Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 13, 2010

TAX DEAL SET TO MOVE ON CAPITOL HILL.... The Senate is poised to advance the tax deal negotiated by the White House and congressional Republicans, and proponents are optimistic about passage.

Despite the lingering reservations of many Democrats, the latest tallies by party leaders suggest that the Obama-GOP package will clear the Senate with relative ease, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.

"We're counting votes in the Senate," he said. "Harry Reid and I have been on the phone over the weekend and I can say that we have a good cross-section of the Senate Democratic caucus, from left to right, who are prepared to accept this," he added, referring to the majority leader.

The plan, at this point, is for the Senate to wrap up its work on the package tomorrow.

Of course, in nearly every instance, getting bills through the Senate is infinitely more difficult than the process in the House -- but in this case, it's reversed. The Senate has long been considered the easier sell on the agreement, while House passage has remained in doubt.

Yesterday, a leading House Democrat offered mixed signals.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who will join the [House Budget Committee] next year as ranking member, and other House Democrats oppose an estate tax provision in the proposal, saying Obama was "out-negotiated" on the matter. In response to whether the House will vote on the proposal, Van Hollen insisted on "Fox News Sunday" that the House will "work its will" on the legislation but that "we're not talking about blocking the whole thing."

Van Hollen added "most" House Dems "agree with almost all of what the president negotiated," but the caucus considers the estate-tax provisions "the choking point."

It's unclear exactly what the caucus intends to do if those provisions remain intact.

That said, Van Hollen, the outgoing chair of the DCCC, went on to suggest the issue will be resolved fairly soon: "I am confident that when we get to January, there will be no tax increases on middle-income Americans. We're not going to hold this thing up at the end of the day, but we do think that simple question should be put to the test."

I don't want to read too much into that, but if House Democrats intended to scuttle the agreement, call the GOP's bluff, allow rates to go up, and then take their case to the public, Van Hollen's message yesterday probably would have been quite different.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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So, if this clears the Senate tomorrow (unlikely, but bear with me), does this mean the Senate can take up the other stuff the GOP senators said they wouldn't touch until they've finished this?

Or will they make up another reason not to do the stuff like Dream Act and DADT repeal that, left undone, makes the GOP heroes to their base, and the Democrats losers to their base -- and gives the GOP a double win?

Posted by: K in VA on December 13, 2010 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Senators, you had 2 years to get something done. 2 YEARS!!!
The House tried to nudge you along. But no, you wanted hold off doing anything at all until AFTER the midterms. And you have the temerity to bitch about Obama doing a deal behind your backs?
Look, it's not a great deal no matter how you look at it. But it does have some 'Stealth Stimulus' buck hidden int there.
Senators, if you can come up something better, Jesus H. Christ on a unicycle, please feel free. If not STFU and os omething beside bitch, which is all you're really good at anyway.

File this under ASSHOLES.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 13, 2010 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Congressional Democrats will huff and puff, but eventually they'll cave to the Republicans like they always do.

Then they'll assure us that THIS TIME they're sure that prosperity will trickle down to the middle class.

Posted by: SteveT on December 13, 2010 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

But, but, but... wasn't Chris Van Hollen on the committee to hammer out the agreement with Republicans? Why does not he and Max Baucus not get some of the gnashing of teeth and wailing that the President has received on this matter? Why has Chris Van Hollen taken the devil's advocate on this thing along, rather than standing up for what he negotiated?

Posted by: pol on December 13, 2010 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Paul Krugman has spoken out again about his reservations and lack of enthusiasm for the Obama-Republican tax plan.

Fortunately, we can disregard his concerns as he is almost always right when other economists have been wrong. It is indeed fortunate that we know that what we believe is more important than facts and that our corporate media reinforces those beliefs.

This really is a good tax plan. It preserves our millionare and billionare tax breaks. It reduces the death tax; which really should be abolished. It starts turning social security into an entitlement program which we can kill. For balance and to show that we take the deficit seriously, it does increase overall federal taxes on the lowest 30% of income earners. It really is a great thing that our corporately owned media will never tell the public about that.

What a great country!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on December 13, 2010 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

I have called both my senators again to express that I believe they should vote against this "tax deal."

It is an abomination.

Posted by: karen marie on December 13, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

What about the House GOPers?

