need to do that.
So force the Republicans to actually kill tax cuts, then make your own tax cut bill and dare the GOP to kill it. Really is that simple. 168 Republicans voted against this. Will the Dems make them pay?
What do you think? Me? I'm not holding my breath.