Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 20, 2010

HOLD THE DAMN VOTES.... In light of the talk about nationalizing the midterm elections, maybe it's time to consider doing just that -- and making tax policy the center of the debate.

Republicans continue to make their demands clear. This morning, the party continued with its campaign to demand one up-or-down vote giving the GOP everything it wants -- the lower rates for the middle class that Democrats are demanding, and the breaks for the wealthy that Republicans are fighting for. The GOP fears that Democrats will either only bring middle-class breaks to the floor, or worse, that Dems might split the effort in two, with one vote for the middle class and another for the rich.

Greg Sargent sees this as an ideal fight for the congressional majority, especially in a cycle where national issues are dominating.

[T]he best way for Dems to nationalize the elections right now is for Congress to hold a vote on whether to extend the middle class tax cuts. If Dems did this, it would reinforce the national strategy that Dems already have in place: Making the case that a vote for the GOP is a vote to return to the Bush policies that ran the economy into the ground. [...]

[H]olding a vote on whether to extend the middle class tax cuts would dramatize the contrast between the national parties even more cleanly, forcing lawmakers to go on record choosing between Obama tax policy and Bush tax policy. Put simply, there is no better way of driving home the Dems' core message than to hold this vote.

If there's a flaw in Greg's reasoning, I don't see it. With Democrats already positioning themselves as champions of the middle class, and hoping to characterize Republicans as toadies for millionaires and corporate lobbyists, I continue to see this as a no-brainer.

Christina Bellantoni, meanwhile, reports that Senate Dems seem to have a plan in mind, which includes having the debate before the election. The gist of it is, Dems would bring middle-class cuts to the floor, perhaps as early as next week. If Republicans hold it hostage, Dems rejoice at the chance to use this as a campaign cudgel. If Republicans allow it to proceed, the GOP will fight to add an amendment to extend breaks to the wealthy. It would need 19 Dems to break ranks and get to 60 votes, which seems unlikely.

There's really nothing for Dems to be afraid of here. Just hold the damn votes.

Steve Benen 1:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Comments

Amen.

What the hell is the holdup? This is the easiest call they'll have -- and the panic in the Republican clamor demanding an all-or-nothing approach proves it.

Jesus Christ, hold the goddamn vote!

Posted by: TR on September 20, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

There are no flaws in Greg's reasoning. It's a sure-fire winner, served up to them on a platter by the opposition.

Just don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

Posted by: dr. bloor on September 20, 2010 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

David Broder will speak ill of them, though.

You can see their dilemma.

Posted by: Z. Mulls on September 20, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

If there's a flaw in Greg's reasoning, I don't see it.

Well, it would require that Democrats reinforce their own narrative and not the Republicans'.

Posted by: Gregory on September 20, 2010 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

T]he best way for Dems to nationalize the elections right now is for Congress to hold a vote on whether to extend the middle class tax cuts

It's also good policy
If this doesn't pass now, it WON'T PASS AFTER the elections
Why vote on the Dream Act instead of this ?
MAKE the Repugs filibuster a middle class tax cut BEFORE THE ELECTION

Posted by: friscoSF on September 20, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Don't worry, they'll f**k this up.
I don't know who.
I don't know why.
I don't know when.
I don't know how.
But, I'm confident they'll f**k this up somehow.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on September 20, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Dems are gutless cowards who only care about the opinion of the rich.

Posted by: All been said on September 20, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Don't just make this a referendum on "top rates" as a whole. Bang away at the lower capital gains rates too. Don't you think plenty of high-earners think it unfair they're subsidizing people who speculate? (And the argument that "but it helps investing" is a fraud, since most CGs are just trading and not the startup capital. Reward the latter, not the former.) Indeed, I'd rather keep the top rate on earned income the same and just move up the cap gains, then add financial transaction tax. I wonder if Obama's Street-unwise crew could stomach that ... I hope he still can.

BTW, pardon me if I guessed wrong but considering the real (if inadequate) differences between the Parties, ABS's comment above sounds more like false-flag defeatist propaganda than from a real progressive. But if you are, indeed you were disappointed albeit not as much as the worst critics claim. Yet consider the consequences of staying home ...

Posted by: Neil B on September 20, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Good idea. The voodoo economics of republican national policies would come out and perhaps sanity would prevail.

Posted by: Dredd on September 20, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

I get the sense that the problem with going ahead is not that the leadership is worried about what Repubs will do but what so called "moderate" Dems will do. In other words, they want to put the GOP on the spot but they don't want to do that to their own members which they inevitably will.

Posted by: brent on September 20, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Someone once said; "We have nothing to fear, except fear itself."

-unless, of course, you are a Democrat- and then you fear everything. . .

Posted by: DAY on September 20, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

If I were Reid I'd go even further - dare the repubs to try to filibuster a middle class only bill and then turn it into one big circus, complete with howling press conferences, all night sessions and cots on the senate floor.

Call their bluff.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on September 20, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are planning to use some procedural tactic to prevent this from becoming two bills forcing dems to include tax cuts for the wealthy and the middle class as one bill instead of two. Here's hoping they fail but with the DLC who knows.

Newt Gingrich calls for a law to prevent Martians from applying for citizenship in the US. "Our country cannot allow Martian Laws to take a hold in our nation". How much longer must we have to hear such nonsense from an idiot who claims to be a credible voice in American Politics. Has he even read the constitution? Next he'll be calling for a law to prevent Papal law from being allowed into our government.