Posted by: jhm on December 13, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

This is supposed to be a deal with the republicans. So let the republicans pass it. If you had unanimous GOP support for this dog's breakfast, you would only need a few dozen democrats' votes. But no, this is going to be another one of those "bipartisan" things where the whole damn GOP caucus (save a few required to actually gets the thing passed) votes against it. And then pends the next two years going on Fox news screaming about the horrible bill the Democrats passed.

Posted by: paul on December 13, 2010 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

I said before the midterms that the reason the Dems wouldn't vote on taxes then was because they knew they were going to sell out. But, could someone please explain why the food safety bill was considered unconstitutional since it was a revenue bill that originated in the Senate instead of the House as mandated by the Constitution, but this mess goes through the Senate before going to the House?

Posted by: MW on December 13, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

could someone please explain why the food safety bill was considered unconstitutional since it was a revenue bill that originated in the Senate instead of the House as mandated by the Constitution, but this mess goes through the Senate before going to the House?
Posted by: MW on December 13, 2010 at 9:23 AM

Apparently, if a Senate Bill is referenced to the number of an existing House bill it becomes OK. With the food safety bill, I gather, someone didn't notice that it technically qualified as a tax bill- a perhaps forgivable oversight.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on December 13, 2010 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

So you're telling me........ that that chickenshit bunch calling itself democrats...... will pass this diarrhea diaper mess......with just a wimper and a couple of pot shots at the President? The same bunch that spent most of 2010 scrambling in retreat against the terror of TEA party's and deficits.... so very eager to show everyone they really do care about fiscal responsibility....is now convinced Republicans are going to give them a pass since this bill is bi-partisan?

Do they think that Republicans won't be hypocrits this time. That they won't tie this around the democrats necks for the next 2 years bitching about out of control spending?????? That the media is going to bother to point out that the Republicans signed on to this plan???? That the media will give the Republicans a pass when they insist their demands only added a fraction compared to the Democrats tax giveaways.


And the alacrity with which this is moving gives only one of two options here.

1. The democrats are, as a whole, just as bought and paid for corporate shills as Republicans.

2. The democrats are the biggest, sorriest, incompetent excuse of a pansy party this world has ever seen.

Posted by: Oh my on December 13, 2010 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Dick Durbin is a traitor to his constituents, as are all members on Congress who vote for this Trojan Horse to dismantle Social Security.

Obama isn't a secret Muslim, he is a secret Republican.

I will NOT vote for Slick Dick Durbin (his wife is a lobbyist) or Obama again, ever.

Posted by: Greydog on December 13, 2010 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Kill the bill!

(P.S. And I WILL vote again for Durbin AND Obama.)

Posted by: leo on December 13, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Of course the House Democrats are going to cave. They always do.

This is blackmail. Get a one-year extension of unemployment benefits, but you have to give on a bunch of tax breaks for rich people and big business. And like Krugman says, in 2012, we're going to be worrrying about a worsening employment situation again, just in time for the presidential election.

Krugman's record on prognostication is good. He forecast just the situation we are in now back in February 2009. Obama and other Dems should listen to him. If they stay on this track, they are going to lose.

What happens then. By 2014, the economy probably will pick up some, benefiting the Republicans in that election. By 2016, it probably will be doing well enough to ensure reelection for President Palin, or Romney, or whoever it ends up being. Especially if they go to war in Iran or Korea, giving a Keynesian boost to the economy. Of course it would be disastrous for the long term, but would give them short-term benefit. The next chance for progressives would be in 2018 and 2020.

Maybe, they would use the interregnum to organize and get some effective leadership, so this Obama disaster is never repeated.

Posted by: Steve on December 13, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

I have felt all along that there's more to this "deal" than is being made public. I fully expect a vote (and passage) on the START treaty, DADT repeal and maybe even the DREAM act.

Maybe I'm just dreaming. But there are clues in the few Rethugs who are publicly saying what they will support now.

I think it's one of those "we can't say it out loud because it will kill it" kind of deals. I hope I'm right, anyway.

Posted by: Molly Weasley on December 13, 2010 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Funny how we can get stuff done around here so quick when the President decides to invest time and energy into the process. "Soooo hard to get Republicans and conservative Dems to do stuff; but, watch me break the necks of my progressive friends like so many twigs! Can I sit at your table now, Jimmy?"

Posted by: Charles G on December 13, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

I am not being fascetious here, can someone tell me why Dems go on Fox News? I don't get it. It's not like they will be treated with any modicum of respect, or will speak the truth in any fashion.

Why do they do that?

Someone help me out here. I do not get it.

Posted by: MsJoanne on December 13, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK



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