What an fear mongering idiot. He orders a McDonald's butger and tells them to leave off the fruit cake, eels, and slugs...as if they were ever included...this is how he uses the Sharia law nonsense

Posted by: bjobotts on September 20, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Two bills. One for the Obama middle class tax cuts and one for the top marginal rate. Force the Republicans to vote for their base clean and see what happens.

I am more interested in the AMT and the estate tax. Both need to be addressed.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 20, 2010 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

YES YES YES YES

Posted by: SF on September 20, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

HOLD THE DAMN VOTES IN THE SENATE BUT NOT IN THE HOUSE UNLESS/UNTIL OUR BILLS PASS IN THE SENATE.

The Rethugs are trying to have it both ways AGAIN!

They want to give their Representatives in swing districts an opportunity to vote for the continuation of the lower middle class tax rates, with the plan to never having a vote in the Senate. They want to have their cake and eat it.

Posted by: robert on September 20, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

robert. I think that because these are revenue votes, they have to originate in the House. Is that correct - those of you who are more knowledgable about the constitution?

Posted by: bigutah on September 20, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

bigutah is correct, my error. The House must act first.

"Section 7. Clause 1. All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills."

"Raising revenue" is read to include reducing revenue.

Posted by: robert on September 20, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Therin lies a rub, methinks. I wonder if the dyanamic has focus on the "blue dogs" or ticks, or whatever. Votes have to originate in house: IF Pelosi brings a vote on the middle class only, she is also painting the blue dogs into a corner. {Fine by me, but not so good if you are trying to hold the majority]. Seems like they would have their feet to a fire, and have to vote for the middle class.

Then vote 2 occurs; I wonder if there are enough weenie Dems that would vote, or threaten, to vote for the rich that they risk losing the vote? And thus, resulting in exactly what she doesn't want, and pissing off the senate?

Posted by: bigutah on September 20, 2010 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Well supposedly Senate Dems are finally about to introduce a bill extending just the middle class tax cuts. I'd much rather the House do this because I can already envision Evan Bayh, Ben Nelson et al joining a Republican filibuster, and Mitch McConnell going to the nearest microphone and saying "The only thing bipartisan about this bill is the opposition."

The House Leadership is acting like a bunch of cowards.

Posted by: Sam on September 20, 2010 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

I would argue that holding the votes would get rid of the uncertainty that many in the business world are worried about. Once the tax rates are set for the foresee-able future, businesses will get off their duffs and start spending again...regardless of what the rates are. So HOLD THE DAMN VOTES.

Posted by: Gridlock on September 20, 2010 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

If Reid commits to pushing for the vote in the Senate soon, Pelosi might get her whip cracking too. But she's been pretty fed up with pushing her people out on a limb and into the full glare of exposure, only to see the bill die in the Senate (or not even taken up). That leaves the Representatives, who have to go begging their constituents for votes every two years, instead of every 6, in a really bad position -- on the one hand, their votes will be used against them by the opposition, while, on the other hand, the benefits of the bill are not there.

Posted by: exlibra on September 20, 2010 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

"If there is a flaw in Greg's reasoning, I don't see it."

The flaw is that by holding a vote on middle class tax cuts and then on separately on upper-class tax cuts, the repubs. could claim they voted for tax cuts in all instances (which they would) while the dems voted against tax cuts. That the dem vote was against upper class tax cuts only would go unmentioned in the repub dialogues.

Posted by: Dylan on September 20, 2010 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

But Ezra Klein makes a key point that Democrats must first start the middle class tax cut in the Senate where Republicans are almost sure to either hold it up or put their Inner Plutocrat on display by making ugly show about including tax cuts for the top 2%.

If Democrats start the ball rolling in the House, the House Republican leadership might just let members vote for the middle class-only portion knowing that the Senate Republicans would kill it, which would ruin this as an important defining issue for the election, spelling out the clear differences between the parties and who they look out for at the end of the day.

I must say that as an old GOP party hand I find the Republican leadership's insistance on holding a middle class tax cut hostage unless the uber-rich get another tax cut along with it seems utterly suicidal to me. Either this is just brinksmanship in which Republicans ultimately intend to cave if push comes to shove, taking half a loaf, or the Republican Party's wealthy benefactors are so convinced of their own omnipotence that they have laid down the law with their Congressional maid-servants that this is a non-negotiable item. And like the good puppets they are, the Republicans are falling into line -- even if it means falling over a cliff.

Posted by: Ted Frier on September 21, 2010 at 6:53 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not quite following something here. Why can't the House simply introduce a single bill to maintain the reduced tax rates for income up to $250,000 (or better, $100,000-150,000)? All Dems, Blue Dogs, and Republicans can vote against it at their own electoral peril. If the bill fails, the Dems have a giant game-changing issue and the ads write themselves. If it passes the House, it goes to the Senate. If it is filibustered or fails in the Senate due to the Republicans and a handful of Democrats, there is a giant issue to campain on. If it passes, good, that will keep money in the hands of people who will spend it and bolster demand in the economy, plus the Dems will get credit for it.

Do not introduce any bill whatsoever for cuts to income above $250,000 before the election. In fact, never introduce such a bill. If the Republicans introduce such a bill if they win the election, not only vote against it, but filibuster it. The end.

Posted by: Norbert on September 21, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK
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